Question from the Parenting Trenches: “How do I deal with my child’s anger?”

Young girl indoors cryingOur emotions are an amazing quality that God invested in each one of us. Some people’s emotions ride a little closer to the surface than others… but believe it or not, we all have them. Our kids have them too.  You don’t have to be a scholar to know that.

Here’s a great question from a parent that I believe is common to many.

Our 4 year old has recently been very angry. What are some ways to help him with this?

Hope Hall is our fpKIDS Elementary Coordinator at the Blount Campus. As a mother of 5, she is well versed in the emotions of kids and how to help them work through them.  Here is what Hope had to share…

I would start with prayer. I am a mother of 5 so I can tell you from experience that all children are different. They respond differently to circumstances and act out their frustrations differently. I would pray that God would reveal to you through conversations with him and through His word (the Bible) just what is the root of the anger. This would give you a great place to start.

My 6 year old doesn’t like to be told no. He acts out (especially in public) when he is told that he can’t have something or can’t do something that he has decided he should be able to have or do. So, we now have conversations before entering the store about what my expectations are. How I expect him to act and respond. I also decide before hand on what the consequence will be if I don’t get that behavior.

I have noticed that being positive and praising him is what helps him make wise choices with his behavior. So, if it’s been busy around the house and he hasn’t received as much attention then those are times when I notice he seems to act out more. I can solve that by just spending some quality time with him reading a book or playing a game. While giving him my full attention we talk about why he responds in anger and how we should respond in different situations. I also love to attach everything with a bible verse. I love to show him how God answers my prayers through his Word. We sometimes memorize the verses together so that I can give him a friendly reminder the next time we are in the situation.

There are 4 great tactics we learn from Hope’s insight.

1.  Set Expectations
When kids know what’s expected, they have an easier time meeting them. Holding kids accountable for their behavior is an important reality of life. You set them up to win when you tell them in advance what you will hold them accountable to.

2.  Have a Plan
Already have a response planned out in your mind.  If your child decides to disobey or act out, you should already know what you’re going to do.  Don’t leave it up to chance. When you do, you’re more likely to act out of anger or make threats you can’t deliver.

3. Observe
Watch for factors that contribute to your child’s response. Do you see a pattern? What can you do to change the pattern? Or to better prepare your child for the impact?

4. Praise
Catch them doing what you want them to do. Some of the best words to invest in your child’s heart are “I notice you…”; “I always love when you…”; “I’m so thankful you…” These words spoken consistently over time will affirm your child.

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