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As parents, we have many jobs. However, perhaps the most important of these jobs is equipping our children with an emotional skill set to help them cope with their emotions and their anger.

A lot of parents have been led to believe that when their child yells, screams, throws things, or pitches tantrums that their behaviors should be punished through spanking or other means of punishment. And that very well may stop the behavior at the moment. But, if you are looking to help your child cope with their anger in the long term, you are going to need to do more than that.

When it comes down to it, anger is a behavior caused by complicated emotions that are overwhelming to your child. I have met grown adults who could barely tolerate their own emotions and anger, so it seems silly to me that we expect two and three-year-olds to be able to handle their emotions effectively without a little help.

Yes, you can choose to punish, but why not do one better and guide your child through dealing with and coping with their intense emotions? By doing this, you are not only helping them at the moment but also, you are helping them throughout their lives.

It might be tempting to yell at your child to stop acting out, to stop acting overtly angry. But, when you do this, you are combatting anger with anger, which really doesn’t teach much to your child except that they better respect you because you are bigger.

The next time your child is angry and acting up, try to meet them where they are. Let them vent their frustration and if their behavior is bad enough, say, “Listen, I understand you are upset, but this is not going to help you feel better. Would you like me to show you how to feel better?” Or, you can completely redirect them, while allowing them a moment to calm down. Stop any and all over-the-top or potentially dangerous behaviors and then once they are calm, talk to them about their emotions.

More often than not, anger is an expression of a need, whether it be sleep, hunger, attention, and so on and so forth. Because they are so young, they are underdeveloped, so they do not know or understand how to handle or express their needs. When they express anger, they are begging you for help.

Above all, any and all expressions of emotion through anger are the perfect moments to teach your child. Use these opportunities to give your child the skill set they need to flourish in life, and they will thank you for it.