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Anger Prevention For Young Children


Small children don't know why they suddenly get angry. Heck, grandmas and grandpas have had a lifetime of experience, but they still succumb to angry feelings once in a while. So smart parents will start early to help children start learning how to recognize and control anger before it explodes, so that they can grow . . . but their anger will stay small.


Here are some tips to practice with your child at any age:


n       Teach your child words to use to express various kinds of anger. Often, the child erupts into a tantrum or kicking spree because he or she can't verbalize what's wrong. The longer your child lives without being able to accurately describe and express feelings, the more confusing and destructive your child's behavior may become. Help your child understand the differences between feeling "frustrated," "sad," "mad," "disappointed," and other negative emotions. Give your child a "feeling vocabulary"! Then your child can deal with angry feelings in a rational manner. The sooner your child can zero in on what's wrong and express it, the sooner your child can deal with the feeling in a more effective way than just acting out anger.


n       DON'T strike while the iron is hot, right in the middle of a tantrum or hissy fit. Wait 'til you've both cooled down to talk rationally about it. It's tempting to react to a child's angry outburst with one of your own. You're bigger, and can out-shout your child right now, and intimidate him or her to obtain silence and obedience, but what are you really teaching? Overpowering? Overcontrol? Your goal SHOULD be to teach your child self-control. So have a cooling-off period before you deal with your child over anger. You may need it more than he does! Go ahead and admit it; model the skills of self-control. Sending a child to his or her room for a "time out," is always an option. But you could also take a walk around the block together, or throw a ball in the back yard for a few moments, to calm down together in a warm and loving way. THEN talk about the anger, where it came from, and how to deal with it.


n       Recognize that the same adrenalin that makes your child's face red, voice loud, fists ball up and body get tense or violent is totally natural. It needs to find a way to be worked out of your child's system in a more constructive way than hitting, kicking, verbal abuse or the other negative, aggressive behaviors that come with anger. Suggest the old standbys: punching a pillow, jump-roping, shooting hoops, or any number of physical exercises that can really channel those angry feelings away, harmlessly. Best of all, your child will get a little exercise - and that's always makes a parent feel happy!


By Susan Darst Williams Heart Lessons 041 2007


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