Kids are champions when it comes to throwing tantrums. Sometimes, it can be frustrating for you as a parent especially when you’ve tried everything and you still find it difficult to get your child under control. In this article, we’ll share some anger management activities for kids that can help you teach your child how to control his or her temper.
Causes of Aggressive Behaviour in Children
As you may already know, in order to find an effective solution to a problem, you need to identify its root cause. Sometimes it happens that kids don’t know how to express emotions like anger in a healthy way and that could result in outbursts. According to a child psychologist with Yale Medicine Child Study Centre, children under 4 years of age can have episodes of crying, kicking and hitting as many as nine times a week. This is commonly triggered by frustration especially when a child doesn’t get what he or she wants.
“Toddlers tend to resort to physical expressions of their frustration, simply because they don’t yet have the language skills to express themselves,” says pediatric psychologist Emily Mudd, PhD.
Other factors such as genetics, environment, lack of sleep, trauma and harsh parenting styles can also contribute to a child’s frequent exhibition of anger.
Anger Management Activities for Kids
“Aggressiveness is a natural human response to anger,” says the American Psychological Association. This means that instead of trying to prevent your child from getting angry, you should teach him or her how to express anger without getting violent.
If you’re at that point where you’re certain that your child’s temper needs to be tamed, then these anger management tips and activities will help you teach your child how to control his or her emotions:
- Using Words
Assigning words to feelings is an activity that even kids in preschool are taught. You should remind your kids to express their feelings by using words and get them to practice saying what they’re feeling. Then let them know that by using words, you’ll be in a better position to make the situation better. To ensure your kids remember to use words, try to model the behaviour by verbalizing your feelings.
- Relaxation Techniques
Practising relaxation is a simple technique that can help your child calm down when things get heated. Choose words, images or cues that will help your child recall the practice of calmness. A favourite song, pre-taught breathing techniques or repetitively using calm words can all serve as an effective relaxation technique.
- Stepping Away
Sometimes, this is referred to as timeout and can help your child maintain control over the situation. For kids, especially older ones, consciously choosing not to react negatively can help them regain control of their emotions rather than lashing out in a haste. Also bring to his or her mind, the relaxation technique and use of words as recommended above.
- Practising empathy
Not a lot of anger management activities for kids practise empathy. But this is one of the best times to remind your child about empathy. Ask your child to imagine being in the other person’s shoes and look at things from a different angle. Encourage him or her to talk about or express how it feels at the moment.
Ask questions that help your child understand what others are feeling. With this and other activities that encourage empathy, your child will get better at managing anger.
- Showing Physical Affection
A hug, a kiss on the cheek or a warm pat on the back can help diffuse negative feelings of anger or frustration. For each time your child pulls through an anger-inducing experience without flaring up, you can reward him or her with a nice physical gesture as a reward for the effort made.
Exercising can serve as an effective method of combating anger issues. A brisk walk, a run or any other interesting physical activity can give kids something else to focus on besides the cause of their anger. By encouraging your child to calm his or her temper via exercises, you’re developing the habit of physical fitness as well as emotional control.
Sometimes, even good kids exhibit bad behaviours, throw tantrums or lose their temper. But when those reactions get out of hand, you need to be ready to help your kids deal with those anger issues. Based on a recommendation from a clinical psychologist, Denis Sukhodolsky, medical approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy and parent management techniques have a 65% success rate in reducing the frequency and intensity of tantrums.
However, in case your child doesn’t improve while practising these anger management activities for kids, then it is recommended that you consult a clinical psychologist.