Managing Anger In Your Child: Assertiveness Vs. Aggression
As your child grows, you may wonder how managing anger fits into the overall picture of their development, especially when you see behaviors and actions that make you cringe.This kind of stress can cause a lot of tension between you and your partner, and you'll be helping the whole family if you can get this issue under control.
Although aggressive behavior such as hitting, screaming and even biting is not seen as all that unusual in a child of one or two years of age, the same conduct in children merely a year or two older is often seen as cruel and problematic. Controlling feelings is, however, a learned skill and can be very difficult to master (even for some adults!). Learning effective anger coping skills provides kids with some excellent tools to resolve problems with other kids or adults.
Staying calm and collected not only requires a fair amount of self-control and discipline, but also a basic understanding of appropriate social behavior and morality. Most children under five or six have minimal comprehension of what is socially acceptable-at least beyond pleasing Mom or Dad. Even then, some kids find it hard to control their temper by managing anger. It's important to discern the difference between a child who is aggressively 'acting out' owing to an unstable or unsafe home environment for instance, and one who is simply trying to be assertive.
Many kids don't recognize the strength of their influence on others or the full consequences of their actions. In a world where they're often being told what to do, where to go and how to behave, it doesn't seem all that unreasonable that they may sometimes need to speak out and be heard.
School-aged children who continue to act obnoxiously or aggressively may have never experienced the opportunity of being truly listened to in a loving environment. For parents, listening involves not only hearing your children's jokes and laughter, but perhaps more importantly hearing about those hurt, angered and unhappy emotions, too. So often, children are not allowed to speak negatively, complain, or offer a difference of opinion and thus their feelings continue to build up until one day they may unintentionally vent or lash out. Remember, though, that hearing your children out doesn't mean submitting to their every whim.
Aside from releasing pent-up emotions, kids who behave aggressively and aren't good at managing anger may also do so because they've been rewarded for it. Parents may have hoped to raise a strong child who can to stand up for him- or herself in rough situations. But parents may have inadvertently reinforced aggressive behavior by giving it attention. Indeed, when adults use verbally aggressive or physical means of discipline they may unintentionally make it more likely that their kids will act that way in future.
Imagine, for example, a child quietly piecing a puzzle together. He/she has almost completed the puzzle, but can't get the final pieces to come together. Throughout this quiet time the parent has been around, but has said absolutely nothing. Nothing, that is, until the child becomes obviously frustrated and throws the puzzle across the room and begins screaming or swearing loudly. At this point the parent intervenes by reprimanding the child and sending him/her to their room.
It might appear the parent did everything appropriate, except that the only attention this child received was negative. If this is commonly the case, the child may begin to feel that any attention is better than no attention and as a result may continue to act out disruptively in daily activities. When dealing with aggressive children, it's worth the effort to praise even the smallest attempt at proper behavior, while paying very little, if any, attention to negative conduct. Praise can be a very strong motivator.
Remember, too, that entrenched behaviors can be very difficult to change. Managing anger can take a lot of patience and motivation to turn the corner towards more collaborative communication. Turning an aggressive child into a non-aggressive one won't happen overnight, and you can expect the odd outburst to occur even once you've applied specific anger coping skills. Such occasions, however, simply offer additional opportunities to apply managing anger skills more effectively, for the benefit of both your child and your relationship.
Visit these pages for more information:
Techniques To Improve Family Communication
Skills To Help Resolve Family Conflict
Angry Kid? Here's Five Tips You Need To Know
Addressing Separation Anxiety In Children
Time Management Tips Give You And Your Partner More Time Together
My Parents Hate My Boyfriend (Or Partner)! What Should I Do?
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