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Hot Tips For Helping Children Manage Angry Feelings During Summer Months

Posted by on December 19th, 2011 |

Featured in Families In The Loop, August 2011

Everyone, kids and grown ups included, feels angry from time to time. Children’s experiences of feeling “mad” can be overwhelming for both themselves and for the grownups who are trying to help manage a child’s anger. And in the summer months, with changes in routine and schedules (both good and bad) families tempers can be on edge in particular. Not to mention the sticky Chicago weather. A child’s temper tantrum can set off frustration in a parent, teacher or counselor. So what are some tips to help manage hot, hot, hot feelings in the summer months?

1)    It’s normal and natural for us all to react to other’s feelings and emotions. It’s important however to keep in mind that children learn how to behave from adult models. If a parent or adult models how they can manage anger this sends the message to a child that a situation is not overwhelming. Keep your cool and you will be encouraging your child to keep theirs. Adults can give themselves “time-outs” on occasion! Giving yourself the change to “chill out” will help you manage a child’s anger in a more meaningful fashion.

2)    Anger rarely gets us anywhere except for more angry and frustrated. And those around us more upset.  Children learn more from what adults do than what they say. This applies to both positive and negative emotions. So try hard to manage your subtle reactions to frustrating situations. Children pick up on more than we give them credit for!

3)    The things we can control versus the things we cannot control. What a hard lesson to learn! And often a lifelong struggle! But there is no use getting upset over things that are out of our control. Showing children that the world won’t end if we don’t get our way, if there are delays in travel plans, a play date is canceled. The only thing we can control is our own reactions to situations. Have a mantra “Can we control this situation? Or is this situation out of our control?” No use getting upset over spilt milk. Modeling this behavior for children can go farther than lecturing them on the subject.

4)    Everyone feels angry and that’s ok. What’s most important is to talk about it. Consider having your child make a list of Anger Rules. For example:

  1. It’s OK to feel angry but:
    1.              Don’t hurt yourself
    2.              Don’t hurt others
    3.              Don’t hurt property
  2. DO talk about it.

5)    If you or your child has an angry flare up consider the following:

  1. Remove your child from the situation (this includes the grocery store, camp, a friends house.)
  2. Give your child an opportunity to express their anger first. For example, punching a cushion, tearing up paper, crying
  3. Reflect how your child is feeling “I can see you feel angry……still angry? ……How do you feel now?” Don’t “over talk” about the situation until your child has had the chance to calm down.
  4. Don’t make your child say he or she is sorry until they have calmed down sufficiently.

And most importantly – focus on the positive memories you are creating with your child during summer vacation. Share some of your childhood memories, take time to play, to have lazy afternoons, to eat ice cream.

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