By Marli Naidoo
It’s not unusual for a toddler younger than four years old to have up to nine anger outbursts per week. This is accompanied by episodes of kicking, screaming, stamping feet, crying and hitting that can last for five to ten minutes. Most children will have outgrown this conduct by the time they reach the age of five or six. If, however, your child has not outgrown it, and the outbursts start causing problems at home or at school, you will have to seek professional help.
All of us sometimes handle anger in unhealthy ways. If your child’s outbursts however start to break down relationships with his friends or family members, it could influence his future social health.
If your daily activities are interrupted by your child’s anger, everyone walks on tiptoe when he is in the room, or you have to cancel excursions because an outburst is simmering under the surface, the situation is not healthy. Your child might possibly be using aggression as the only solution to everything. Aggression should be the last way out.
As children become more mature, they should be able to handle their frustrating activities better. If your child crumples up his homework when he has made a mistake, or throws his blocks against the wall when his building won’t stand, he might possibly need help to learn to handle frustration.
Fortunately help is available. Talk to your paediatrician if you suspect that your child’s outbursts are not suitable for his age.
Cognitive behaviour therapy can give your child new strategies to regulate his emotions and negative thoughts. He will also learn to express his anger in healthier ways. Anger is a normal emotion. However, it is important for your child to learn that there are boundaries to how he expresses himself.
Another effective method with which to minimise outbursts, is to not punish the child, but rather reward him for handling his emotions better. The reward comes in the shape of positive family interactions. These times together become something your child will look forward to so much that he would like to obtain better control over his emotions. He will also feel that you are supporting him.
It’s not easy for your child to live with emotional intensity. He does not want to struggle to control his anger. To hope that it will improve by itself, is not a solution. Give your child the support he needs by getting the necessary help.
Yale Medicine: https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/anger-issues-in-children-and-teens/
Very well Family: https://www.verywellfamily.com/signs-youre-raising-an-angry-child-1094926
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/family-secrets/201201/childs-anger-can-be-warning