Thoughts from the Counselor
Jul 20, 2015
When I look at a child that has anger issues I see a child that is screaming for help. He is fighting with every fiber of his being to control the emotions inside of him. The child that is throwing chairs or kicking furniture cannot control the emotional volcano erupting from within. Often he is doing his best, but has not been given the tools to cope with the perceived injustice of his world. Many adults are shocked and angered by this behavior. In an attempt to control the outrageous behavior they yell or physically restrain the angered child. In a situation that is unsafe – restraint may be the only option. Many times restraining a child will escalate the situation creating a power struggle that may have a negative impact on the relationship.
Why do children get so angry? Many times the answer is as simple as the child not feeling heard. The child feels wronged, ignored, and misunderstood. He responds the only way that he knows how. When he lets his emotions take over and his temper flare, he gains the undivided attention of an adult. When his behavior is ignored it is reinforced because of the emotional release he gets when he explodes.
Children need to feel heard. Acceptance and love will create a trusting relationship where he can begin to explore his emotions and attempt to control his temper. He will not always be successful. Children need to know that their choices have consequences. While I understand the purpose of the behavior I in no way condone the action.
- Talk about situation. Ask probing open ended questions.
If the child continues to yell, calmly say "Stop, listen to me... I want to hear what you have to say - because what you have to say is very important to me. I need you to be respectful to me. You need to use a normal voice."
Validate feelings by utilizing active listening technique.
Repeat what child says even if it is nonsense.
If the child does not have words for emotions give them the words to use. "I know that you are frustrated." or "I see that you are angry."
The child should calm down. When you observe a change in body language (relaxed face/shoulders) you may coach the replacement behavior. Discuss opportunities for future situations.
Discuss natural or logical consequences for behavior/choice.
If the child threw his iPod - he no longer has the privilege of having an iPod.
If the child broke a plate - he will need to purchase a new one with his own money. If he doesn’t have any money he can do extra chores to earn money towards the replacement.
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