Appropriate Responses to Anger
When your chid becomes angry, she may choose to scream at another person, throw something across the room, cause physical damage to the area or hurt someone. None of these are appropriate responses to her anger. If your child exhibits any of these behaviors, the cool-down period can do double duty as a time-out for inappropriate behavior as well. When you talk to your child about her response to the anger she felt, be sure to differentiate between the anger she felt (acceptable) and the behavior she exhibited (unacceptable).
Help your child identify a more appropriate response to a feeling of anger. If your child lashed out physically, he probably needs an appropriate physical response to anger. Alternately, if he had a verbal reaction the first time then he needs an acceptable way to deal with his anger verbally.
Here are some examples of unacceptable physical responses to anger and the acceptable behaviors to replace them:
- Hitting a person (no); clenching fists and taking a deep breath (yes)
- Throwing an object (no); crumpling up a piece of scrap paper (yes)
- Temper tantrum full of kicking, screaming, destruction (no); moving around the room and quickly picking up toys, laundry and trash (yes)
For a verbal response to anger, your child may need several options. If your child lashes out at another person, teach her to use appropriate language to express herself. The University of Minnesota Extension web site suggests: "Teach a child how to express anger with words. Talking is a good way to get rid of feelings of anger and frustration." For instance, instead of telling another child she hates him, she should learn to say - calmly and quietly - that she is angry because of the behavior of another child. Instead of screaming, she can count to 10 in her head.
In some cases, your child may express his anger through the use of inappropriate language. Instead of using foul language, he can come up with a silly word to replace it (such as "balderdash" or "barnacles"). Not only will this keep him out of trouble, it will also infuse some humor into a situation, which can help diffuse your child's anger in the first place.