Saturday, July 13, 2013

Anger Management for Children

Generally we see Anger as a negative emotion but, in reality, Frustration and Anger are normal emotions. The only problem which makes anger a negative feeling is the wrong way to release it.

Anger is a defence feeling against deeper feelings of fear, pain, hurt, and disappointment.  It is just a normal reaction to defend ourselves when things go wrong, life feels unfair or people upset or hurt us. When children can’t recognise or tell their anger in words, they use their behaviour. But when that behaviour crosses the boundaries, it becomes devastating and turns into the aggression. They scream, hit, destroy the objects, refusing to do what they are told and say horrible things or they can hurt others.

Importance of expressing anger in a right way: It is really as dangerous a habit to express anger negatively as to supress it. Children are taught from a young age not to have tantrums, or not take anger out in public to avoid embarrassment. Basically, children feel anger but do not express it. They start to keep the feelings inside, which is quite unhealthy for their emotional health. Supressing anger causes anxiety, stress, and behavioural problems in children. And later, high blood pressure, insomnia and heart problems. So there should be a balance to express and cope with the anger.

Reasons for feeling angry: There are lots of reasons to get angry. Some of them are:
1.       Feeling rejected by parents, family or a group of peers
2.       Friendship problems
3.       Brothers and sisters being annoying
4.       Parents not allowing them to do something they want to
5.       Being treated unfairly
6.       When someone pushing their buttons
7.       Stress or anxiety
8.       Helplessness

How to help children recognise the early warning signs:  If children can acknowledge that they are getting angry or what is happening in their body, they can use their power to stop anger before it gets out of control. They can recognise the anger and release it in a safe way that is not going to hurt anyone else, physically or verbally.

First step is noticing the physical changes in their body. Are they feeling themselves red? Do their hands clench? Or do they feel their heart beating faster?

Second step is changing the attitude. If children change their attitude about what others are saying or doing to them that irritates them and just let it go over their head or they may also think that it’s not worth getting angry, then things can go better. In other words, it’s better to neglect the situation. But if they can’t neglect then they could verbalise firmly their angry feeling to the person they are with that “I am angry right now, and I really need to be myself” and walk away.

How can children manage their anger:  Once they are out of the situation, they have to relax and calm themselves.  To express their anger in a right way they can:
1.       Do some vigorous activities to channelize their energy like- kicking the ball, brisk walk, shout out loud in the garden/bedroom, dance, jump on trampoline or play tennis
2.       Count to 20 backwards
3.       Recite the word “Relax” over and over again
4.       Take deep breaths
5.       Have some water
6.       Listen to music or play musical instrument
7.       Do some of their favourite work like- drawing, watching TV or singing
8.       Find some quite space and think what happened, what the trigger was for them getting angry and what they need to do to get the life back on track
9.       Talk to someone like- parents, friends or teachers
10.   They can have an anger drawer in which they can store anger
11.   They can also write their thoughts in an anger diary about what made them angry, how they dealt with them, or what they can do next

Parents should consider few things while responding to the angry child:
1.       It is very important for the parents to stay calm and not to react
2.       Parents should show the child that they accept his or her feelings
3.       Parents must teach them the right ways to express their feeling
4.       Parents should convey their values and communicate what they expect from their child
5.       Parents should not punish their child for expressing their anger and try to find the reason behind it
6.       Try to ignore inappropriate behaviour that can be tolerated
7.       Listen and understand the child and his feelings
8.       Give the child some space & time of his/her own, to calm down
9.       Fill the tank of love and affection of their child

Finally, children should understand that when they are angry, they are the only people who are responsible for their actions and emotions.They cannot change others, but they can change themselves for the peace of their mind.