No one likes an angry child. But what should really do when our child is always angry? Learn more about kids and anger here.
What can you read in this article?
- Why is my 4-year-old so angry and aggressive?
- Wrong ways to respond to an angry child
- How to deal with a child who is always angry
As parents, we try to do our best to raise our kids to be warm, kindhearted individuals. And we feel like on top of the world when they shower us with kisses and reciprocate the love and affection that we’re giving them. When they’re very little children, we feel so in sync with them, like we know everything that’s going on in their minds.
But somewhere along the way, it feels like things get lost in translation. From a sweet little child, they turn into someone who is always grumpy and complaining, someone we can’t seem to connect with.
“Why is my daughter angry all the time?”
When kids express anger, many parents don’t know what to do. Plenty of parents discourages their kids from expressing anger by punishing them for expressing their feelings.
But what we have to understand is that there is nothing wrong with anger in itself. Getting angry is normal—everyone gets angry. It’s a valid emotion that, when handled correctly, can actually be productive.
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Why is my child angry all the time?
When our child expresses anger, we worry about how they can pose a serious risk to themselves and others. When kids lose control, they can become aggressive and direct their anger towards their caregiver, or people around them.
They start throwing dangerous objects, hit or bite if they are toddlers, and if they are older kids, they can say something mean that can hurt others’ feelings.
We are also worried about self-harm for teenagers. It can be a scary and stressful experience for you and your child. But before you worry about how your kid’s anger affects you and other people, you must first learn to address the root of the problem.
Why is your child doing this?
According to the Childmind Institute website, it is helpful to first understand that behavior has to do with communication. A child who is so overwhelmed that they are lashing out is a distressed child.
Usually, and this is especially true among toddlers, they don’t have the skill to manage their feelings and express them in a more mature way. They may lack language, impulse control, or problem-solving abilities.
That may simply be the answer to the question, “Why is my 4-year-old so angry and aggressive?”
Moreover, aggressive tendencies are shaped by environmental conditions — the pressures, threats, opportunities, and consequences that a child can experience.
Peers, teachers, neighborhoods, media messages, and cultural factors can also play a role in triggering aggressive behavior. If your child rages only at home, maybe there is something wrong at school that is causing his distress that he’s not telling you about.
Sometimes we also wonder where our child gets the pushing or the whining, only to be surprised that he is exposed to it on TV, or sometimes, even from us, the way we talk to other people.
Some studies suggest that children are also more likely to develop aggressive behavior if they are exposed to early life stress.
Those are some of the common reasons why a child is always angry. But if you notice that your child has a pattern of lashing out, it may be because of an underlying problem that needs treatment. Some possible reasons for aggressive behavior include:
- Anxiety: An anxious child may keep their worries secret, then suddenly lash out when they can’t handle the pressure or demands at school or at home. Often, a child who seems to “keep it together” at school may “lose it” at home to one or both parents.
- Undiagnosed learning disability: When your child acts out repeatedly in school or when it’s homework time, it could be because the work is very harder for them than it usually is for their peers.
- Sensory processing issues: Some children may have difficulty processing the information they are taking in through their senses. Things like too much noise, crowds and even “scratchy” clothes can make them anxious, uncomfortable, or overwhelmed, which can lead to actions that leave you mystified, including aggression.
- Autism: Children on all points of the spectrum are usually more prone to major meltdowns when they are frustrated or faced with a change they did not expect.
Kids and anger – how to deal with a child who is always angry
Now that you know the possible reasons why your child is always in a bad mood, you can consider how you can respond to your child’s anger better and with more patience and understanding.
Here are some expert-backed tips that can help your kid understand and manage his anger.
1. Don’t fight fire with fire
When your child starts acting out in anger, it is your role to de-escalate the situation. Child experts Little Big Feelings on Instagram said, “An escalated adult cannot de-escalate an escalated child.”
Moreover, when your child fails to comply with your request, it’s easy to feel disrespected. But resist the urge to make it personal and feel that your child is doing it to make you feel bad. Remember, it’s not about you. Focus on what your child is feeling instead.
Although it’s easier to respond to anger with more anger, doing so will only make it worse. You should remain calm and talk to them in an even tone. Doing so will help your kids calm down, making it easier for you to reason with them.
2. Instead of time-outs, try “time-ins”
Sending your child away to calm down by himself will only make him feel more alone and helpless with his negative emotions. Instead, stay with him and ask him to explain what’s making her so angry. This not only helps you understand the situation but also allows them to process the anger and calm down.
Dr. Becky Kennedy, a clinical psychologist and parent coach advises parents to tell their child, “I’m not scared of your feelings. I’m not leaving you alone when you feel this way. I love you.”
Your child might not want to open up to you, however. In that case, letting her “talk” to a plush toy, a pet, or an imaginary friend might help.
3. Be a good example
Your kids look to you as a model for their behavior, and if you find yourself yelling at your kids, you shouldn’t be surprised when you see them losing their tempers as well.
You can’t expect your kids to handle their anger properly if you can’t do so yourself. Learn how to regulate your anger, then you can teach them to do so as well.
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Mom Guilt: “Because of tiredness, I vent my anger on to my kids.”
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4. Refrain from labeling him as a “bad kid”
Being angry and having big feelings does not make one a bad kid. Just like feeling tired and angry at your kids sometimes does not make you a bad mom.
So resist the urge to label your child as a “bad kid,” “masungit,” “bugnutin,” or “pasaway,” as it usually does more harm than good. Instead, just simply remind your child that he’s a good kid who’s having a hard time.
5. Be a source of comfort and affection
Your child might be acting out because he feels misunderstood and neglected. Sometimes, reaching out to them with a simple hug or pat on the back does wonders.
Let them know that you care with a hug and with reassuring words after you talk things out. Even better, Dr. Becky advises telling your child, “Nothing you do can ever make me stop loving you. Nothing.”
6. Teach him skills to cope and respond to anger in a non-destructive way
As mentioned earlier, it’s okay to feel angry. Children, and even adults, are allowed to feel upset and express their emotions. But you have to make sure that when you do, you’re not hurting others, and most especially, you’re not hurting yourself. This is why self-regulation or the ability to control one’s temper is a very important skill to teach kids.
Tell your child, “It’s okay to be angry. But it’s not okay to hurt others or yourself.” Instead, you can teach him a few ways to release that anger in a non-destructive, non-aggressive way.
There are different ways to teach self-regulation. One of them is mindfulness. You can teach your child to count to ten or until the anger dissipates from his body, or take deep breaths until he feels calm. He can even channel his emotions in music or art.
7. Reward good behavior
Studies suggest that children are more likely to learn desirable social skills when they are provided with positive feedback for making good choices instead of threats and punishments for doing the wrong thing.
So when you notice your child dealing with his anger in a positive way, praise him. This will encourage him to do the same thing in the future.
So while it’s very tempting to respond to an angry child with hostility and make it all about your feelings, remember that at the end of the day, how your kid manages and responds to his anger depends on you. Focus on keeping communication lines open and maintaining a positive relationship with your child.
Updates by Camille Eusebio
Aha! Parenting, Parents.com, Childmind.org, Parenting Science