When a child struggles with anger, it can be challenging for both the parents and the child. Some children are easily frustrated. An insignificant event can cause them to lose their temper, yell, or become aggressive.
Children need discipline and protection. But how can we provide for these needs in a Christian way? After all, the Bible tells us that children are a gift from God.
If your child experiences angry outbursts, and especially if their anger interferes with their relationships and quality of life, it's important that you teach them how to deal with these feelings in a healthy way.
In this article, we’ll discuss four ways to overcome anger management issues in kids.
Anger is an instinctive, natural reaction to threats. We need some anger to survive. In contrast, anger becomes problematic when it becomes out of control, causing you to say or do things you later regret.
No one likes to feel angry, but we all feel it sometimes. Because adults, who are role models to children, often struggle to express anger in healthy and constructive ways, it's not surprising that anger can often manifest in children through aggressive behavior.
Frequent angry outbursts can be common. In fact, a child younger than four years old can have as many as nine tantrums in one week, during which the child will cry, kick, stomp, and hit for up to 10 minutes.
By kindergarten, most children outgrow these meltdowns. If a child's tantrums persist as they get older and cause family problems or school problems, professional help may be necessary.
There can be many causes for a child's anger, irritability, and aggression. A common example is when a child feels frustrated because they can't get what they want or because they’re asked to do something they’re not enthusiastic about.
Children suffering from long-term anger issues are likely to have a comorbid mental disability, such as ADHD, autism, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as Tourette's syndrome. But in order to rule these options out, it’s imperative to see a clinical psychologist.
It’s also widely believed that genes play a role in anger and aggression. A child’s social environment is a contributor as well.
Children who suffer from anxiety or who face trauma, family dysfunction, or bad parenting practices, such as harsh, inconsistent punishment, may exhibit anger or aggression that interferes with their daily lives.
To help your angry child, it’s important to understand them.
Managing anger in a Biblical way means we must recognize that ungodly anger can be a source of sin. As Christians, it’s important to teach our children the meaning of ungodly anger.
As we deal with anger due to someone hurting us, we must see the Lord. The Bible shows readers that what happens in their lives is no surprise to a faithful God who uses every situation to bring joy to His people.
As we consider these biblical truths, our hearts will be moved to change the way we respond to difficult situations and people. We can learn how to control anger from many verses in the Bible. It can also help to read these verses to our children as well.
“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself, it tends only to evil” (Psalms 37:8).
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper, exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29).
“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
“Be angry and don't sin; don't let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26).
We all get angry at some point in our lives, whether we're young or old. Despite that reality, the Bible teaches that Christians shouldn't sin in anger. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to help your child cope with their anger issues.
To help your child overcome anger issues, you can redirect their behavior through physical activity or problem-solving.
The child's energies can be directed into an activity that helps release tension when they are exhibiting temper tantrums or challenging behaviors.
These activities can be anything from:
When you’re angry, your breathing gets quicker and shallower. One easy way to calm your body and reduce your anger is through deep breathing exercises.
Try telling your child to take deep breaths in through their nose and out from their mouth when their anger seems out of control. Make sure they are breathing from their belly rather than their chest. Have them repeat these breathing exercises whenever they feel the need.
You can also try progressive muscle relaxation to help your child relax. During this exercise, you slowly tense and then relax each muscle group in your body. Start with the head and work your way to the toes, or vice versa.
Muscle relaxation can also be achieved through mindfulness and meditation.
Time outs have been a go-to technique for managing problem behavior for decades and are a staple of many parent training programs.
They're recommended by most pediatricians to curb negative behaviors ranging from talking back to physical aggression.
It’s a great cool-down technique, and it can help kids control their emotions. Research indicates that when used properly — along with other techniques that balance nurture and structure — time outs are effective and don't cause harm.
Some things to remember when using time outs are:
If time-outs seem suitable for your parenting style, keep them consistent. If you want to rein in aggressive behavior, repeat it every time it occurs. When kids return from time-out, give them the chance to repair their behavior by apologizing.
Showing your children how you handle your anger is the best way to teach them how to deal with their anger.
If you lose your temper in front of your kids, they'll likely copy your behavior when they feel angry. But, if they see you exhibiting good coping skills, they'll pick up on that, too.
Though it's good to protect children from some adult problems, it’s healthy to show them how to handle anger when situations arise. Let your child know times when you feel frustrated, so he or she understands that adults also get mad at times.
It's a good idea to verbalize when something makes you angry in real-time so they can see how to handle it. When you verbalize your feelings, it teaches your children to talk about their emotions which is a good coping strategy.
Anger is a normal emotion for children.
But you can always help your child improve their anger management skills with the proper guidance. As Proverbs 22:6 reminds us, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
And remember, it's important to get professional help when kids have trouble coping with anger or their anger problems seem to be getting worse.