Steps to tame your little shrew!
Is your usually adorable toddler prone to angry outbursts? Does the little shrew spew violent threats during moments of intense anger? He might need a hand to deal with this strong emotion. While it’s distressing to deal with him during this time, you play an important role in these moments. Remember that children are prone to angry outbursts and tantrums. It’s a normal developmental milestone to weather through.
Take note that anger and aggression do not have to be dirty words. Often, we grew up believing that being angry is bad and we feel guilty expressing anger. Frustration, anger, sadness, fear, happiness and love are emotions. According to the discrete theory of emotions, all emotions have a purpose. It is natural for children to express them. You might need to help your child figure out the root of her anger.
Show your child that you accept his feelings but direct him to express his feelings appropriately.
Here are some suggestions:
#1. Teach her ways of coping with frustrations
Tell her that everyone feels angry some days. Relate about the last time you felt angry and how you dealt with that anger in a positive way. Read books about children getting angry and discuss how they cope. Good books include When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Mande Spelman; I Was So Mad by Norma Simon and When Sophie Gets Angry by Molly Bang. Copies are available in the local NLB libraries.
#2. Explain the limits of her behaviour
Since he is already able to express his anger in words, you may like to encourage him to express what he does not like about the frustrating situation when he is calm. For example, he may tell you that, “I don’t like to share my toys with him. He always destroys them.” Set rules such as “no shouting!”/ “no throwing things!” This can curb negative behaviours.
#3. Stay calm and assuring
When he bursts out in anger, calm him with your physical proximity, hold her gently, make eye contact and use a quiet, warm voice to assure him that it is safe for him to show you how he feels. You may also say 'I know you don’t feel good inside, but I love you.' He need not verbalise his feelings in return now as he struggles with his anger. However, when he calms down, he will feel more secure.
#4. Provide physical outlets and other alternatives.
Create opportunities for your child to have regular physical exercise and movement. However, the effectiveness of this method varies from child to child. Some children may be more active than others, so you may want to check out our guide to children's temperament to determine how inclined your child is towards physical activities.
#5. Highlight The Good Times
Praise him for the times that he controlled his angry outbursts or for properly verbalizing his feelings without using threats. You want to focus on his positive behaviours, so he can learn the desirability of these behaviours and exhibit them at higher frequency. A rule of thumb: always focus on the good sides and never the bad sides.
The above steps might not be easy to execute in those heady moments, but they can prove to be useful and a means to create meaningful interaction with your child. Most importantly, assure your child that he has your love. It can also be helpful to consider your own way of dealing with your emotions. Remember that sometimes, your child might react in a certain way because it was modelled to him previously. Do you scream angrily? You might need to reflect on dealing with your own emotions. Also, consider how your own parents dealt with anger. Has it impacted you?
You might also like to consider if your child’s anger is more than typical. If his behaviour is dangerous to himself or others during these outbursts or his tantrums are causing problems in your house, you might need to consider any underlying issues for his distressful symptoms.
KidzMatters is an online resource on all matters regarding parents and infants to 6-year-olds. Subscribe to KidzMatters for more news, tips, updates and activities!
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