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Redirecting Anger to Safe Objects for Children

by Kathryn Hatter

Anger is a potent emotion. Left unchecked, it can lead to mistakes in actions and conduct. Because anger is a natural response, it’s imperative that people learn to manage it effectively, according to GreatSchools, a parent education website. One technique for anger management involves redirecting the anger to a safe object to express it without hurting others.

Keep Calm

When your child displays mounting anger, maintain your composure, according to Scholastic.com. If you respond with your own anger and aggression, your child’s emotions might become even more out of control. Reacting emotionally to your child’s anger also sets the wrong example for your child. Watch the tone and level of your voice carefully as you interact with your angry child and make a concerted effort to keep your voice even and calm. Sometimes just speaking calmly to someone who feels upset can help restore composure.

Use Empathy

As you speak with your child, employ empathy to help the child feel understood, according to an article on the Focus on the Family website. Toddlers and preschoolers will benefit from a parent identifying negative feelings to help them learn. You might say, “Oh! I hear that you feel very mad right now! You don’t want to go inside to eat!” For older children, your empathy might sound like: “You sound very angry and frustrated about this. I understand how frustrating it can be when things don’t go according to plan.” If you’re not sure what’s motivating the anger, ask questions instead of guessing to avoid frustrating your child more.

Establish Limits

Quickly establish limits and boundaries so your child understands what is acceptable and unacceptable about angry feelings, according to a web page on the University of Utah website. While anger is natural, lashing out aggressively is not acceptable. Tell your child you understand that she feels frustrated or angry, but that you will not allow her to hurt others or act destructively. If the child’s anger is directed at a specific person or circumstance, you might need to remove her temporarily to help her calm down. Often just a change of scenery can foster a calming reaction.

Provide Alternatives

Give your child acceptable alternatives for redirecting and expressing his anger. Jumping up and down, doing jumping jacks, running around the yard, banging on a drum, pounding modeling clay into shape or even drawing a picture to express thoughts or emotions can be appropriate and effective methods for anger management, according to Focus on the Family. Once the child expresses the emotions and cools off, reconnect with the child by engaging in a positive activity such as snuggling on the couch or reading a book.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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