The Angry Child
Being a parent isn’t easy. Every child is different and none of them come with an instruction manual. Sometimes although we do the best we can, things can still go horribly wrong. Often children feel powerless and can lash out looking for ways to control their world.
Some children who don’t feel loved can easily become angry. That is not to say that they aren’t loved. Most children know they are loved but some just don’t feel it. Even as adults may sometimes feel unloved by people who they know love them.
The way we show love to our children is not always received by them as love. For example you may buy your child small gifts to show them you love them. This may be perfect for one child but another may prefer you to spend quality time with them reading or playing games. Or you may do things for your child such as cooking their favourite meal or making sure their PE kit is washed and ready for when they need it. This may make one child feel loved and valued when another child may need praise and acknowledgement. For more on this, I recommend The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.
Children express anger when they feel frustrated, threatened or hurt. However, unlike adults they have virtually no power to change things. When adults get angry they can usually, but not always, figure out what is wrong and then hopefully work towards changing it. When children get angry, occasionally they know what is causing it, although what they want to change may not be reasonable or possible. But more often they don’t have a clue why they are reacting this way.
Often as parents, we can cause our children’s anger. If this happens then it is worth looking at the situation to see if we can change the way we handle it to get a better response from them. It is always more productive to address behaviour when all parties are calm. Anger feeds on anger which is why using Time Out can be helpful. When you do discuss the situation with your child, be sure to listen to what they have to say. We adults tend to think we know what our children are thinking and feeling. Maybe, sometime we do, but not always. Children need to feel heard and understood as much as adults do. At what point in their lives do they move from having predictable thoughts and feelings to being a unique individual? There isn’t one, because we are all born unique.
Parents are most likely to be their child’s dominant role model, and as such the way we handle our own anger will probably be the way they learn to handle theirs.
If we can figure out what makes our child feel loved and take the time to hear and address, where possible, what makes them angry, we can reduce, although not eliminate, the number of flashpoints they have. When flashpoints occur, use Time Out and then discuss, when everyone is calm, what happened and what could change to make things better or easier. All children want and deserve to be treated with respect in the same way as adults.