In small doses, anger is an appropriate, normal, and healthy emotion. Everyone experiences anger. It helps us stand up for ourselves when we’ve been wronged and protect our own needs. However, in many circumstances, anger can have unwanted consequences.
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adolescents have experienced an anger outburst that involved threatening violence, destroying property or engaging in violence toward others at some point in their lives. These severe outbursts of uncontrollable anger are much more common among adolescents than previously recognized, a new study led by researchers from Harvard Medical School finds.
Yelling. Fighting. Hitting. Tantrums. Biting. Sound familiar? They are typical behaviors of quick-to-anger children. However, anger isn’t always displayed as an outburst, some kids hold their intense feelings inside. Unreleased anger and pent-up frustrations can lead to anxiety and even depression. Your first step to helping your child is to recognize the signs that your child may have anger issues.
Signs A Child May Have Anger Issues
Of course, any of those issues could mean something else, so it is important to watch the behavior closely. Track the frequency that you see the behavior occurring on a calendar. You also may want to mark the time and place it occurs. Anger generally is situational: it happens more at certain times, with certain people, or regarding certain issues. If you track the behavior (just like you would for an illness) you may see a pattern that will be immensely helpful in curbing the anger.
Here are a few solutions that help your child/teen handle their feelings in healthier ways:
You need to help your child learn ways to handle their feelings in a healthier way, however, none of these solutions should be taught in the moment of anger. Help your child/teen to understand that one of the best immediate solutions is to step away from the situation and take time to let cooler heads prevail.
Teach Assertiveness Skills
Sometimes, aggressive behavior and anger issues stem from a lack of assertiveness. Teach your child/teen how to speak up for themselves in an appropriate manner. Talk about the importance of speaking up for himself/herself without violating anyone else's rights. Role play specific scenarios, such as what to do if someone cuts in front of them in line how to respond if they feel being taken advantage of by someone else.
Teach Your Teen to Recognize the Physical Warning Signs of Anger
Children/teens often fail to recognize when their anger is on the rise. They allow themselves to grow so angry that they lash out at someone. Ask them, how does your body feel when you're getting angry? Then teach them to recognize the physical warning signs of anger, like a rapid heartbeat, clenched fists, or flushed face. The next step is help them create a coping method when they start to feel angry.
There are socially appropriate ways to deal with angry feelings. Children and teens who lack coping skills are more likely to become verbally or physically aggressive.
The best way to show how to deal with angry feelings is to Role Model the behavior. You’ll teach your child/teen more about anger with your behavior than your words. If you yell, swear, and break things, don’t expect your child/teen to control their anger. Role model appropriate ways to deal with angry feelings. Show your child how to talk about angry feelings and how to express those feelings appropriately.
Although anger is a normal, healthy emotion, it's important to know how to deal with it. Knowing how to cope with anger and how to express it in a socially appropriate manner is an important skill for teens to learn. At CPC, we can help you navigate how to address the issues with your child/teen and set them up for success and help your child/teen learn how to control their anger and work through the best ways to cope when they are feeling angry. Contact us today to set up a consultation.
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