Tuesday Newsday – Kids Coping with Anger

March 8th, 2011

Let me get one thing out there. My daughter has never hit me. Oh, her eyes have blazoned with a sheer hatred that I didn’t think a preschooler could muster. But she’s never actually struck me. She’s always been very good at using her words…and stomping…she’s very good at stomping…arms folded. Don’t forget the arms folded.

Think about it. If you were told “no” as many times as your child is, you would be pissed off too. I’ve always said that an adult couldn’t handle the stress of being a kid. Imagine if all of a sudden one of your coworkers fell to the conference room floor, kicking her legs and screaming that she wants another cup of coffee nooooooowwwww! Or what if your neighbor just took your lawn mower right out of your hand and said that he wanted to use it ?

Being a kid is stressful and sometimes I can see how that stress could turn to anger. So here’s a great piece on how to teach your kids (from infancy all the way up to grade school) to cope with anger. There might even be a few adults who could use some of these techniques.

When my eldest daughter, Olivia, neared 2, she started hitting me. All sorts of injustices could elicit a serious whack from my formerly angelic child — announcing it was bathtime, say, or my wearing the wrong shade of lipstick. Being an enlightened mother, I checked my impulse to swat back; instead, I said, “We don’t hit people” and told her to use her words.

Eventually, the smacking ceased, but the emphasis on words backfired. Olivia would creep up on me, and in a subdued voice she’d confess: “Mommy, I want to hit you.”

The way kids express anger evolves much as they do, from uncivilized to articulate. And although it’s one of the most unsettling emotions a parent can deal with, childhood wrath is as natural (and useful) an emotion as love. “Anger can serve an important function — it’s energizing. When we’re mad about something, it can help us solve a problem. It’s the same for kids,” says John Lochman, Ph.D., professor of clinical psychology at the University of Alabama and a specialist in youth aggression. Read more…

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