We are capable of feeling a spectrum of emotions that includes anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise. These emotions are natural for human beings but we express them in a multitude of ways.
Anger, although a normal human emotion, when not controlled can transform into something painful and ugly. First thoughts of anger issues may conjure up images of a couple fighting, a parent screaming at a child, a teenager lashing out at a teacher or a parent. Rarely will images of angry toddlers be the first thing that springs to mind. Unfortunately, children at very young ages do experience and have to tackle feelings of anger and possibly rage.
Expressing Anger Appropriately
Children who are dealing with anger issues may not actually realize they have a problem. By nature, a child has not developed the mental and emotional capability to process every situation and interaction effectively. Although children are constantly learning as they grow, they often lack the ability to understand their own feelings and experiences. When a child becomes upset or mad they simply show these emotions through their behavior. If a child is sad they may keep to themselves or have little to say. When a child feels guilty they may avoid people and retreat to their bedroom. An angry child may break their toys, scream or throw a tantrum.
Even when a child has developed the ability to talk, you may never learn from a conversation that they are burdened with feelings of pain and guilt. Children are not always verbal about their emotions and actions often speak louder than words. A good example of this might be the little girl in the supermarket who throws a tantrum because she’s upset. Most parents have had to deal with similar situations, yet the response taken can differ significantly between families. Some parents overreact with excessive chastising or discipline whereas others choose to dismiss and overlook the incident as being nothing more than a silly, childish moment. However, when children show signs of anger, bursting into fits or rage and rolling around the floor in tantrums, this could be indicative that there’s an underlying problem and that this child needs help. Left untreated, this problem could evolve into a mountain of difficulty in the future.
A child requires instruction and guidance from their ‘coming into the world’ to their entry into adulthood. A child needs to learn how to behave appropriately in different situations. They need to know that it is perfectly fine to be upset and even angry sometimes, but they must also understand that these emotions should not be used in a negative way.
Children must comprehend that although anger is natural and needs to be vented in an appropriate way, there is a clear difference between anger and aggression or violence. A firm, zero-tolerance approach with appropriate punishment should be targeted at any form of aggression and violence, whereas a child expressing anger in a controlled, reasonable manner should be handled very differently. In fact, learning to channel and modify anger in a more positive manner is the desired outcome of anger management.
The things a child learns in their early years are likely to form the person they become as an adult. For this reason, managing children with difficulties controlling their temper is extremely important. There exists a window of opportunity to break the pattern of behavior that may otherwise continue to grow throughout their teenage years, and to prevent that child becoming the next generation of an anger-dysfunctional adult.