We don’t spend much time talking about angry children. Sometimes, it just feels too difficult to verbalize what is happening and how you feel about it. You don’t want people to think negatively about your child because he or she screams that they hate you regularly. And, you don’t want people to think you don’t love and cherish your child because you voice your pain or frustration.
When we can’t express our feelings or discuss our challenges, it leaves us acting in the dark, isolated and without support or guidance. It is, therefore, vital that there be space for people to talk about the parenting trials they grapple with and their reactions to them. This post opens up a conversation about angry children and offers some guidance on dealing with them appropriately. Hopefully, this makes you feel less isolated and empowers you to speak more about the situations you face as well.
Don’t Let It Escalate
When Your child screams at you, it threatens your authority and the natural reaction is to assert your power by raising your voice as well. Before long each of you is being pushed to top the other and neither of you is in control of the exchange. As the parent, you are better at regulating your emotions because you have had more practice. The best thing you can do is use your self-control to remain calm. This isn’t the time to challenge your child because it will become progressively more and more volatile and there won’t be a positive outcome for anyone involved. Just wait until your child calms down.
Don’t Start by Using Reason
If your first instinct isn’t to raise your voice in the face of an angry outburst, it might be to rely on logic and reason with your child. If you were in your workplace or dealing with one of your friends and things became tense, being reasonable is appropriate. Unfortunately, kids can’t stop their flood of emotions, exercise self-control, and turn to logic. When you are dealing with a child in the middle of a tirade or a tantrum, you have to develop a different approach and you have to wait until they calm down (noticing a pattern?).
Don’t Seize Up
Another possible parental response to a child’s anger is to freeze. Their fervor acts on your fight, flight, or freeze response and you know you can’t run or battle for your life, so you seize up. There is no doubt that these situations are overwhelming, paralyzing you and causing you to give in to your child. But, children catch on to this and they can get canny enough to purposely evoke this response in you. They will begin baiting you by acting out or having an attitude or being rude just to make you give in to their demands. So, you have to refuse the bait.
Don’t Punish Your Child for Being Angry
We all get angry, and we need safe spaces where we can let off steam. When your child has an outburst and they are screaming and appear unhinged, you have to make sure that you punish them only for actions that explicitly break the rules of your household and not for feeling strong emotions. If your child’s fit causes them to strike you or swear at you, there should be consequences and you can establish those after he or she calms down. But, if all your child does is stamp their feet and slam their bedroom door, you should just let it go. You will want to punish them for acting so disrespectful, but they will only perceive it as a sign that emotions are a bad thing that deserves to be penalized, and that’s not the lesson you want to teach them.
Audrey Mills is a mother of three boys and a full-time writer and blogger. She passionately writes about parenting, health, kids, marriage, self-improvement and addiction and its treatment for heroin addicts.