Dealing with the Angry Child

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Teach Children to Express Themselves Verbally
One of the most important goals for parents is to help children develop respect for themselves and others. To respond effectively to an angry child, tell the child that you accept his or her angry feelings but offer other suggestions for expressing them. For example, encourage the child to say things like, “It makes me angry when you wear my clothes without asking.” It is also helpful to tell children how you feel about their angry outbursts. Young children, in particular, tend to react properly once they understand the cause of your frustration.

Show Affection, Interest and Humor
Sometimes all that is needed for an angry child to regain control is a show of affection and interest. A child about to behave in a destructive way can often be calmed by simply having an adult nearby. Tension can also be eased with good-natured humor. Kidding the child out of a temper tantrum offers the child an opportunity to “save face.” However, it is important to distinguish between face-saving humor and teasing or ridicule.

Provide Physical Outlets
Sometimes parental rules, as well as physical space, may be too confining to permit healthy freedom of expression. Aggressive behavior can be channeled by giving children interesting challenges involving exercise and movement. Plan the surroundings so that boisterous behavior will be less troublesome.

Discipline Thoughtfully
There is a fine line between punishment that is hostile and discipline that is educational. Good discipline includes creating an atmosphere of quiet firmness and clarity. Punishment is unduly harsh and it is often associated with ridicule and attacks on the child’s integrity.

Recognize and Model Appropriate Behavior
Tell the child what behaviors please you. Make such comments as, “I appreciate your hanging up your clothes without being told” or “You were really patient while I was on the phone.” In situations involving anger, it is always best for parents to not lose their tempers. Unfriendly or cruel remarks by other children should also not be tolerated. Instead, build a positive self-image. Encourage children to see themselves as valued and valuable persons.