I often get parents ringing me up to ask me how to deal with anger in their children. From my experience, Anger Management problems generally exist in children between the ages of 13-20 years. Usually there has been an anger outburst (e.g., one sibling threatening the other sibling with a knife) and the parents want to do something about it. This article will detail how you can address anger in your children and give you practical strategies and resources to access.
So Where Does Your Children’s Anger Come From?
Some children are just naturally angry. In Psychology terms it is referred to as the temperament of the child. From a very early age they will show their temperament. If you have any easy going baby, then great! But for a lot of parents, your child will have a difficult temperament, which you will have to manage.
Even for these difficult baby’s, they aren’t naturally angry and something or someone is usually causing them to be angry. This anger response may start with anxiety. For example, there may be problems at school (e.g., Bullying) or in their friendships, personal relationships etc. Anger problems occur when they are unable to deal with the different issues that occur in their lives and move on from them.
For children, talking about these issues with their parents is a really good way of finding solutions to these problems. However, often children feel that they are unable to talk with parents about these issues. And often these issues go unresolved. This is where the problem arises. The child is not addressing the issue (i.e., their anger) at the time and moving on with their life. Eventually the issue snowballs into a much larger issue than it needed to be in the first place.
Ways That Children Deal With Their Anger
(1) Alcohol – One of the most common ways that adolescent children have of dealing with their anger is through binge drinking. I like to refer to it as being a negative coping strategy because it doesn’t address the problem. All it does is treat the symptoms (i.e., feeling angry, feeling anxious and generally feeling down)
(2) Drugs – Very prevalent in teenagers. Probably causes the most problems at home. Common drugs that teenage try is weed. A lot of parents do not know how to address this topic with their children. A good way to start is to show them the link between drug use (in developing brains) and psychosis (e.g., Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, Schizophrenia). A simple Google search will give you good research summaries that you can take to your children to discuss.
(3) Anti Social Behaviour – Sometimes children will start hanging out with “the wrong group of friends’. Often drug taking behaviour, binge drinking and ‘wagging school” behaviours will follow. Often these behaviours are done in direct reaction to authority and not really their own decision.
So What Can You Do?
The main thing that you need to do is to emphasise that all the decisions that your child is making is theirs. Sounds simple doesn’t it. What I find is that a lot of decisions that children make, when dealing with anger is not their own. Instead it is in reaction to other people. For example, parents, teachers, friends etc. They rebel in other words. They do the exact thing that they think everybody doesn’t want them to do.
In more practical terms, it is probably important that they go and speak with someone. For example, you may want to consult a psychologist or a tutor. To find a psychologist in your local area, please consult the Anger Management local website. The important thing is that they are able to talk with someone who they trust and who is able to keep a secret (what is said) and won’t gossip about their situation to anyone else. This is why talking with a psychologist is a very good idea.
It is also important for you to access materials on the web. Some good web-sites include:
(1) Beyond Blue
(2) Anger Management Forum
(3) American Psychological Association
The good news is that help in dealing with anger in your children is out there.