, Gloucester, MA


July 12, 2013

Tips for teaching children to deal with anger

It seems that even though anger is a natural and vital human emotion that needs to be recognized, expressed and acknowledged, it is not clearly understood. When someone is angry, it is an important signal that some deeper inner feelings need to be explored. In the same way that pain is a symptom of physical illness or injury, anger is a symptom of emotional pain or injury. The source is usually about hurt feelings because one has been mistreated, disrespected, ignored, maligned, or experiences the feeling that in some way an injustice has been done.

Angry feelings are not a bad thing. Anger can be positive and appropriate, says author Rachel Remen, M.D., in her book, “Kitchen Table Wisdom … Stories that Heal.” “Often, anger is a sign of engagement with life. People who are angry are touched deeply by the events of their lives, and feel intensely about them. Anger is a demand for change, a passionate wish for things to be different.”

So, one of the most important things that parents can do to promote their children’s emotional health is to teach them, at a very early age, to recognize their anger and to explore it to find out what is the underlying issue. When anger is not recognized and explored, it builds as it moves through stages of irritation, annoyance, frustration and, ultimately, rage. If angry feelings are not addressed appropriately they will be expressed in highly dysfunctional ways with a child acting out those feelings in destructive behaviors — hitting siblings, doing poorly at school, defying parental rules.

Parents need to ask their children with kindness, “What are you angry about? Is that the only thing you are angry about or is there something else?” If a child is unable to verbalize the source of his or her angry feelings, a parent might suggest that the child think about what’s bothering him or her, and that they will talk about it a little later. Of course, children who have not yet learned the language of expressing feelings may not be able to share them clearly, so a parent might make it a little game. “OK, let’s play a guessing game, I’ll guess what’s bothering you and you can tell me if I’m getting it right by saying ‘warm, cold, or hot!” Creating a safe, fun atmosphere allows the child to understand that it is a good thing to understand what angry feelings are about.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Your news, your way
Pictures of the Week
Comments Tracker
AP Entertainment Videos
Adam Levine Launches Clothing Line for Women Paul Wesley Sinks His Teeth Into Directing Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Josh Thompson Streams Album to Hook New Fans Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast ShowBiz Minute: Singer, Young, Poehler Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Nas Movie Opens Tribeca Film Festival Zooey Deschanel Adds Designing to Her Repertoire Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show 'Half of a Yellow Sun' Hits the Big Screen Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Swift's Bus Drives Into Country Hall of Fame ShowBiz Minute: Cyrus, Walker, Combs Pedro Pascal Plays 'Game of Thrones'' Red Viper Deeley Shows Acting Chops in Hulu's 'Deadbeat' Ora Strips Efron at MTV Awards ShowBiz Minute: MTV Awards, Lopez, Royals Stars Hit Red Carpet for MTV Movie Awards Conan Backs Colbert, Hosts MTV Movie Awards