Everyone experiences anger. Regardless of age, anger is a normal reaction to frustration, stress or disappointment. As boys grow up, they face increasingly difficult situations and begin to deal with some of the challenges of daily life, but they also learn to express and manage their anger in more effective ways.
Anger isn’t always a bad thing; some anger can be helpful. For example, when expressed appropriately, anger can help a boy to tell someone, “Stop. I don’t like that.” Anger can also motivate a boy to overcome problems and achieve goals.
However, some boys lack the skills to regulate their emotions which can eventually lead to aggressive behaviour. Some children struggle to learn to manage anger often exacerbated by hormones or actions of parents. Parents and carers therefore play an important role in teaching boys how to manage anger effectively. Here are three practical tips on how to temper children’s anger.
1. Calm him down
Perhaps your son has a temper because he doesn’t know how to express his anger appropriately. When this happens, here are a few ways you can calm him down:
- Ask him to count down from 10. This gives your son some time to calm down a little before making a bad choice.
- Ask for a hug. When a boy is angry, there is some level of underlying sadness. A hug can calm the anger and release his emotions.
- Engage in a quiet activity. Instead of trying to discipline your son in a heated moment, let him do a quiet activity, such as a puzzle. This lets him cool off before you approach him some time later to discuss what happened.
- Pay attention to your reactions. Stay calm and don’t trigger your child even more. By staying calm, you are showing him how to handle anger.
- Encourage him to squeeze something. Whether it’s a stuffed toy or a stress ball, squeezing somethings help to release a little of the pent-up fuel.
2. Help him recognise his feelings and emotions
- Ask what’s wrong. This is important if it’s not clear why your son is upset. Even if it is clear, it can be useful for children to articulate their feelings in their own words. Expressing feelings can help to process emotions and develop emotional awareness.
- Validate his emotions. Your son needs to know that you understand how upset he is and why. Don’t be too quick to dismiss his emotions or tell him to calm down. Instead, open the door for a conversation by saying: “You must be so mad to speak to me that way. Tell me more about this.”
- Explain your decisions. When you set a boundary or prevent your son from doing something, it’s good to explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. This models good decision-making and creates a more respectful environment. Involving children in the decision-making process is a good way to introduce them to personal responsibility and clear thinking.
3. Recognise what makes your son angry and counter it
Children can get angry because they feel tired, hurt or that their boundaries have been invaded. Feeling anxious or frustrated because they’re not getting what they want can also make a child angry.
If you notice that your son has trouble taming his temper, these four strategies can provide some anger management skills:
- Differentiate between feelings and behaviour. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion but many kids struggle to understand the difference between angry feelings and aggressive behaviour. Teach your child to label his feelings, so he can verbalise feelings of anger, but teach him that it’s not alright to hit or to yell.
- Model appropriate anger management skills. The best way to teach your child how to deal with anger is to show him how you deal with your anger. He will pick up on whether you cope with emotions in a calm way.
- Establish anger rules. Most families have unofficial family rules about what behaviour is acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to anger. Some families don’t mind doors being slammed and voices raised while other families have less tolerance for such behaviour. Create household rules that outline these expectations.
- Teach healthy coping skills. Using ‘time out’ can be an effective tool to calm your child down. You can teach children to put themselves in time out, this can be a good way to avoid getting into trouble. Teaching problem-solving skills can also help children to regulate their emotions without resorting to aggression. Talk about ways to resolve conflict peacefully.
Managing anger is an ongoing process. Remember that tantrums are nature’s way of helping young children let off steam. Their brains are developing and don’t yet have the neural pathways to control themselves as adults to. The best way to help children develop this is to offer empathy even while they’re angry.
Always remember to partner these tips with prayer. Encourage your son to turn to God in prayer and thanksgiving whenever he is angry, sad or when everything is going well! The calming power of prayer is undeniable. By giving your problems and worries to God, your son can move on from whatever is causing his anger, and he can rest in the knowledge that his problems are in God’s hands.
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ Philippians 4:6.
We are committed to the health and wellbeing of every student. Trinity’s Pastoral Care guidelines focus on the fundamentals of good parenting — providing both care and discipline — enabling boys to grow into self-confident, trustworthy and resilient young men. Combined with an ongoing partnership between the School and home, your son will thrive in a consistent, caring and nurturing environment.
For over a hundred years Trinity Grammar School has educated boys in mind, body and spirit. Our mission is to provide a thoroughly Christian education for boys from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12, imparting knowledge and understanding of the world we live in, and recognising the importance of spiritual qualities in every sphere of learning. Fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, we aim to know, understand and nurture each boy to help him realise his potential, passion and purpose in life.
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