Anger doesn’t have to be a problematic emotion. It serves a purpose, just like every other emotion. With a little guidance at an early age, kids can keep their cool in tough times. Anger management for kids may seem like a foreign topic to some parents, teachers, and childcare providers. But, the truth is, if you have a plan for approaching anger, before it arises, you can help the children in your life develop healthy anger management skills at an early age.
Help students build an emotional vocabulary, understand how the body reacts to anger, how to use simple distractions and recognize triggers in the future. Here are some tips for how to teach children how to identify and manage their anger.
Anger Awareness and Anger Management for Kids
When a child becomes angry, they may not know exactly what they’re feeling. Because anger is a very fast-acting emotion, it can be hard to put a stop to the anger train once it gets rolling.
This may be a bit more difficult for the younger children in your life, but one of the easiest ways to get started is to ask your child to talk to you about how they are feeling. This includes their physical sensations. Make it a habit to use words to describe your own feelings so they can hear them and apply them to real life situations.
You might even consider using words like hot, cold, big, or small to associate with certain feelings. These are words children can relate to.
Big or hot feelings might be anger. In fact, they may already associate hot with temper just from watching television. It’s often a common theme for anger.
Asking your child or student to talk about their feelings and learn how to identify them can help them keep anger under control because they are developing an awareness.
Distract Anger with Mindful Moments
If you notice your child or student becoming angry, it’s the perfect time to step in and teach some distraction strategies. Teach them to stop and distract themselves with a super simple activity like counting to ten or a mindful breathing exercise.
Doing so will not only stop the anger train in its tracks but it will also help bring the child back to the present moment, and out of their head (where they may be catastrophizing or ruminating). Download the free sign.
Label the Anger While Teaching Anger Management to Kids
When teaching anger management to kids, call the emotion what it is…or give it another name. For example, if you know your child is feeling angry, then tell them they are experiencing anger or that they appear to be mad.
When children are learning about their feelings, it can be hard for them to pinpoint what they are going through.
Labeling the feeling can help them understand not only that they are feeling angry, but it can also make them feel more “normal” in how they are feeling.
If a child becomes angry and isn’t sure what they are feeling, they may feel a bit out of control. Labeling their feelings can help the child feel empowered to take control of their emotions.
Heading the Anger Off
One of the best ways to teach children how to manage their anger is by helping them identify their triggers.
Knowing what makes them angry can help build their awareness and identify anger at the onset. Catching the anger before it escalates is key to successfully managing anger.
Ask your children to write down a list of things that make them feel angry, then come up with easy plans and action items for them to carry out when the trigger is present.
For example, if your child becomes angry at their sibling for taking a toy, teach them to label their emotion as anger, take a few deep breaths, and then take a walk, color, or do something that requires them to shift their focus.
Having your own plan to assist the children in your life, when they’re upset, will help you teach anger management when the emotions arise.
And it’s never too soon to start teaching your child social-emotional skills to help them now, and as they grow.