Hello my lovelies! I’m so glad I was inspired to write this post. How often as mothers do we have to deal with angry, emotional children? From meltdowns over not getting a candy bar at the grocery store, to more serious cases, I can definitely say it’s a big part of motherhood for me. Obviously, learning to deal with your emotions is a completely normal part of growing up. Unfortunately with the way we parents often handle our children’s outbursts, you’d think we didn’t know that. Many of us simply weren’t taught how to express our emotions, especially anger, in a healthy way and so are left without the resources to teach our children. As you know, if you’ve been with me for awhile, I have had to undergo quite a transformation to get to a healthy place in my life (read about that here https://womanwithbabies.com/2018/02/19/not-a-mom-but-a-woman-with-babies/) and expressing my emotions in a non harmful way has been part of that. Along with that came a piece of the puzzle I never really thought about, how would my emotional stability, or lack thereof, affect my children? As I’ve been on a journey to become a more conscious parent I began to see quite clearly how my unhealthy relationship with anger negatively impacted my children. In other words, I was fucking my kids up.
Looking back I feel a lot of guilt over how I treated my kids when they were small. I yelled often, spanked them, and I was always stressed and angry. But I didn’t know how else to parent. Only after years of personal development, did I realize that this was ineffective and even damaging at times. My son is 12 now, and while he’s confident and happy, I see the emotional scars from when I wasn’t as aware about mental and emotional health and positive parenting. These days. things are a bit different. Like today, instead of screaming at my daughter to be good, I took my her for a bike ride to cool off after she had a fight with her sister. As my daughter rode her bike, I walked with the baby thinking about the many times I’ve seen parents, myself included, struggle with how to deal with angry kids. As someone who sees a therapist and studies a lot about relationship dynamics, I know that how we deal with our children’s anger has a lot, if not everything, to do with how we handle our own emotions.
A mistake we make about anger and other emotions such as sadness, is that they are negative emotions. I learned recently that there are no negative emotions. They are all of equal value. Anger is important. It can tell you when something is wrong. It gives you the energy to incite change when something is unfair or you’re being mistreated. These days, I see anger as an energy. When I’m angry I feel it build up in my body and feel a need to release this energy. It can feel good in the moment to let anger take over, but we know in our minds that that isn’t the smartest decision. We need to learn to be the one in control of it, and not let it control us. Many adults still do not have this skill. As adults, we ourselves struggle with releasing our angry energy in a healthy way, yet we expect our children to stop feeling angry, sad, frustrated, or other “negative” emotions on demand. I get so sad when I see parents on forums who say they control their children’s tantrums by yelling at them and punishing them, yet never teaching them how to accept their emotions as normal and release the energy in a healthy way. We can teach ourselves and our kids to direct the angry energy into an action which benefits us, the way my daughter used her angry energy for her bike ride. I’m not perfect at this, but I have learned a few tips I’d like to share with you!
Let me acknowledge that this is not easy. No one wants unhappy kids, and emotional children can stress us out. But we are here to teach them, and I promise, teaching your kids how to be, what I’ll coin, skillfully angry, will make your family life sooo much less stressful!
HERE ARE MY TOP TEN TIPS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH ANGRY KIDS:
Disclaimer: I am NOT a mental health or child development professional. Everything I write is as an opinion based on my own personal experience as a mother, and person who battles depression though self education and therapy. My opinions should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental or emotional conditions for which you must see a doctor.
- Work on YOUR emotional health. Sorry guys but we aren’t gonna start with your angry kid, it all starts with you. You need to assess how YOU deal with anger first. Do you have a healthy relationship with your emotions? How would you know if you did? I think the easiest way to do this is to educate yourself on what emotional stability is and what it looks like. It doesn’t mean you never get angry or emotional! There are some great resources online. I personally like to follow therapists, doctors, and reputable life coaches on social media. I also see a therapist which has helped me make the biggest shift. In my humble opinion, education is the key. Then you can start implementing the skills you learn, therefore setting an example for your children. I would say this tip is the most important thing you can do for your kid. A quick note here, be weary of anyone that has a “just be positive” message, you must learn to self regulate and process your emotions, NOT ignore them.
- Crying is good! I think we all need to adjust our view of crying. Stop crying stop crying stop crying- that’s all kids hear. But crying releases the pent up energy and gives us relief. We all feel better after a good cry. If something has made your child feel bad, crying is a healthy way to release that emotion. Allow your child to cry and they will most likely have an easier time self regulating their emotions as they get older. When my most emotional child’s crying gets to be too much for me to handle, which is due to my own emotional instability not theirs, I give them a hug and say go ahead and finish up crying in your room, cry as much as you need to and we can talk when you’re ready. This might not be the best thing to do, but it’s the best I can do at times.
- Don’t punish them for feelings. Discipline is for teaching them right from wrong. While actions can be inappropriate, feelings cannot be wrong. We can’t necessarily control how we feel, especially as kids, but we can learn to control what actions we take. Things like spanking or making fun of a child for crying will not teach them how to release anger in a healthy way.
