Some of the most peaceful, loving well-intentioned parents end up with children who appear to be extremely angry. Some of these children become violent, uncontrollable, and cannot be maintained in the home during their teenage years.
There are a variety of reasons that could cause such an escalation in anger. The purpose of this article is to dispel a critical myth, and to make certain that parents become aware of the patterns of their own behavior, which can increase and escalate anger.
Caution: Venting anger…
increases anger and aggression.
Over the years, the research has developed one indisputable conclusion. To encourage children or adults to vent their anger with aggression…as a solution to their anger is unhealthy.
I just reviewed a study completed at Ohio State University, in which this finding was reiterated once again. When encouraged to express anger and to vent feelings of anger, children and adults may find temporary relief, but the overall effect is an increase in anger.
What’s the implication for parenting?
There are two critical points which I want to emphasize here. The first is the need to…
1. Be cognizant of a pattern of anger.
It is important for parents to recognize the difference between an angry outburst and a pattern of anger.
An outburst is an incident that appears situational and rapidly dissipates. This would be a typical child reaction, regardless of the age of a child. This does not constitute a pattern of anger.
However, if you have a son or a daughter that is easily angered, then it is time to be concerned. If your son or daughter is easily provoked to outbursts of anger, then you must first recognize that you are dealing with a pattern of behavior.
Secondly, in the event that you have a pattern of anger, then it is likely that (but not always)….
2. Angry outbursts tend to repeatedly pull parents into the anger.
The first distinction here is that you want to become aware of whether or not a pattern exists. If there is a pattern of anger and the unhealthy expression of anger, then you must be cautious not to engage the anger.
What do I mean by this?
If you find yourself attempting to calm your child, soothe them, or help them to get through their anger, on a consistent and repeated basis, then you likely have a problem. The problem is that your engagement of that behavior, serves to promote the expression of the anger.
Let me say it more simply: The repeated attention you give to the moments of anger actually serve to promote and encourage the anger.
Over time, the anger will simply escalate, despite the fact that your assistance may ultimately calm each individual situation – for a while. In other words, by assisting your child in calming down, they may be able to do so. Early on, it may only take five minutes. A year or two later, it takes fifteen minutes. Within another year or two, the outbursts can go on for half an hour to an hour. During this time, the child’s behavior can escalate into more aggressive and threatening actions.
Notice what’s happening here: Your child should be learning to handle their emotions, but instead they are learning to be more and more dependent upon you to handle their emotions. This is a formula for failure.
What are you to do?
1. Don’t worry if there is no pattern of anger.
If your child occasionally expresses anger, and is able to work through this in a reasonable fashion, then please don’t be alarmed. This is normal and typical.
In such situations, I encourage you to do whatever you feel is helpful to assist your child to understand their situation and resolve this anger.
2. If a pattern of anger exists, disengage. Walk away NOW!
From the moment that you notice that your child is unusual in the level of aggression or anger that they express, and that this pattern has pulled you into their upsets, then it is time to wake up.
You may need to seek professional assistance, either through coaching with a parenting expert or through mental health counseling. Either way, you cannot continue to engage these angry outbursts and expect your son or daughter to become more capable of handling these emotions themselves.
The moment you begin to make certain that your actions communicate to your child “You can handle your emotions,” then your son or daughter will respond. Will it happen today? NO. But change begins to unfold in a matters of a few short weeks!
How do you best do this? You do this by letting them know that you will not assist them in handling their upsets. You will not talk them down or through it. If their aggressive behavior becomes unmanageable, then you need to learn how to manage the home environment through the use of effective consequences. I strongly encourage you to consider my program, The Angry Child, as a powerful set of parenting tools that can free your child. You will learn exactly what to do when, and you want be inundated with lose theory or simple slogans designed to make you feel better about your child’s unhealthy behavior.
In The Angry Child program, I explain how to make sure that…
3. Children learn that anger is acceptable, but aggression and using anger to control others is not healthy.
How do kids learn this? They learn this by experiences that allow them to come to grips with the consequences of their choices. If the consequence to getting angry is that Mom and Dad come running and help me solve my problem, I’m never going to get it.
If on the other hand: If the consequence to my aggression is something that impacts my life right now…, I can start to get it.
These are the key secrets that make your parenting approach powerful.
As a reminder, these comments are not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional help. If you have a child who is frequently angry and volatile, do not delay seeking help. Unless the patterns of behavior in the home are changed, this will likely not get better.
You can get a life-changing start by reading the materials on this website. However, you may need more. It is important to have a clear, specific program to get you on track. If anger is robbing your family of joy…if aggression stomps out your peace…if outbursts threaten to leave you homebound, then consider The Angry Child program. This is a highly focused program, where I walk you through the specific changes you need to make today in order to change things at hom.
Can you guarantee your kids will get it? Yes and no.
In part, it depends upon how much you get it. Are you really impeccable in being a model of peace and calm? This is extremely important.
Are you impeccable in your follow-through with the program? I won’t know that, but that piece is up to you.
Do you tend to be reactive? If so, then that reactive tendency can undermine everything else you’re doing?
Finally, how long has this been going on? How many times has the unhealthy pattern been a part of your home? Older kids, who have been angry for years, may be less influenced by the changes you make at home. That’s reality.
Younger kids are more affected by changes in the environment. Start as soon as possible, so you can give your child the best chance possible to learn effective ways of handling his/her anger.
If you want help NOW with an angry child, consider The Angry Child program. You can download the file now, or order the CD.