Angry Kids

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Ways to Help the Angry Child While no person or no family can be anger-proof there are ways you can help your child get a handle on anger. 1. Help your child have inner peace Research has shown, and our experience supports the observation, that connected children and their parents get angry with each other less. The connected child, growing up with a sense of well- being, has peaceful modeling. He will get angry , but he learns to handle the anger in such a way that it does not take over his per
  Ways to Help the Angry ChildWhile no person or no family can be anger-proof there are ways you can help yourchild get a handle on anger.1. Help your child have inner peaceResearch has shown, and our experience supports the observation, that connectedchildren and their parents get angry with each other less. The connected child,growing up with a sense of well- being, has peaceful modeling. He will get angry, but he learns to handle the anger in such a way that it does not take over hispersonality. Connected parents know their children well, so they are less likely to create situations that provoke them and their children to anger. Attached parents know they don't have to be harsh to be in control.The unconnected child operates from inner turmoil. Down deep this child feels something important is missing in his self and he is angry about it. (This feelingmay continue into adulthood.) This void is likely to reveal itself as anger toward himself and parents, placing everyone at risk for becoming an angry family.2. Don't let your child stuff angerEncourage your child to recognize when he is angry, starting with the toddler. Be an attentive listener, helping your child work through feelings. Given a willing audience that shows empathy rather than judgment, children will often talk themselves out of their snits. Our eight-year-old, Matthew, insisted on watching acertain TV program. I disagreed, and he became angry. Matt felt that he absolutely had to watch the program. I felt that the program content was harmful to hisgrowing self and to family harmony. I listened attentively and nonjudgmentallywhile Matt pleaded his case. After he had made his appeal, I made mine. With calm authority, I made my own points, while conveying to Matt that I understood butdid not agree with his viewpoint. I asked him probing questions, such as: Whatabout the program is so important to you? Could you think of an activity thatis more fun than watching this program? Matt, do you understand why I don't want you to watch it? Are you just bored? If so, I have an idea... Gradually Matt realized that this program was not worth getting so worked up about. As thedialogue continued, his eyes dried and his reddened face relaxed. I'm sure his pulse rate was coming down, too. We ended this encounter with a chuckle about howhe had let such a stupid program upset him. We went out and played catch instead.3. Look beneath the bad kidThe habitually misbehaving child is usually an angry child. If your child seems bad all the time or you don't know what else to do or your child seems withdrawn, search beneath the surface for something that is angering your child. In counseling parents of these children, I have found two causes: Either there is alot of family anger  mother and/or father is on edge all the time and the child incorporates these feelings as part of himself; or the child feels angry becausehis sense of well- being is threatened. Helping children who misbehave repeatedly or seem bad more than good usually begins with a total family overhaul. Take inventory of the influences in your child's life. What builds up his self-esteem? What tears it down? What needs are not being met? What inner anxiety is atthe root of the anger? Anger is only the tip of the iceberg, and it warns of needs to be dealt with beneath the surface.Inner anger often causes a child to withdraw. In a struggle to ward off attackson a shaky self-image, this child puts on a protective shell. On the surface hemay seem calm, but underneath a tight lid is a pressure cooker of emotions needing to be channeled or recognized. To keep the lid on, the child withdraws, avoiding interaction that might set him off. This is why we advise getting behind theeyes and into the mind of your child  things may look different from that perspective.It's devastating for a child to feel that she is a bad kid. Unless that feeling is reversed, the child grows up acting the part. To get the bad feeling outof your child, intervene with a reassuring You're not bad, you're just young, and young people sometimes do foolish things. But Daddy is going to help you stopdoing them so you will grow up feeling like you are the nice person I know you  are. This sends a message to your child that you care enough to find the good child beneath the bad behavior.4. Laughter  the best medicine for angerHumor diffuses anger and keeps trivial upsets from escalating. Our kids love spaghetti  the messier the sauce, the more they love it. Once at dinner we left theolder kids in charge of the two- and five-year-old, who were dawdling over theirmessy meal. As often happens in large families, the oldest child delegated responsibility to the next oldest and so on down the line: You watch the kids  Lauren and Stephen were ultimately left unsupervised, and a spaghetti frenzy ensued.When we discovered the stringy mess we scolded the older kids for allowing it tohappen. While we yelled at them, they yelled at each other. Lauren and Stephenpeered up at their angry elders, sauce covering their cheeks and foreheads and spaghetti in their hair. We all began to laugh, and worked together, in good spirits, to clean up the kids and the mess. Now when we delegate authority, we're more careful to be sure the appropriate-aged child really is on duty.5. Model appropriate expressions of angerAnger that is expressed inappropriately blocks your ability to discipline wisely. For example, your four-year-old does something stupid. She covers the dog withspaghetti sauce, and the dog bounds off into the living room leaving orange-redpaw prints on the white carpeting. This is not the time to blow your top. The more aggravating the deed, the more you need a clear head to evaluate your options in handling the misbehavior. Each situation is different, and you must be ableto think straight to choose the reaction that best fits the action. Being in astate of rage clouds your thinking. Your unthinking expressions of anger cause the situation to escalate. You hit the dog (which causes him to run through morerooms leaving more sauce behind); you spank the child and send him to his room (which leaves you, still seething, to clean up the mess alone). By the time the episode is over everyone feels abused. An approach less draining on everyone requires a level head and a dose of humor: quickly grab the dog and head for the bath tub, calling for your child to come along (in the most cheerful voice possible) to help de-sauce the dog and then the rug. Your child learns how you handle acrisis and how much work it is to clean up a mess. A temper tantrum from you can't undo the childish mess, it can only add to it.
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