Controlling anger together with your children
In order to regulate emotions, at whatever age, much time and effort is needed. The previous article provided perspectives that help parents to be more understanding when children are angry. Parents can choose how to react to their children and guide them to gradually learn how to overcome anger more easily. Here are some small suggestions to help parents practise with their children to adjust angry, sulky behaviours such as crying or screaming when in a tantrum.
What to avoid when a child is in a tantrum:
● Do not leave the child alone. Leaving children alone in anger can cause them to think that they have to deal with frightening emotions on their own (while they do not have this ability yet), which goes against the assertions or words of affection the parents often tell them. It is advised to take your child to a safer and quiet place, sit away from the child with a calm attitude so that he/she knows your support is there; or parents can “sneakily” observe children through mirrors and glasses. When children insist on being alone, say you love them before leaving and at all costs tell them they can always change their mind and go to an adult if they need to.
● Do not lecture your child: Talk and analyze with him/her when both you and the child are calm. Because when angry, adults will not want to be “lectured”. Rising emotions temporarily deprive us of the ability to receive information and reason. When speaking, ask open-ended questions so that the child speaks his or her mind first, and listens to the child with a thoughtful, patient attitude. Then it is the parents’ turn to state their opinions and explain; use simple language, a warm tone, and sympathy within the limits of the child. Children will feel loved and respected, and then what we want to teach them will be more easily absorbed.
4 steps to help you manage your anger
Step 1: Stay calm.
Why do you need to calm down?
○ Because you can’t reassure your child when you yourself are losing your temper. If the parents are angry, the child loses the fulcrum to calm down again.
○ Because children often learn most quickly through observation and imitation. Children will “copy” how parents behave whether positive or negative. For children, the behavior of parents is the norm.
○ Because children remember what their parents most often and most quickly react to, and continue to repeat that behaviour when they need to state their intentions.
Step 2: Trust your child.
This is an important step to gradually eradicate the propensity to throw a tantrum in children. When children learn that they do not need to shout for recognition or cry for parental care, they will reduce negative behavior.
Even though the child has “nonsensical” thoughts, acknowledge his or her opinion without having to agree with the child. The child is also an independent individual with separate thoughts and feelings. Let the child always feel that what he or she feels is true to oneself. For example, “Does the milk today taste different from it what did yesterday? I get it”, even though the 2 milk cartons are identical!
Step 3: Name his/her feelings.
For example, “Are you feeling very scared?” This activity trains the child on how to recognize emotions, gradually reducing the fear of those emotions for the child.
The voice of the parents over time will become the inner voice of the child, guiding the child to self-control.
Step 4: Allow your child to release all emotions in a quiet, safe place.
The principle is “If you want to hurry, you have to slow down.” If you want to make your child’s emotions quickly go away, give your child time to return to normal, do not urge. Make sure there are no sharp objects, fragile and precious items in the space. If possible, add some soft objects such as pillows or fluffy animals. This will help your child calm down faster.
Applying the above methods requires parents to also practice their own emotional conditioning, to improve emotional intelligence with their children, which is important for success in adulthood.