This week we continue to talk about ways to help your children communicate their anger in healthy ways. Here are 2 more “Anger Busters”: Give them words to express their anger
When your child gets upset, help them by naming the emotion. For example, “I know you are angry, frustrated, sad, etc.” This helps them to put a label to their feelings. If you can help them to identify that when they are angry, they clench their fists, get tightness in their chest/belly, and squint their eyes, they are more likely to have awareness of their emotions.
Teach your children to use I-messages to express their anger. An I-message looks like this: ”I feel (sad, angry, etc.) when you (yell at me, don’t listen to me, etc.). I would like you to (fill in the blank)”.
It’s important that you model using I-messages with your children, instead of falling into the habit of using You-messages. You-messages sound more like this “You are causing me more work because you are lazy and did not pick up your own toys. Because of you, mommy is going to have to spend time out of her evening picking up after you because you didn’t do your chores.” You, you, you, you! Can you see how a You-message can be shaming, blaming, and cause your child to feel attacked?
I-messages are a much more effective way to communicate how you feel and what you need. Teaching your child to use them when they are angry can help keep them from escalating into a full-blown meltdown or temper tantrum if they can communicate how they are feeling to you, and feel understood.
Identify with their pain
Find a way to connect with your child when they are angry by letting them know you understand. Say things like “I remember a time when I didn’t get to go to a party” or “I remember when I asked for a Barbie for my birthday and didn’t get it.” This lets your child know that you have been there, too. You know how it feels to be let down, disappointed, and angry.
Use this opportunity to teach your child healthy ways to cope with their feelings. “You may not have got the Barbie you wanted for your birthday, but you did get a very cool kite. Why don’t we go outside and try it out together?” Helping your child to redirect their anger using coping skills can teach them very important tools that they will use the rest of their lives.
Source: Focus on The Family. “Anger Busters For Kids” by Lynne Thompson
Written by: Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW
Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.
Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.