Should I Look At Anger Management For Kids?
Updated January 01, 2019
Reviewer Rashonda Douthit , LCSW
Does your child seem to have trouble with anger? Everyone has times when they feel angry or upset, and with children, this can be even more of a problem since they haven't quite learned how to regulate their emotions. This means that they can be more outspoken, more hurtful and even more aggressive because they're still learning. But does your child seem to get angry quickly? Or maybe they seem to be more aggressive or heated than other children of a similar age. If that's the case, it may be time to seek professional help or at least some professional advice.
Do I Need Anger Management for Kids?
The average child will experience full-blown tantrums and meltdowns. It's going to happen, and it's normal. Even if your child seems mild-mannered most or even all of the time it's normal for them to have a meltdown occasionally. However, most children will outgrow this type of behavior by the time they reach 7 or 8 years old. By this time, they start to internalize the self-regulating behaviors that you teach them about how to manage their anger. They may still have occasional outbursts (we all get overly emotional sometimes) but their normal anger is more toned down.
If your child is over the age of 7 or 8 and still experiencing tantrums and outbursts that are not regulated this could be a sign that there is something else going on. Other behavior that could be a sign of something serious could be:
- Behavior that could harm the child or someone else
- Behavior that causes problems in school
- Behavior that interferes with the ability to make and keep friends
- Behavior that interferes with family life
- Feelings that the anger is uncontrollable
- Feeling bad for themselves because of the uncontrollable anger
- Throws or breaks things when angry
- Finds it very difficult to calm down
- Does not like any kind of change
- Says mean things when they feel ignored or treated unfairly
These symptoms may mean that you should seek professional help. Your child may be having difficulty controlling his or her anger and this could cause them problems throughout the rest of their lives.
Why Does My Child Have Anger Problems?
There are several potential causes for anger problems in children, which can range from ADHD, anxiety and trauma or neglect to learning problems and trouble processing sensory information. This means that there could be reasons that your child is acting out that have nothing to do with them being a mean child. Rather, it has to do with them having a problem that they can't understand and they subsequently react in the only ways that they know how. Not understanding what is happening to them or having the vocabulary to express it may make them angry and upset and, as a result, they get angry with the people around them.
By discovering what is hiding in your child's anger, you'll be able to help them improve their lives. Getting your child to understand what is happening to them well enough to diagnose the problem, however, is something that is better left to the professionals. They will be able to talk with your child about what they're experiencing. It's going to take a lot of work, but it's also going to improve their lives dramatically.
How Can Anger Problems Affect My Child's Future?
Left untreated, anger problems can lead to trouble making and keeping friends. It can lead your child to get into fights, get hurt or hurt others. It can lead to problems within the family as well and cause conflict or even harm. As your child gets older, it can cause even more harm to them personally. Finding a partner and friends and even getting a good job can be extremely difficult for a child and later an adult who has difficulty with anger. Getting help as early is important.
What Can I Do?
Consistency in discipline is important. Finding a style of discipline that works for you and your child can be difficult and time-consuming, but once you find something you need to stick to it. This also means sticking to the same rules all the time. If it is against the rules for your child to talk back, then it's crucial that you follow the same process of discipline each time that your child talks back.
It's not just about punishments or discipline, however. It's about positive parenting as well. You want to make sure you give your child encouragement and that you reinforce positive interactions. It's also about providing a positive role model for the child, including being calm and consistent with them. There's more to understand, however, and far more than you can be doing.
- Don't give in to tantrums
- Stay calm
- Praise the positive things that your child does
- Ignore minor instances of negative behavior
- Be consistent with everything you do
- Don't try to talk with a child who is in the middle of a meltdown
- Work on creating a way to help your child calm down
Finding the Professional Help Your Child Needs
Getting your child professional help is important. Of course, finding a professional can be difficult, no matter where you live. If you live in a small town, it can be difficult to find someone. Your child needs to feel comfortable with them and so do you, after all. But what do you do if you can't find someone within a reasonable distance of your home? The truth is, even if someone does live nearby you can reach out to an entirely different group of professionals. These are the ones that give you sessions entirely online.
Online sessions are the same as the in-person sessions. The difference is that you don't have to go to a physical location to have the session. Instead, you can set your child up in front of a computer or other internet connected device, and you'll be able to connect with their therapist. What's great about it is you'll be able to talk with a professional from anywhere, which means on vacation, at home or anywhere else. They'll feel much more willing to open up when they can be somewhere they feel comfortable.
BetterHelp is one place that you can help your child connect with a licensed mental health professional. Therapists who specialize in a broad spectrum of mental health conditions are located throughout the country. You'll also be able to find information about different mental health conditions when you log on to the website.
When you do find a professional to work with your child, it's important that you are consistent with what the therapist tells you. They will likely give you plans to follow and help you better understand what your child needs from you to help with their treatment process. Making sure your child understands that the therapy is designed to help them feel better and does not make them different or bad is also important.
A child that thinks there's something wrong with them or that they're a bad child is less likely to be successful, and that's going to require you to work with the therapist on finding how to talk to them about what they're going through. The therapist will help you along the way, and before you know it, your child will be on their way to a happier and healthier life, which will set them up for the future.