The key to helping your child express anger appropriately is to be perceptive, anticipatory, and calm. Remember that a child’s age and personality makes some of them more prone to tantrums than others. Try to maintain consistency, because even minor changes in your routine can cause an upheaval in a child’s emotional state, causing him anger, sadness, or frustration.
Some specific steps for handling your child’s anger:
Determine what is triggering it. Is he hungry, tired, or bored? Is the child truly upset, or is he simply trying to get your attention? It is usually easier to prevent outbursts than to try to stop them when they happen. Perhaps he just needs a snack or a few minutes of rest, so try to anticipate those needs in order to avoid meltdowns at home or in public.
Try not to blow up or let your own emotions get out of control, since screaming and yelling are not appropriate for either of you. Acknowledge your own anger and, if necessary, take a time out to get a handle on it. Talk firmly but quietly to your child, explaining that once he can use a regular voice then you will listen to him.
Whenever possible, ignore angry behavior that is only for attention. Otherwise, try redirecting the child in order to diffuse his anger by offering a specific activity. If your child gets angry while playing with other children, it is often better to let them handle minor disagreements themselves. However, you should be ready to step in if there is a potential for injury.
If your child is angry with someone else, let him know that actions like kicking, biting, and pulling hair are never acceptable. If you are at home, find a large pillow or cushion that the child can use to get his anger out. Some parenting experts suggest hugging a stuffed animal or running around outside to release his energy. Demonstrate consistent behavior by avoiding physical punishment and explaining that hitting should never be used to solve conflicts.
Finally, if you feel that your child’s anger issues are beyond your control, get help by contacting his pediatrician for advice.