July 31, 2012

Toddlers and Anger Management

Okay, it’s truth time: How many of you have a toddler that seems to spin out-of-control at the slightest frustration? I have to admit, this is a quality my son possesses. It’s one that my husband and I are working diligently to get under control, especially since he will be entering pre-k in the next two months. I know we are not the only ones who are dealing with this problem, so I thought it would be beneficial to write a blog post with a few tips for how to help your toddler learn better anger management skills. My husband and I have been practicing these for a little over a week now and have already seen an improvement in our son’s behavior. Hopefully, you’ll find them helpful too.
1. Stay calm during a tantrum/emotional outburst. It is incredibly easy to let my son’s angry outbursts cause me to become angry too. However, if I’m angry when dealing with my son’s outburst, how will I teach him how to control his anger? The first thing my husband and I have had to do is learn how to remain calm during an emotional outburst from our son. This hasn’t been easy, believe me. But, it does help remedy the situation quicker.

2. Walk away from the child. We have also learned how to walk away from our son when he’s in the middle of a tantrum. There are two reasons for this. The first is that we now have a rule in our house where we won’t solve a problem until everyone is calm first. Obviously, in a tantrum, our son isn’t calm. The second reason for walking away is that it immediately takes away the attention our son is receiving from his tantrum. If there isn’t anyone there to pay attention to his outburst, why should he continue doing it? If you try this, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your child stops the behavior when he/she realizes you’re not watching.

3. Talk about our feelings and how to handle them. Another thing we do is talk about our feelings and how we handle them. My husband and I have started using real-life experiences to tell our son how they make us feel and what we need to do to calm down. For instance, if my son does something that makes me angry, I’ll say, “What you did has made me angry. I’m going to go in my room now and calm down before I talk to you.” Not only does this let my son know that I’m angry, but it also tells/shows him how I’m going to handle my feelings. Young children learn best by watching the adults around them, so if you want your child to learn how to handle his/her anger, be good role models yourself.

The tips above have proven to be helpful for my husband and I and hopefully they are for you too. One thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter if you’re at a wedding and your little one is dressed up in her little flower girl dress or if you’re at home and your son is in his pajamas – be consistent in how you handle the tantrums. If you aren’t consistent, then your child won’t learn how to handle his/her anger in a consistent, positive manner.