As our children grow older there emotions seem to grow stronger too. My four year old feels so deeply that it sometimes seems manic. Lately we have been having difficulties with her anger and her explosive moods. It isn’t easy having the patients to deal with a furious child, especially when it is over something ridiculously small like the choice of foot wear for the day, however it is important to stay calmish. I know I have found myself walking away from my daughter several times so I can compose myself before dealing with her rage.
Often times we deal with each problem on a day to day basis, however it is important to teach our children how to deal with their emotions, especially before they begin school and have an explosion in their classroom. As a peace education teacher I focused on anger management with children of all elementary school ages. These lessons are the foundational stepping stones to dealing with anger for the rest of our children’s lives.
There are many techniquest or tools that can help a child deal with their anger. However just because something works for one child does not mean it works for another, there is no one key to dealing with anger, a lot of trial and error has to happen to find what helps to cool you down. It is important to know that the first step to calming your children’s anger down is to reflect on it. By bringing it up as a topic of conversation and reading books about it you are already on your way to a calmer child.
I always began teaching about anger by giving children an understanding of how anger escalates. We discuss that there are different levels of anger and that we usually do not start out furious, but after several things happen our anger gets stronger and stronger. I use the metaphor of an escalator rising up to show the escalation process. This awareness helps children to calm themselves down BEFORE they get furious and have a fit.
The next and most important step is to give our children the tools they need to calm themselves down. I called this their anger tool box. Since every child is different, ever child’s anger tool box should be different as well. We would discuss the types of things they could do to calm themselves down. My daughter loves art and reading so those are two tailored made things she can do to calm herself down. A great way to fill up a child’s tool box is to reflect on the things they enjoy.
Several other techniques that work well with many children are:
deep breaths / counting
taking a minute alone
going to a calming place
envisioning a their favorite place
talking about it
walking away from the situation
There is no quick fix to anger. Even as an adult I find myself struggling with calming down at times. Discussing these issues often times help to give your child a sense of understanding and power over the situation. Obviously, the suggestions above will take more than one day to develop, however they are well work bringing up and introducing into your child’s life. My next post will be on one specific anger management technique which I found worked with the most angry children in my classrooms.
***Let us Know: What techniques work to calm down your children????***
Written By Nicole Rowley