Tips for parents to manage anger issues or temper tantrums in kids

Updated on May 30, 2022 02:27 PM IST
What causes anger issues in children? How can parents notice a problem when it comes to children's anger? What are the red flags requiring intervention? How can anger issues in kids be corrected? What kind of support must be given? Know from experts
Tips for parents to manage anger issues or temper tantrums in kids (Kindel Media)
Tips for parents to manage anger issues or temper tantrums in kids (Kindel Media)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

Anger is an important emotion which is helpful for children, especially to know when they are not comfortable about anything or when they feel something is unfair or wrong but it becomes problematic when the accompanying behaviour gets aggressive or out of control. Anger in children is often just the emotion we see but the underlying problem or issues are multi-fold.

Factors responsible for anger issues in kids:

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sapna Bangar, Psychiatrist and Head at Mumbai's Mpower The Centre, shared, “Some of the common reasons why children get angry are when they are stressed and feeling overwhelmed, when they are subjected to verbal or physical abuse by others, friendship issues or bullying by others. Sometimes it could be to get their parent’s attention or because they feel bored or are uncertain or scared of something.”

Pointing out that we all experience the emotion of anger but angry feelings often bubble as outburst for children, Dr Himani Narula, Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrician, Director and Co-Founder of Continua Kids, said, “Many parents don’t know how to manage temper tantrum and wonder why children have tantrums. Many children express anger in the form of episodes of crying, kicking, stomping, hitting and pushing that may last for 5 to 10 minutes.”

She added, “Various factors can contribute to anger, irritability, and aggression. One common trigger is frustration when a child cannot get what he or she wants or is asked to do something that he or she doesn’t feel like doing. Many conditions the anger can accompany some mental health conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette’s syndrome etc. Genetic factors and some environmental Factors like trauma, dysfunctional family, harsh parenting styles can trigger anger and aggression in children.”

Echoing the same, Dr Shubhangi Parkar, Psychiatrist and member of Clirnet Community said “Anger is a common emotion in children and at a times helpful too when necessary. Several factors can contribute to a child's angry behaviour. Anger can become troublesome especially if child's angry behaviour and activities get out of control or destructive. One general trigger identified is dissatisfaction when the child cannot get what he or she demands. Many a times anger related problems in children often go along with other mental health problems such as ADHD, Autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, conduct disorder etc. Sometimes they are seen with social problems like being bullied or problems in school.”

According to Sudarshan Vig, Co-Founder and CEO at Merlinwand, “Anger issues in kids are more common than one may think. The reasons may be many but most of them are linked to immediate family and environment that shape their upbringing. More often than not, the anger issues in parents and elders percolate to kids, who then consider it a legitimate way to be heard, to explain their point of view or just be a bully in outside scenarios as a way to vent their internal conflicts. Sometimes it can also be a result of being over pampered.”

Indicators or red flags of children's anger:

Dr Himani Narula revealed, “Frequent episodes of outburst for children in the form of episodes of crying, kicking, stomping, hitting, and pushing that may last for 5 to 10 minutes. A pattern of angry/irritable mood, defiant behaviour and/or spitefulness that lasts six months or more, a persistent pattern of behaviour that violates the rights of others, such as bullying and stealing and/or age-appropriate norms, such as truancy from school or running away from home or episodes of frequent angry outbursts and irritable or depressed mood most of the time are red flags that the anger problem is severe enough to require detail evaluation by a mental health expert. These red flags are also indicators towards conduct and defiant disorders requiring intervention and support.”

Tips to manage anger issues or temper tantrums:

Psychiatrist Dr Shubhangi Parkar advised, “While dealing with anger related problems of children, parents and teachers need to be together with the children to help them understand that anger is a problem. Talking skillfully and patiently about supporting plans to cope up with anger. If children exhibit anger constantly, if it is harmful to them and others in the environment, it is necessary to take professional help of psychiatrists to find out the problem and serious reasons behind it.”

She added, “Further child needs to undergo detail evaluation of the problem with brain related investigations and tailor-made intervention plan such as medicines, counselling, behaviour therapy and psycho-education to family as well as teachers. In due course , positive feedback is essential. Learning alternate ways to express and address anger as well as emotional regulations will be helpful in long run. Nevertheless children's anger related behaviour should be medically attended at earliest to prevent further complications in future.”

Listing some ways to manage anger in children, Psychiatrist Dr Sapna Bangar highlighted:

1. Communication – It is key for parents to have open communication and set boundaries about acceptable and unacceptable that are few, crisp and clear to avoid children feeling confused and uncertain.

2. Strategies – Teach children how to manage their anger in a non-destructive way such as distracting themselves, use creative arts like drawing, singing or dancing when they are angry. Teach them to take themselves away from the situation and take deep breaths. One strategy that helps is asking them to count backwards from 10-1.

3. Rewards - We immediately notice children when they scream and shout but often their good behaviour goes unnoticed. Make sure to reward your child for their good behaviour. The best reward for your young children is often your appreciation, time and attention

4. Practice what you preach – Parents are role models for the children so they learn to control emotions and act on them by observing their parents. So as parents, we need to be mindful what we say and how we behave in front of the children

6. Physical activities - Letting go of excess energy is a great way to let go of pent up emotions so make sure your child gets to indulge in regular outdoor activities

7. Screen time - Limit screen time to 30 mins to 1 hour per day as there is a lot of research associating aggression with excessive screen usage

8. Seek help - If you feel that your child has anger issues, please seek help from a professional.

Elaborating upon how anger issues in kids can be corrected and what kind of support must be given, Dr Himani Narula said, “Behavioural intervention is the scientifically proven method and line of treatment for anger management in children. Some of the therapies that are used for managing the anger and aggression problems in children include cognitive behavioural therapy, teaching emotion regulation to prevent anger outbursts, teaching various alternative methods to express and address frustration and working on communication strategies via role play to resolve anger provoking situations. Parents can be trained on the right parenting style and teaching parents various management techniques have good success rate in managing anger and aggression problems in children.”

As per Sudarshan Vig, the primary way to manage anger issues is to identify the core reason behind it, taking help of therapy if necessary. He said, “Once the core issue is understood, it’s quite possible that even parents and elders needs psychiatric help in anger management. What would be of paramount importance is to always be a good listener when they want to convey something and be sensitive towards it. It always helps to talk things out. When it comes to tantrum-based anger, parents need to realise that if there is something unreasonable being demanded it helps to be polite but firm. It also helps to reason out with them about why you view something as “unreasonable”, talk as a peer rather than give a perception of talking to a kid. That also helps the parent-child relationship in the long run.”

 

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Tuesday, August 09, 2022
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