• How to Calm Your Angry Child: 5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know

    So, your little one is mainitin ang ulo. It's okay. Try these simple techniques at home.
    by Jillianne E. Castillo .
How to Calm Your Angry Child: 5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know
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  • Dealing with a child who is “mainitin ang ulo” is exhausting and can really test a parent's patience, but don't fret. There is a key to finding peace in your home: it's by understanding your child's anger and knowing how best to help deal with her emotions before it becomes a tantrum. From experts, here are important things to know about children and their big emotions:

    1. Children are easily angered — and that's fine.

    When adults get mad, they do their best to keep calm. They keep their voice level and try not to become aggressive both in words and actions, for example. You can't expect your child to do the same and be like a grown-up.

    First, your child is not mature enough because the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and judgment is not yet done growing, so to speak.

    “Since they don't have a fully developed frontal cortex to help them self-regulate, children are even more prone to lashing out when they're angry,” explains Dr. Laura Markham, a psychologist and parenting expert, in an article for Aha! Parenting

    Second, your child doesn’t know yet that there are other ways to deal with his anger other than throwing a tantrum or being aggressive. Parents, in turn, must teach a child that feeling angry is okay but keeping calm and communicating emotions appropriately is a must. 

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    2. Feeling heard and understood helps a child let go of anger.

    Expressing the emotion and feeling heard helps a child let go of anger. Create a home that allows your child to open up to you. “If you can keep yourself from getting triggered and acknowledge why your child is upset, his anger will begin to calm,” says Dr. Markham. “That will help him feel safe enough to feel the more vulnerable emotions driving the anger.”

    “By contrast, if we don't help kids feel safe enough to feel those underlying emotions, they will just keep losing their tempers, because they don't have any other way to cope with the upsets inside them,” she adds. 

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    3. Children need to be taught how to deal with anger.

    Remember, there are no right and wrong emotions. Feeling angry is okay — it’s what a person does when he or she is angry that matters. Developmental psychologist Ashley Soderlund tells Slate, “The golden rule is emotions are never the enemy, even when they are exaggerated.” She adds, “Children need to practice expressing emotions and learn to deal with them.” 

    Some constructive ways to deal with anger include calming down by stopping for a moment (with deep breaths or counting down), receiving or giving affection (by hugging a loved one or beloved pet, for example), distraction (taking a walk or playing outside) and, later on, talking about what the problem is and finding a solution. 

    The earlier your child learns how to handle her anger, the better. “Teaching children a new way to deal with their anger constructively is not easy — especially if they have only practiced aggressive ways to deal with their frustrations,” says Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and parenting expert, in a column for Parents.  

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    4. A parent needs to be patient for their child.

    The Child Mind Institute explains, “Harsh or angry responses tend to escalate a child’s aggression, be it verbal or physical. By staying calm, you’re also modeling — and teaching — your child the type of behavior you want to see in him.”

    Practice patience especially when you are with your child. Having a mantra helps to remind you what to do. Take driving as an example. When you lose your temper because someone cut you off, you can say something like “I got angry and lost my temper at that other driver. I’ll take a deep breath and let’s listen to some fun songs to help me calm down.” 

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    5. It’s easier for a child to listen when he has calmed down.

    Once your child has calmed down enough to think clearly, let your child tell you what happened,” says Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a psychologist and author, for Psychology Today. “Explaining the sequence of events slows children down and engages the thinking part of their brain. Express empathy so your child feels heard and comforted.”

    “After that, you can ask questions to help your child understand other people’s perspectives and use healthy communication or problem-solving,” Kennedy-Moore explains. Try saying, “What could you say to let your brother know that you didn’t like what he did?” or “What can you do to feel better?”

    “Responding to children's anger with gentleness and compassion makes it easier for children to deal with strong feelings and think things through,” she adds.

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