Anger is a natural part of life, yet it is something we frown open in our society and try to hide.
I believe when anger is suppressed, it eats away at us, causing ongoing problems well beyond the tantrum.
Some people believe that anger is a negative emotion. Whether you agree or not, feeling this way needs to be acknowledged and released, instead of hidden away. How often have we seen an angry child being told off by an angry parent? A toddler tantrum in full swing with the parents displaying similar behaviour themselves? I’ve been there and done it myself. I think every single parent I’ve ever met would admit to having done the exact same once in a while.
Our children are a mirror of us
Our children are a mirror of the parent. If you are angry and not dealing with it, your child will learn and copy this behaviour. If this is you, just follow the steps below yourself, developing new habits and passing them onto your child.
Recognise the anger
Learning to recognize anger in your own body is fairly easy. Usually, we get a knotted, tight feeling somewhere, often clenching our fists and tightening our jaws. Ask your child where they feel the anger.
If you can establish why you or your child are feeling angry, do so. Sometimes, your child may not be able to put their feelings into words. That’s okay. If they do know, simply say, “Let’s release the anger, and then we can talk about it if you want to.”
Your child may not want to talk about why they feel angry. Please respect their choice.
Stamp and shout
Kids love to stamp and shout, especially when grown-ups join in. You can finish the activities with stamps and shout because it seems to be an effective way to calm children down, and get them ready for story time.
Here’s what to do
I like to put music on lively, fun music that can be played quite loudly (optional, but great!).
Now, stamp your feet as hard as you can, march around, clench your fists and move your arms vigorously while you march and shout. If you can’t think of anything to shout, just shout “March, march, march, march…” Shout whatever comes to mind.
Don’t worry too much about what your child wants to say. Of course, I do not approve of swearing, but your child may feel very angry with a particular person and want to shout, “I hate … (name of the person they feel angry with…)!” You can help your child work on being positive about this person later. Now is the time to release the anger.
When the anger is lifting, I like to do ‘the silly dance’ (whatever moves come to mind). This lightens the mood and often results in lots of giggling. See who can do the silliest dance.
Finally, calm down, lie on the floor, let your body relax, and imagine melting into the ground. Let every part of your body melt. Close your eyes and count to 10. Slowly breathe in and hold 1, breathe out slowly 2, in 3, out 4…
Now, get up and hug your child.
Pillow punching is a superb way to release anger. Let your child punch, scream, shout, lay on the bed, and kick and scream in the safety of your home.
Hugs and listening
When your child is feeling calm, make time for lots of hugs and listening. As parents, we often want to solve all our children’s problems. This is very rarely needed or what your child really wants from you. In my experience, children just want parents to listen.
Empower your child
Now your child knows it’s okay to feel angry. He/she knows how to release the anger in a positive way. Once your child is calm, they may want to talk about what made them angry. Firstly, as I said earlier, listen. Try asking your child empowering questions. What could you do to change the situation so that you don’t let this get you angry again? How could you make the situation better? These questions will help your child think for themselves rather than look at you to solve all their problems. This will give your child a tremendous amount of self-esteem and self-empowerment.
EFT (Emotional freedom technique) is a simple tapping technique that is extremely effective to use with children. It is simply tapping on meridian points, very similar to the way that acupuncture works, except without needles. I particularly like EFT for kids because it is something your child can do for themselves, practising the technique both at home and elsewhere, such as school.
Focusing on the positive
Help your child to focus on what they want. The law of attraction works by manifesting what we focus on. Therefore, if you think that things are going to turn out badly, they most likely will. If your child was angry because of schoolwork, help him/her to focus on enjoying schoolwork, and it becomes more straightforward for them.