Children Expressing Anger
Anger is the most difficult emotion to handle, especially for young children. Your child is just beginning to understand and label the way she is feeling inside. According to Stanley Greenspan, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences, and Pediatrics at the George Washington University Medical School, children express anger when they are frustrated with something or get their feelings hurt by another. He also states that children cannot distinguish feelings from actions, so when they are upset, they bite, hit, kick, or scream. In order for your child to calm down, you must express empathy, warmth, and support.
Strategies To Control Anger
Anger is potentially constructive because it can give us energy to solve our problems and to satisfy our needs. There is a distinction, however, between satisfying needs and socially inappropriate expressions of anger. As a parent, you are responsible to teach your child that while it is okay to be mad, it is not okay to be mean. The following suggestions from Pat Huggins, clinical instructor in the Graduate School of Counseling at the University of Washington, will help you help your child control his anger.
Finally, observe the way you express your anger. Example is always the best teacher. If your children observe you shouting at people, slamming things, or hitting others when you are mad, they will learn to express their anger the same way. Communicating with those who have offended you and choosing a better tactic will help your child learn that being mad doesn’t have to result in hurtful behaviors. By regulating your emotions, you will help your children regulate theirs.
Greenspan, S. I. (1993). Playground Politics. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Huggins, P. (1993). Helping Kids Handle Anger. Longmont, Colorado: Sporis West, Inc.