Is there anything more embarrassing than when your child throws a major temper tantrum in public? And what about the stress of dealing with an angry child, especially when you feel like a ticking time bomb yourself? Teaching children to manage their frustrations appropriately is a task wrought with difficulties, but it’s incredibly valuable. After all, angry children can grow into angry adults, and that’s a much bigger problem. As top criminal attorneys, we see this everyday.
So what’s a parent to do? We asked three blogging moms how they manage their children’s angry episodes. Here’s their advice:
1. What methods have worked for you in the past to calm your child when they are angry?
BRANDY (Mom blogger and media specialist at HappilyBlended.com): When my children get angry, I put on some music, usually R&B or dance music, and just start being silly. I take their hands and try to get them to move with me. This usually will turn an angry face into pure laughter because they can’t help but laugh at their not-so-coordinated Mama.
KATHRYN (Military wife and mother of a special needs son, writing at Singingthroughttherain.net): My son is two years old and is Autistic. He has several other disorders, including a speech delay, so he gets angry very often and frustrated when he can’t get across to us what he wants. When he’s angry I usually try to talk to him and figure out where the anger is coming from. What is causing it? What in the situation is making him angry? If I can figure it out then I deal with that. I also calm him down by putting him in time-out. When he was younger, that meant putting him in the crib for a few minutes until he calmed down and then telling him why that behavior was not acceptable. Now that he is older, he sits in his time-out chair for two minutes to cool off. After, I tell him that before he gets angry and frustrated he needs to come to mommy and ask for help.
KIMBERLY (Wife, mom, writer/photographer who shares her journey at She Scribes.com): I have found that removing my child from the situation is the first thing you should do. You need to get them away from the situation that is making them angry so that they have the opportunity to calm down. I may also let the child be alone for a few minutes to calm down before addressing the issue. Having your child take deep breaths can also help to calm them down.
It’s important not to get angry or agitated yourself. You need to be calm when talking to your child about what made them so angry. You also need to address their feelings and validate them before coming up with a way to deal with the situation. Not validating their feelings will only add “fuel to the fire.”
2. Do some methods work better depending on the situation?
BRANDY: There are certainly methods that work best if the anger is higher or lower as well as if in public. If they are so angry that nothing can distract them to move on from angry to silly, then I usually try to get them in a separate room or separate the rest of us from them so they can have time to chill out … as long as they are in a place where they can’t throw and break anything or hurt themselves.
KATHRYN: Yes, some things work better than others, depending on the situation. Anger in public is definitely an exception because I can’t always put him in a time-out. Again, I try to figure out the cause of the anger and deal with that first. Also, removing him from the situation if possible, helps too. If it’s anger directed at another person, then I deal with that situation as it arises.
KIMBERLY: Removing the child from the situation is always the first thing I do. If the issue happens in public I would take my child to a less public place (outside, the car, or a restroom) until they calm down. If the problem is directed toward another child I make sure to keep both children apart until a resolution can be made. If it was a matter of miscommunication I try and clear that up immediately.
If a child had a serious anger issue I would seek professional help. Obviously there would be a lot more going on “under the surface” then just a fall-out with a friend or being a sore loser while playing a game.
3. Are there some methods that work better for different age groups?
BRANDY: Right now my kids are almost ten, six, and four so there isn’t a huge age gap as of yet. I think all of the methods I mentioned have worked for all of my kids thus far.
KATHYRN: There may be methods that work better for different ages, but I also think it depends on the situation. If you think about it, a cool-off time even works for adults. If you are angry with your child or another person, going into another room and counting to 10 can help you cool off.
KIMBERLY: A time-out or removing the child from the situation works better for younger children. For older children, it depends on the child. With my teens, I’ll tell them to go to their room with no TV, cell phone, or other distractions and just lie on their bed, take deep breaths and calm down. When they are ready to discuss the situation, they can come out of their room and talk it over with my husband or me. I prefer that they not use their cell phones, watch TV or listen to music because I feel that could only perpetuate their angry feelings. A few minutes of silence can help them to calm down and re-evaluate the situation.
Teenagers already have enough “angst” going on. As a parent it’s important not to try and push them too much because it will only make them angrier. I find it better to let my teens come to me when they are ready to talk rather than me nagging them about it.
4. What resources do you use for tips on developing anger management skills?
BRANDY: I read sites like Parenting.com and get email digests from Café Mom, Lifetime Moms and such that cover these topics from time to time. Overall, I have found the most support and advice from simply interacting with fellow Mom (and Dad) bloggers within the MomDot.com Forum.
KATHRYN: I prefer to ask other moms or older friends who have “been there, done that.” They are the ones who usually have been the biggest help to me and can give me the best advice.
KIMBERLY: I ask friends how they deal with certain situations with their children. If no one had the answer I’m looking for, I might Google it or ask my online friends (other bloggers) how they would deal with the situation.
The heart of the issue
The bottom line for many kids: expressing anger is difficult, and often requires some separation before most children can speak appropriately about a situation. It’s important that parents don’t over-react to a child’s angry outburst; rather they should give them breathing room and a chance to talk about their frustrations. With the right boundaries, children can handle themselves well.
Special thanks to:
- Brandy Tanner – Brandy write the Happily Blended blog, which comes from her passion of promoting positive thinking. She is a New Hampshire mom of three who says that being a mom is both the most rewarding and challenging job she’s ever had.
- Kathryn Sneed – This Christian mom and Air Force wife blogs at Singing Through the Rain, which focuses on her life as a mom to a special needs child. He husband was also recently deployed. She shares her adventures through the lens of a close relationship with God.
- Kimberly of She Scribes – This New York mom loves writing and photography, watching movies, and visiting the “Big City” whenever she can. She and her husband have two children and stay active exploring all life can offer.