Dealing with an angry child

When a child misbehaves, look for the emotional reasons first and give him time and space to cool down.
When a child misbehaves, look for the emotional reasons first and give him time and space to cool down.PHOTO: ST FILE

Use a calm, but firm, voice with your child and give him time and space to cool down

WARNING: RAGE ALERT

Consider seeking professional help if you notice the following red flags, advises Dr Sanveen Kang-Sadhnani of Thomson Paediatric Centre - The Child Development Centre:

• Your child's anger is becoming more intense and frequent.

• His anger is affecting his overall functioning.

• There are changes in your child's personality.

• Teachers highlight that he has behavioural problems.

• You are afraid of your child.

The worst thing a parent can do is to join in the rage. How can you expect your child to handle anger positively when you are modelling negative coping skills?

DEFUSING YOUR ANGRY CHILD

You might be tempted to smack or yell at your child for acting up.

Don't. Use these strategies to help Junior cope with his intense emotions instead.

Manage your own emotions

The worst thing a parent can do is to join in the rage.

How can you expect your child to handle anger positively when you are modelling negative coping skills?

Ms Jillian Boon, a senior educational psychologist from the Institute of Mental Health's department of child and adolescent psychiatry, says children often mimic what their parents do.

Use a calm, but firm, voice instead of reacting to your child's anger emotionally, says Dr Sanveen.

Listen and talk it through

While you should not give in to your child's tantrums and demands, it is important for you to learn to listen to what he is trying to say or communicate through his angry reactions, Dr Sanveen advises.

From there, you can find out what is bugging him and target the underlying issues.

This might not work, though, when he is in the midst of an intense meltdown.

In this instance, give him some time and space to let off some steam and calm down.

Distraction tactic

This can be especially helpful when dealing with children under the age of five.

Encourage him in activities he likes such as drawing, going for a walk around the park or reading, says Dr Sanveen.

The distraction helps to divert his attention and prevent an emotional outburst.

Play the "Name it, claim it, aim it" game

Teach your child to express himself and work through his anger with this game.

First, get him to name his emotions and take responsibility for them by using words like, "I feel angry and mad!"

Be careful not to use words like "she made me mad", as the aim is to teach the child to be responsible for his feelings and not engage in a blame game.

Next, guide him to express his anger in a positive manner.

Strategies include taking deep breaths, exercising, drawing or writing down feelings.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline 'Dealing with an angry child'. Print Edition | Subscribe