Anger and Children – Communication
Encourage open and honest communication in the home environment within a framework based on respect and tolerance by all parties. However, the type of dialogue will obviously need to be tailored to the age of the child.
A vital component of communication skills that many people neglect is the ability to listen and not interrupt. Sure, children can babble and talk like a fountain but it pays to listen to what they have to say without interruption, especially when there is conflict. It reinforces their self-esteem because they feel that their opinion counts for something, and this in turn will help diffuse the situation. This teaches them the importance of courtesy, self-control and learning to listen to other people’s point of view.
Another aspect of good communication skills is to give praise where earned. Parents frequently get into the spiral of correcting their children and can forget to praise their child when they do something positive. Studies have shown that in some families the ratio of negative to positive comments can be as much as 9:1. Below the age of 8, children tend to be more protected from criticism but this increases as they approach and enter teenage years.
The drip, drip effect will produce a child with lower self-esteem who perceive themselves negatively – this carries the risk that they become what they feel is expected of them: a failure. Feeling a failure and the associated sense of hopelessness that comes with it will result in a variety of possible negative symptoms including anxiety, agitation, frustration, aggression, anger and rage.
However, there is a balance to be achieved, for shallow over-the-top praise will eventually be seen for what it is – insincere and meaningless. So in general, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, be fair and consistent when discipline is required, and praise sincerely when a child deserves it.
Anger and Children – Showing Interest and Hobbies
As M. Scott Peck noted in ‘The Road Less Traveled’: “love is as love does”. One important way of demonstrating the love you have for someone is through showing interest in their life.
Good patterns should be established from the very beginning and although attending parent’s evenings, school activities, dashing home from work to drive a child to a 15 minute violin lesson etc. may sometimes feel inconvenient to you, they are absolutely essential to building deep bonds of trust, loyalty and commitment in the eyes of your child.
Hobbies can become important focal points for a child; children will often take great pride in them and they contribute toward defining their identity and establishing self-esteem. Encourage your child to have hobbies and most importantly, show that you are interested in what they do.
With regard to the issue of friends, there is another reason why encouraging your child to have hobbies is so important. Not only will hobbies keep your child busy, happy and active but when their hobbies involve others e.g. chess club, football team, horse riding team etc. your child will tend to be associating with like-minded people and automatically build up a ‘pre-selected’ crowd of friends. This is not to say that every child at the club or in the team will be to your liking, but your child will still be occupied and active in a structured, adult supervised environment with rules of behavior and codes of conduct.
Showing interest in the groups of friends your child hangs out with is another important way you can demonstrate to the child that they really matter to you. Although one doesn’t want to necessarily micromanage the circle of friends they keep, being aware of the situation will alert you to whether they are becoming excluded or socializing with problematic individuals. This is especially important when they become teenagers.
Anger and Children – Activities and Exercise
Children by nature are full of energy and most just love to run around making lots of noise. Exercise not only vents excess energy but is vital for both a healthy mind and body. Therefore, from a young age, children should be encouraged to play in the backyard, garden or local park. Joining a local sports or activity club will open their world to a diverse range of physical pursuits that can be undertaken in a secure and safe manner with appropriate tuition. In many cases, planting the seed of exercise´at this stage of development will result in the child leading a far healthier and enriched existence for the rest of their life.
Physical exercise great way to dissipate stress and anger. Children can gain ‘indirect’ exercise through many forms of activity. They should be brought up to help at home from a young age, be it tidying their room, helping to clean or vacuum parts of the house, doing things around the garden, possibly taking the dog for a walk, washing the car – the list is endless.
More strenuous exercise can be highly beneficial for pre-teenagers health and general well-being. Sure, they may complain if they are not used to it, but there are many fun ways to achieve this even if they don’t want to join a gym. For example, a heavy punch bag in a garage can be a great way to unwind and burn energy. It can be punched, kicked and is used for various sports whilst providing a great aerobic benefit. However, some psychologists believe such practices are a negative means of venting anger and aggression. Although many disagree with their view, one thing is sure: you can be guaranteed that 20 minutes of exercise will leave the child less stressed, healthier and able to have a good night’s sleep!
For all of us, there is a time to be quiet and a time to be noisy. Children take years to learn this, so keeping them active in the process is a good idea. Although television, Internet and video games have their place in today’s world, for the sake of the child and their health, such forms of entertainment should be limited. Children at a young age need to be encouraged to adopt positive patterns of behavior, and being active is one of those elements.
Rather than allowing a child to sit in front of the television or play video games for hours on end, maybe get them to draw, paint, use a coloring book, read, practice a musical instrument, play board games, have a game of football, go fishing or help out baking something with you in the kitchen. Limiting excessive use of television and video games, particularly if they are violent or aggressive in nature, is strongly encouraged.