In this discussion, we briefly review the top three ways to stop child anger outbursts. We also discuss possible underlying causes for chronic child anger outbursts.
Very young children have temper tantrums because their brains have not yet developed a method of calmly expressing their feelings and emotions. As children mature, they are better able to communicate their feelings using words, and they gain greater control over how to regulate their emotions.
By the time children are 7-8 years old, their tantrums should be lessening in duration and frequency. Older children typically have an increased ability to control their anger, but it helps for parents and other adults to implement some useful strategies to help children develop skills to control their anger.
Here are the top 3 ways of stopping child anger outbursts:
- Name it and draw it-give anger a silly name like Mr. Volcano or Miss Thunderbolt . Children can’t usually find appropriate words when they are angry. When children are calm, give them specific words to use when they are angry. Using their words when they are angry validates their feelings and helps to de-escalate the situation.
- Stay calm and don’t overreact-accept that the child is angry and redirect the child’s actions. Give the child a pillow to punch or some paper to tear or crumple up. Send them out to shoot some hoops or let them pound it out with play-dough.
- Model appropriate actions for anger-we all get angry sometimes. When you are angry, model how to use words to verbalize that you are angry. Make light of the fact that you got mad and wonder out loud how you can solve your problem. Children learn when parents model the steps before them.
There may be an underlying cause for children who continue to have tantrums and anger issues after they are 8 years old. Disorders like ADHD, autism, sensory integration, anxiety, or effects of trauma may contribute to some children’s difficulty in controlling their anger. If you suspect there’s something more than normal child anger going on, it’s a good idea to ask your mental health professional to have your child evaluated.