One thought on “Angry Kids: Tips to Cope with an Out of Control Child

  • August 27, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    This is a great article by Aaron Karmin. When children are angry it’s important for parents to remain grownups, meaning remaining calm and thoughtful is essential. As Aaron explains, parenting is ineffective at best when it is born out of the parent’s own impatience or insecurity about the child’s behaviors. In counseling I have found it helpful to give parents a deeper perspective regarding their child’s anger. It’s not just about the behavior they are seeing, rather, they need to see the emotions and experiences that lie within the child which are coming to the surface as anger. Anger is a sign that something is going on that probably needs to be addressed…and usually this means that the parent(s) should join with the child to address it. There needs to be a parent-child team with a shared concern. I often describe anger as the tip of an iceberg–it’s what people might see on the outside, but there is a lot going on below the surface. I believe anger is usually rooted in at least one of three experiences or deeper emotions: 1) perceived injustice, 2) hurt/sorrow, and 3) fear. For example, if a kid comes home from school and kicks the dog out of anger we don’t just want to yell at him and punish him for being angry. Yes, behaviors necessitate consequences, but there is much more going on that is even more important to address. What’s the cause or root of his anger? If we rewind his day we might discover he is being bullied at school. There is a sense of injustice that he is being singled out, fear caused by intimidation, and sadness for being laughed at and publicly embarrassed. A kid may not no where to turn for help or how to express his fears and hurt in a healthy way, so it comes out as anger. The anger is a sign that the child needs help with something very important. If he goes home and gets swatted with a belt for being angry then his parents have also become bullies. Furthermore, the child becomes more isolated and the anger will continue to intensify in the future. If parents instead pause and begin to explore with the child what’s going on beneath the surface then they can really begin to solve the behavior problems, because they will be solving the real problems. Family counseling is a great place to work through anger issues within the family.

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