- Detach from your child. This sounds counter intuitive, I know. But what I’m talking about is NOT TAKING ON OUR CHILD’S EMOTIONS. We often let our children’s emotional outbursts get US emotional. In order to teach from a place of clarity, we mustn’t get so caught up in the commotion that we allow our anger, hurt, or sadness to have us say or do things that aren’t productive. I can tell you from experience that it is hard for a child to trust a parent who makes a big deal out of all of their emotions. They are afraid any little thing they do will cause us to have a breakdown. We are supposed to be the person they can lean on for support, even when they (or we ) feel like they hate us . We are their rock, so we have to maintain our emotional stability so they feel safe leaning on us.
- Teach them different strategies. Many of us weren’t taught how to release our anger. We were just taught that we had to hold it in or get punished. What do you think happened to all that angry energy? It came out in the way of rebellion, or worse we learned to numb those emotions with stimulants like drugs or alcohol, sex, or fighting. Anger doesn’t go away if you push it down, it will come out some way or another. Give your child strategies to help them learn to channel their energy productively. There are many children’s books which teach this so don’t worry if you don’t know what to do. A quick search on amazon can bring up some great children’s books on emotions (I’ll list a few I use below). There are also workbooks. Remember, different kids will feel more comfortable with different strategies, some need exercise/movement, others may need calming and soothing. Work with your kids to find out which one fits each of their needs.
- Teach the child to express themselves. Teaching kids the names of different emotions can help them express themselves easier. Teach them to read the signs their body gives them when they are feeling different emotions. Then work on how they can communicate their feelings to you or others. Speaking, writing, drawing, or using picture labels can be ways they can communicate their emotions when they want or need to.
- Ask questions. When a child is emotional this is actually a great time to get to know what’s going on with them. If you’re able to stay calm and they feel safe with you, they may open up to you. This is a great time to ask questions. The answers you get may help you find a resolution. For example when I had the last baby, my four year old threw a fit. Once she calmed down I asked her why she felt upset. She said, “You don’t love me anymore”. Instead of rushing to say yes I do! I asked her why she felt that way. Her answer was that I hugged the baby more than her. In that sentence I was able to tell that in order for her to feel loved, she needed more hugs which I wasn’t doing because I connect more by talking. Now I still make sure to give her a hug as soon as she gets up and before she goes to sleep, as well as quick hugs throughout the day. This was a simple solution that I could have missed if I rushed to telling mode instead of asking mode.
- Practice. You don’t have to wait for a child to get angry to start teaching anger release strategies. In fact it’s better to teach them while they are in a calm state so they have some practice implementing before the next time they get angry. I like to help my child come up with a plan for when they get angry. Do they do it perfectly every time? No. Sometimes I need to walk them through the steps, but what matters is that we’re both learning what works.
- Surround yourself with like-minded individuals. If you feel you need guidance or just want some support it’s nice to have other parents around to help figure things out. Even if you don’t have anyone physically there with you who is on the same page, there are many online support groups for conscious parenting. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask for help.
- You are enough. If you are a single parent or have a partner that has a toxic relationship with their emotions, don’t let that deter you from taking a different course. I’m not an expert but from my own research, every expert I’ve read says that it only takes ONE parent to drastically change the path of a child onto a more positive one. When you feel like you’re on your own, remember that ONE is enough!
So there you have it. All of these tips have helped really helped my children and I to connect more. Of course there’s the added benefit of having less meltdowns and happier kids. The best part is that I know I won’t be sending my kids out into the world without the proper tools for handling big feelings. I hope you found this blog post helpful. I know it may seem a little overwhelming, but take it slowly, one step at a time. You won’t regret it!
With much love and encouragement, LC xoxo
P.S. Did you find this article helpful? If you did, don’t forget to share and leave me a comment!
Who I follow for mental/emotional health tips:
Katie Morton https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hiHmIo-qrk
Books I use for helping my kids with their emotions:
Listening to my body https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075ZCLZ3P/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0
Listening with my heart https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077WCZB95/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i3
Coping Skills For Kids Workbook https://www.amazon.com/dp/1683731220/?coliid=I2DCFMROPKTLKI&colid=1WFC0DTS4W8QL&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it
A few books I use for my own emotional stability and parenting skills:
The Awakened Family https://www.amazon.com/Awakened-Family-Revolution-Parenting/dp/B01ENKLZPQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3USAF0T4TYOJ7&dchild=1&keywords=the+awakened+family+by+dr.+shefali+tsabary&qid=1587703160&s=books&sprefix=The+awakened+family%2Cstripbooks%2C231&sr=1-1
The online course I took to help with moving past trauma: High Value Worthy Woman Ascension by Mina Irfan $297 https://www.theuniverseguru.com/high-value-worthy-woman-ascension-offer36346621?fbclid=IwAR2tpExMphKyb6ohuVlxiyvOsho9wICeO_ofk7OqDYUKDrvW-QH3PvbQapk
I believe it’s never too late to be a guide for your children. Adults still look to their parents for guidance when things are going wrong. If you feel like you were misguided about how to handle anger in the past and your kids are already grown, it’s not too late to talk to your kids and set a different tone for future generations!