6 Ways to Respond to Your Child in Order to Reduce Anger and Promote Calm
Anger is a natural human emotion that we all experience from time to time. However, when anger becomes excessive and unmanageable, it can be destructive if it is not handled in a healthy way. When dealing with children, it is important to remember that they are still learning how to effectively communicate their feelings and emotions. This can lead to them becoming frustrated and angry easily, which can in turn cause parents to become frustrated and angry.
When a child’s anger is not addressed or managed in a constructive way, it can lead to problems like aggression, tantrums, and problems in school. For parents and caregivers, managing anger in our children can be one of the most difficult challenges we face. Not only do we need to find ways to reduce our child’s anger outbursts, but we also need to teach them how to regulate their emotions and stay calm in difficult situations.
In some cases, these outbursts may be due to external factors such as stress or difficulty dealing with change, while in other cases they may be due to the child’s own emotional regulation difficulties. When children are angry, it’s important to have a plan for how to respond. Responding angrily ourselves will only further escalate the situation and make things worse. We want to teach them to manage their anger in healthy ways in order to help them tolerate uncomfortable emotions, recognize that the emotional intensity of the situation will pass and that there are different solutions to solve the problem.
6 Ways to Respond
When we respond to our children in a calm and rational manner, it shows that we are in control of the situation and that we are capable of handling whatever they throw at us. This not only reassures the child that everything is okay, but it also sets the tone for future interactions. Here are 6 strategies for responding to your child in order to reduce their anger and co-regulate their emotions:
- Take a moment to calm down before responding to your child.
Children feed off of the energy of those around them, and if they see that you’re getting upset, it will only make things worse. You may decide to take a break by letting your child know that you need to step out of the room to calm down, take deep breaths, or count to 10 so that you do not say something unkind or harsh out of frustration.
- Use a calm and gentle voice when speaking to your child.
A negative tone of voice can often make things worse. Instead, stay calm and positive, and try to diffuse the situation with humor or by speaking in a soothing voice. When using a gentle tone of voice, this provides a cue to your child that you are safe and grounded and they can trust you to help them navigate these strong emotions.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings.
Let them know that you understand what they’re feeling and why. It might be helpful to have a feelings chart available to them with pictures so that they can point to the image that most closely matches how they feel. You can also ask them how their body is feeling and what thoughts they are having and reflect what behaviors you are noticing in a calm and non-judgemental way.
- Make sure that you are actually listening to your child before responding.
It can be easy to get wrapped up in the situation and start reacting ourselves, but it is important to remain neutral in order to maintain a clear headspace.
- Help your child understand their anger
One of the best ways to help your child manage their anger is to help them understand it. When children understand why they’re feeling angry, they’re able to better manage those feelings. This may be difficult to do, as children are often not able to express their feelings in words. You can help your child do this by talking about the things that make them angry and explaining why they feel that way. You can also teach your child about healthy ways to express their anger.
- Keep your expectations realistic.
It is important to keep your expectations realistic as this will avoid disappointment and frustration on your part as well as your child’s. Expecting a toddler to sit quietly through a long dinner is not realistic, nor is it fair. A power struggle will only make the situation worse. So, try to avoid arguing with your child or trying to force them to do something they don’t want to do.
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