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How Do I Deal with Anger in Children?

Tara Barnett
Tara Barnett

Dealing with anger in children is a complex problem because different adults in a child's life must address anger in different ways. It is also important to ensure that anger in children is not caused by dangerous problems, such as abuse or a health condition. Anger in children is a normal part of growing up, and each child must be socialized to cope with anger in an appropriate way. Adults can deal with anger through direct instruction, leading by example, or reprimand. Alternative strategies can be helpful in some cases.

Anger in your own children can cause problems at home, and parents must remember not to take anger personally. All children get angry, and anger in children is usually a result of feeling helpless. Teaching the child to respect boundaries and to express anger in a healthy way can often resolve the emotion completely. It is impossible for an adult to resolve anger issues in a child if the adult cannot remain calm, so practicing this skill is paramount.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

For adults who work with children who are not their own, dealing with anger can be difficult. Teachers and other adults in this situation must be sure to remain calm and to analyze the problem rationally. Children can be asked to calm down, or the problems with their actions can be explained to them directly. Many adults find that anger in children is resolved when the child is offered an opportunity to explain why he or she is upset.

Although anger is generally a healthy emotion, certain types of anger are considered unhealthy. This emotion can be unhealthy when it is self-destructive or results in violence. The habits of young children are often easily modified by physical intervention and reprimand, but older children can become genuinely dangerous. As such, conversation must usually be a component of dealing with anger in children.

In certain cases, anger is caused by situations outside the child's control, such as abuse or an unstable family life. Mental health problems can also cause anger and an inability to appropriately cope with this emotion. Older children may not always successfully deal with their emotions, but in the very least, they can typically understand why actions resulting from their emotions are wrong. Occasional anger is normal, even in older children, and is often a healthy part of expression.

More generally, dealing with anger in children requires creating a system that teaches personal skills. Anger must be met with a consistent response in order to generate permanent changes. There are many different strategies and theories about what causes anger, but what works for one child may not work for another. The techniques used to appropriately socialize a child depend not only on family dynamics, but also on culture.

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