Book Preview: Managing and Coping with the Angry Child
Coping with the angry child
When children feel inadequate to cope with a situation, when they don't even know what the reality of the situation requires them to do, it frustrates them, it makes them very angry. Then, they will do something that does not need to be done--mischief. Mischief is self indulgent, counter-productive and ultimately self destructive. If it is not managed properly it does not get better, it gets worse. It escalates until you can't stand it any longer and explode. Mischief ranges from talking back to parents to setting the house on fire. It covers everything that does not need to be done.
Children who feel inadequate to cope do not respect themselves or others
They hold themselves in contempt and behave accordingly. We may think that their behavior is illogical, but it is not. They have their own logic, "I am worthless and stupid, worthless and stupid things deserve to be destroyed, therefore, I deserve to be destroyed/punished". This is the logic of self-destructive misbehavior. Their misbehavior and mischief is their way of bringing about the punishment and destruction that they feel they deserve. The child's negative behavior always has a hidden purpose underneath it. To effectively manage and cope with the child's anger, and the misbehavior associated with it, you must be able to identify the underlying purpose and the goals of negative behavior. After you have identified the negative purpose or goal of the child's behavior, you are in a position to do something constructive about it and learn how to emotionally disengage from his provocative behavior.
The problem is not the child's anger
The problem is the mismanagement of the anger. Mischief and misbehavior CAN be a problem, but it is also an opportunity to teach responsibility and anger management skills to the child. There are two very effective ways to do this. Give them choices, and give them personal examples.
Responsibility = Choices + Consequences
Responsibility is learned by making choices and then accepting the outcome and consequences of those choices and decisions. Therefore, the most essential condition that we must create for our children is to provide them with the freedom to make choices and the awareness of the logical consequences thereof.
Of course, we must exercise appropriate discrimination when creating these conditions to teach responsibility to our children. Read Coping With the Angry Student/ Child resource manual for examples of anger management activities for students and children.
Example is not only the best way to teach character and anger management to our children, it is the ONLY way to teach it! As parents, teachers, counselors or education professionals, we must model appropriate behavior to our students/children. It is the way you, as a parent or teacher, are managing your anger problems and frustration that provide children with the best means of handling their own anger and frustration. Therefore, we must-as a precondition- learn how to effectively and appropriately manage our own anger and then, model these skills for our students/children. Example is always the best teacher.
As parents, teachers, counselors or education professionals, we must model appropriately. Learn how to understand children's actions.