Diffusing the Emotional Bomb
Managing Your Child’s Anger
Published: April 14, 2021
Image by Rachel Cho
There are good days and there are bad days. It is normal to get angry when things don’t go as planned. Anger manifests in different ways, and for most adults, it is easier to manage as they are able to consciously process their thoughts and feelings. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to children. At a young age where they are only beginning to make sense of the world around them, they are more prone to throw tantrums and express their displeasure without thinking about the consequences of their actions.
According to Yale Medicine, a child younger than 4 may have as many as nine tantrums per week, with episodes of crying, kicking, stomping, hitting, and pushing. The most common trigger is frustration stemming from a child’s inability to get what they want, or being asked to do something that they don’t feel like doing. Those who do not outgrow this kind of behavior have been found to face problems with peers, family, and school.
When your child throws a tantrum, don’t just wait for the storm to pass. Step in and do your best to diffuse the emotional bomb. Here are some tips from the Child Mind Institute that can help parents formulate calm and consistent responses to their kids who are having difficulty suppressing their anger:
Stand your ground.
Giving in is not the solution. Resist the temptation of surrendering to their demands during a meltdown. This should make them realize that they cannot get their way by simply whining about it.
Keep calm and carry on.
Don’t fight fire with fire. Be in control of your own issues as you work on de-escalating a child’s aggression. By keeping a clear head, you can be a good model in teaching your children the behavior that you want to see in them when dealing with stressors.
Be consistent in showing consequences.
For every action, there should be an equivalent reaction. Make it clear that positive behaviors will be rewarded and negative ones will have an impact such as limited gadget use or being grounded for a period of time. Be sure to follow through with rewards and consequences so kids will respect the process.
Talk when able.
Don’t strike while the iron is hot. Try to reason with your child only when things have calmed down. You would want to encourage a child to negotiate under a more peaceful environment.
Practice calming activities.
Do breathing exercises and other self-soothing techniques to help ease the tension. Giving affectionate, warm hugs can also help relay your love and care to your child, which should give them a sense of comfort.