Learn some of the most effective anger management techniques for children and ways to help prevent aggressive behavior. Dealing with anger is not a fun task, especially when you have to feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells as a result. So, the best place to start, is with prevention of child aggression as much as possible within reason. This involves identifying common triggers and learning to avoid non-verbal behaviors that can often lead to agitation, then gradually exposing them to these triggers and finding alternative ways to achieve the same result.
Next, you will want to determine what situations can escalate or trigger the behavior and how to respond during these situations. Helping kids to identify what their personal triggers are is extremely important. If they can recognize things that cause them to become angry and use the techniques prior to having an outburst, it will make it much easier to apply. Helping them learn to communicate when they are upset as well as practicing coping skills is a great place to start.
These techniques are great to use with all children, but especially for children with developmental disabilities, signs of ADHD or ODD as well. A modified version of the anger management techniques can also be used for children with autism symptoms that have limited verbal behavior by simply encouraging quiet activities with calming music and then playing the music as soon as the child becomes upset, frustrated or aggressive to help deescalate. You may also consider doing role play that allows your child to practice using these skills, in addition to the other anger management techniques for children.
This method involves daily practice of at least 10-15 minutes each day of doing calming activities while listening to calm, soothing music, perhaps the same music that your child may listen to when falling asleep, while in a calm and relaxed state.
You may need to gradually build the time to 10-15 minutes. This teaches your child what it means to relax, how it should feel, and how to become relaxed.
Practicing relaxation techniques when already calm is an important component to this, as it is too difficult to engage in the practices when upset unless they have already been learned.
Once able to do the relaxation strategies while calm, he or she will be more likely to do them when prompted while upset.
How to start teaching anger management techniques for children:
Start by saying something such as, “Let’s learn what it means to take a break”, “Let’s practice relaxing!” or “Quiet time!” depending on age. Then have your child sit comfortably, while listening to the music with the lights dimmed and no other distractions.
If able to imitate, prompt him or her to take some deep breaths, close the eyes, while saying to your child in a soft voice, “Good job relaxing.” every few minutes. You may even use a squeeze/stress ball during sessions that can be easily taken places to use during an episode.
For an older child you can simply talk to him or her about learning how to calm down and relax when upset and then practice listening to calming music while taking deep breaths or doing other calming activities that he/she can identify, such as going for a walk.
These anger management techniques for children should be practiced on a daily basis for at least a couple of weeks before prompting to use them when becoming upset.
What to do when angry
When your child starts to escalate into a melt down or aggressive behavior, simply turn the music on or prompt to go listen to music while stating “It looks like you are getting angry. I think we need to calm down and take a break, and then we can work out the problem when you are calm.” You may also prompt to use the squeeze/stress ball.
This method will not always be available as you may not have access to music, but you can still prompt to take deep breaths, use the stress ball and sit down. This also may not necessarily be suitable for all children.
You may want to consider getting an MP3 player or other device that allows your child to use it when starting to get upset as a way to help de-escalate anywhere you are.
Eventually, some children will even be able to self prompt use of the anger management techniques by verbally saying, “I am getting upset, I need to calm down and go listen to my music.” instead of becoming aggressive.
Anger management techniques for children, including toddlers and preschoolers:
Typically at this age, you will start to see most children have a hard time controlling emotions. With my own kids when they are younger and those I work with, I like to replace time outs with taking time to calm down. So, when a young child is upset and crying because they can't have or do something, I simply say you need to sit here or stay in this room until you sit down with a quiet mouth and count to 20.
Then if they continue to cry, I say "Sit down" every 10-20 seconds until they sit down. Then, "Quiet mouth" every 10-20 seconds until they are quiet. As soon as they are quiet, I either ask them to count if able or begin to count myself all the way up to 20. At this point they can get up and rejoin the group or common area. If crying starts again at anytime while counting, I say, "I'll wait" then restart counting as soon as the child is quiet.
This is a great method of teaching young children how to calm themselves at a young age before their anger gets out of control at an older age.
Always allow your child to take a break and listen to music as well as any other anger management techniques for children and verbally praise for requesting to do this in place of displaying other aggressive behavior. You may even prompt your child if you start to notice cues indicating he or she is getting upset, by stating do you need a break to listen to your music and take some deep breaths?
When getting upset, it can take up to 30 minutes for ones heart rate to decrease. So, allow time to engage in the anger management techniques and avoid doing or saying things that will further upset your child.
Important things to remember are that if your child has been trying to get something or trying to do an activity you have said they can’t have or do, follow through on your word. Giving requested items or activities after aggressive behavior only reinforces it and says that aggressive behavior in children will get wanted items/activities.
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