Differentiate Between Feelings and Behavior
Kids struggle to understand the difference between angry feelings and aggressive behavior. Teach your child to label his feelings, so he can verbalize feelings of anger, frustration, and disappointment.
Say, “It’s OK to feel angry but it’s not OK to hit.” Help him see that he’s in control of his actions when he feels angry.
Sometimes, aggressive behavior stems from a variety of uncomfortable feelings, like sadness or embarrassment. Talk about feelings often and over time, your child will learn to recognize his feelings better.
Model Appropriate Anger Management Skills
The best way to teach your child how to deal with anger is by showing him how you deal with your emotions when you feel angry. If your child watches you lose your temper, he’ll likely do the same. But, if he sees you cope with your feelings in a kinder, gentler way, he’ll pick up on that too.
Although it’s important to shield your child from many adult problems, it’s healthy to show him how you handle angry feelings. Point out times when you feel frustrated so your child understands that adults get mad sometimes too.
It’s OK to say, “I’m angry the car in front of us didn’t stop to let those kids cross the street.
But I’m going to stop so they can cross safely.” Verbalizing your feelings will teach your child to talk about his emotions too.
Take responsibility for your behavior when you lose your cool in front of your kids. Apologize and discuss what you should have done instead. Say, “I am sorry that you had to see me yelling today when I was mad. I should have gone for a walk to cool off when I was angry instead of raising my voice.”
Establish Anger Rules
Most families have unofficial family rules about what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to anger. Some families don’t mind doors being slammed and voices being raised while other families may have less tolerance for such behaviors.
Create written household rules that outline your expectations. Anger rules should center around behaving respectfully toward others.
Address areas such as physical aggression, name-calling, and destruction of property so that your child understands he can’t throw things, break things or lash out verbally or physically when he’s mad.