It’s common for parents to misunderstand their children’s anger or sometimes the reason behind it. Temper tantrums in very young children are common and quite normal. However, it doesn’t stop with toddlers or young children. It can be noticeable with teens and young adults too, just in a different manner.
In adolescence, angry outbursts and flashes of bad attitude happen a lot. But why does it happen, and better yet, what myths hinder our understanding, and what can parents do to deal with it effectively?
Common Myths About Childhood Anger
What are the common myths about childhood anger?
- if your child is angry there must be underlying psychological issues
- a child’s angry outbursts are unpredictable
- your child requires more discipline
- an angry child is more likely to be violent
- it’s not a big deal–he or she will just grow out of it!
Let’s go more in depth about these myths, and uncover where the truth may lie.
An Angry Child May Be Hurting
Before you assume that your child is angry because of an unknown psychological issue, be aware that more often, the anger is a manifestation of emotional pain. For example, it is common for children of divorced parents to manifest anger at either or both parents. The child often feels helpless and doesn’t know what else to do or how voice their pain.
Anger is really just a reminder that children are not as resilient as adults sometimes think. They may be feeling some complicated things and often just don’t know how to voice it. So don’t ever just dismiss your child’s anger as a phase they’ll grow out of, or a psychological issue. Try to uncover the source of their pain.
Is the Anger a Warning?
Sometimes children do have psychological issues, especially when anger appears to be uncontrollable, unpredictable, or nearly constant. In these types of cases, the anger may be a warning to have your child seen by a professional. For example, one child who was constantly irritable and displaying angry outbursts at school was found to be suffering from allergies.
It’s always best to consult a medical professional before anger turns into something more uncontrollable.
Does Anger Lead to Violence?
Normal childhood anger normally does NOT lead to violence. However, when uncontrolled anger takes place, it’s always best to seek the help of a professional.
How Do I Help My Angry Child?
First of all, educate your child about anger and what is acceptable versus what is not. React with calm, and be the model for appropriate behavior your child needs. It can be tough, but remember that fighting fire with fire doesn’t work.
Listening calmly can result in positive benefits, both for you and for your child. A child who feels that he’s listened to is more likely to share his feelings, rather than bottle them up.
Most adults understand that bottled up feelings have to come out somehow, and anger is one of the ways we all blow off steam. Help your child understand his feelings and how he can work through them in constructive ways.
What If My Child Needs More Help Than I Can Give?
Sometimes a child may experience significant anger issues that he will not simply grow out of, and it’s hard for parents to know what is normal behavior and what isn’t. But anytime a parent feels powerless in the face of such anger is a good time to seek help.
If you need help with an angry child, know that you aren’t alone. There are tools and resources to help. Don’t be afraid to seek out those who are experienced in dealing with anger issues in children and teens.