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When it comes to raising children, it can be difficult for both the parent and the child when a child is dealing with anger. Even worse, if the wrong tactic is used to alleviate your child’s anger, it may only make it worse.

In many cases, when our child becomes angry or upset, we view this as a behavioral issue, when in reality, anger is a means to express how they are feeling. You see, small children don’t yet understand their needs, and they aren’t self-aware enough to say, “Hey I didn’t get much rest last night, so I am not feeling my best.” Instead, they tend to show us they don’t feel well by lashing out.

While it may be your first instinct to punish your child for their anger outburst, another far more likely to work tactic for helping alleviate anger outbursts moving forward is to teach your child how to manage their emotions. Not only will it benefit you, because it will mean that they are more able to express how they feel, but it will help them to thrive and flourish in their lives moving forward.

1. Don’t give into them.

At the moment, when your child is yelling, screaming, and throwing things all over the place, it will feel tempting to just give your child what they want. However, when you do this, you are enforcing bad behavior, which is only telling them that lashing out in anger will work for them.

2. Teach them healthy coping skills.

Find better-coping skills to teach them, so that they know better. Examples of this are breathing exercises, redirecting them towards something that is calming sensory-wise, and taking time out to regroup. There are plenty of different tools you can use, so get creative.

3. Be consistent.

Whatever you decide to do, be consistent about it. If you are constantly changing how you approach your child or changing the consequences or your child’s limits, they aren’t going to be able to learn from their mistakes.

4. Listen.

When your child is acting up, give them a moment to calm down and then sit down and talk to them. Hear them out and truly listen to them. Don’t talk over them or make them feel bad or punish them – just listen. A lot of times, your child isn’t angry, they simply need something. (Food, sleep, and attention is the primary things that they will get upset about.)

5. Encourage them to use their words.

When they are kicking or yelling or screaming, redirect their focus and get them to use their words. “I know you are upset, and I want to understand why. Use your words.” Or “Can you tell me how you feel?”

6. Use life as a teaching tool.

Use real-life moments as teaching tools. For example, if a little girl at the park is upset and crying, say, “Do you see that little girl? She is upset because she fell.” Or, “Your brother is crying because he is tired and needs rest.” Using real-life moments and giving emotional causes/words will help your little one to better understand their emotional state.