Has your child been showing anger since your split?
After divorce, it is quite common for children to act out. It is not surprising this happens because, after all, divorce brings challenges that every family member has to go through.
Your child may not be able to understand why their parents’ separation is happening, and their confusion and frustration can manifest into behavioral changes. These changes can range from mild troublemaking to full-on destruction. Children will display signs of anger when they do not have the coping skills to process their emotions or the best strategy to self-soothe.
While you cannot control the emotions they feel about your divorce, there are ways you can help your child manage their anger.
Here Are 7 Ways To Help Your Child Alleviate Anger So It Doesn’t Affect Their Adult Relationships Later In Life:
1. Model Calmness
It is important to model calmness during a moment of anger because it is contagious. Children learn by watching their parents. When you show your child that you can be calm even while angry, they will learn how to cool down when life gets challenging.
As tempting as it is to get out your frustration by yelling, this will only make the situation worse, as it teaches your child to fire back when they are angry. Teaching your child ways to calm down, and practicing these techniques yourself, is an important way you can ensure better relationships and overall well-being for your child.
A few calming techniques are mediation, deep breathing, listening to music, journaling, and working out.
2. Validate Feelings
Validating your child’s feelings makes them feel understood. This means putting ego and desire to lecture aside for the time being. Rather than judging their reaction, you are simply acknowledging your child’s feelings. You can do this by changing how you respond to their anger. For example, instead of telling your child you are upset with them, try:
It seems you are feeling really upset. I want to hear more about this. Can you share with me what is making you mad?
This will show your child that you are loving, empathetic, and patient, even when they are acting out. Processing their emotions is overall beneficial to their mental health and emotional state management.
3.Teach Them To “Pause”
This is a great strategy to teach your child how to handle challenges more effectively. Children often lack the emotional maturity to put their anger into words, which results in impulsive behavior. They will scream, kick, and hit without thinking through the consequences. Learning to pause can help them understand what they are feeling so they can reflect on what they need to feel better.
You can use the PAUSE strategy when your child is overwhelmed by their emotions and unable to make a rational decision. Once you have taught your child how to pause, you can incorporate it into their daily life. For example,
I can see you are getting upset because your math homework is really hard. Let’s PAUSE and take a deep breath. Are you ready to make a good choice, or should we wait until you are feeling better?
4. Help Identify Warning Signs
Your child may not be able to tell you they are angry until it is too late. They will not be able to use any coping strategies because they do not know what they are feeling until they have already yelled or hit someone. You can combat this by helping your child identify warning signs of anger. This includes body temperature, making fists, throwing things, even screaming. If you notice their frustration heightening, ask them to identify the feeling they are experiencing.
Once your child becomes familiar with their own warning signs, they will be able to curb their anger before it becomes an intense outburst. This can also help them connect to their emotions so they can tell you what they need.
5. Create Safety
It is common practice for parents to give their children a time-out when they are acting out. However, this can lead to feeling unwanted or unloved because they are struggling to express what is going on inside. Instead of sending your child to their room when they are angry, ask them to spend “time in” rather than “time out,” which will help them tune into their emotions and talk about it.
When your child feels misunderstood, they are more likely to engage in defiant behavior. You can help them articulate their emotions by creating a safe space in your home that welcomes honestly expressing feelings.
6. Teach Deep Breathing
Taking deep breaths is a widely accepted way to calm down to prevent an emotional outburst. However, telling your child to take a deep breath during a meltdown is unlikely to work. The solution is to teach them effective breathing strategies to practice when they are calm, so they can implement these strategies themselves when they are feeling angry.
Teach your child deep belly breathing to help them self-soothe their emotional state. By giving them an action to perform, you are helping them listen to their body when boiling inside to help release emotional pain.
7. Avoid Violent Media
Children are an extremely impressionable group. They learn from what they see and hear in their environments. Alleviating anger starts with avoiding violent video games or TV shows. This style of media models the very behavior that you are trying to de-escalate. You can avoid violent media by:
Screening it beforehand
Consulting with other parents
Rejecting peer pressure
Research has shown that violent media may be a risk factor for later behavioral problems in children. By limiting the amount of violence your child is exposed to, you can help model more positive behaviors for them to learn.