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Dealing with an angry child can be a delicate balancing act. Explaining anger, turning the focus on appropriate behavior, and setting a good example are just some of the ways to deal with an angry child. Other options to consider include changing the focus and supporting good behavior.
During an emotional breakdown, it may not be the best time to try to explain anger to an angry child. Before it comes to that point, teaching the child about emotions and how to handle difficult situations can be helpful. Explaining anger using examples of what might cause anger may allow the child to understand. In addition to explaining anger, it should be pointed out that experiencing anger is okay, but it is the way an individual responds to anger that makes the difference.
In the midst of an angry moment, the attention of an angry child should be demanded. Calming the child down and getting at the heart of what is causing the anger is key. Most of the time, a child will calm down when a parent or adult attempts to calm them down with a calm demeanor and tone. If a child seems to be inconsolable or begins to throw things or kick, physical restraint and removal from the situation may be necessary. This is to protect the child and others, and should only be used as a last resort.
For some children, a distraction can help. Possibly initiating an activity, such as taking a walk or singing a song together, can help calm the child down and help redirect the focus away from the situation. This can also serve as a way to teach the child about the mental health benefits associated with exercise and enjoyable activities.
Once things are under control, helping the child formulate a strategy for handling the anger may prevent further episodes. Identifying the cause of the anger and helping a child come up with solutions to the problem will teach the child how to deal with their emotions. This will allow them an opportunity to develop good problem-solving skills for all types of situations.
Setting a good example can go a long way in helping a child develop appropriate methods of handling anger and other emotions. Adults should be mindful of emotional reactions and outbursts in the presence of children. Using situations that result in anger as teaching opportunities can also provide children with a good role model when confronted with anger inducing situations in the future.
Rewarding good behavior and focusing on positive progress can help teach an angry child to control anger. Children respond well to compliments and praise. These types of positive reinforcements may help the child begin to replace angry moments with positive ones.