A child’s anger can often be confusing. It can be difficult to know why they are frustrated or aggressive, and what steps you should take to help them both in the moment and in the future, especially if you are finding that their anger issues are becoming more regular.
Carol Bradley is a Registered Manager at Ebenezer House, a residential environment for young people. She has looked at the reasons why children can become angry and the steps that parents, teachers and carers can take if they think an anger issue is becoming more than a typical childhood behaviour problem.
Common reasons a child becomes angry
Children can become angry when they are frightened, anxious and do not understand what is happening in their lives. There are a number of reasons that can cause a child to become angry, which include:
- Friendship problems
- Struggling with school and exams
- Feeling stressed, anxious or fearful about something
- Coping with hormone changes during puberty
- Seeing family members being angry or arguing with one another
Often the children cared for at Ebenezer House have experienced dysfunctional lives, which can also have a profound effect on a child from an early age and trigger anti-social behaviour in later life.
How to recognise when anger is more than a typical behaviour problem
If anger is out of character, try to communicate with the child to find out why they are feeling this way. Ask if certain tasks, school or friends are causing them to become annoyed.
If this unusual behaviour doesn’t seem to be caused by any external frustrations, think about if the child needs a professional assessment and therapy in order to encourage them to identify their concerns. Attachment issues and personality disorders should also be assessed for and identified at this time to confirm if any treatment is needed to help the child.
Strategies to help children cope with anger issues
When a child becomes angry, it is important to work with them so that they can understand and better control their frustrations.
Help them spot the signsMake them aware that if their heart starts to beat faster, their muscles tense, their teeth clench or their stomach churns, this could be a sign that they are becoming angry. Helping them spot the signs early can give them the opportunity to make more positive decisions on how to handle it.
Talk about helpful strategiesEncourage your child to count to 10, walk away from a situation to calm down, breathe slowly and deeply, clench and unclench their fists in order to manage their anger more effectively.
Help them know where to turnLet them know that there are people they can turn to when a certain situation is causing them to feel angry.
Be positivePraise a child for any efforts they are making in order to build their confidence.
If a child has autism, mental health, behavioural or learning needs, and has anger issues, learn the symptoms and triggers for the behaviour. You can also follow a behaviour plan, which the young person should have input in so that they’re on board with the process. In school, give them classroom support with a teaching assistant, while ensuring structure and routines are in place and followed.
At Ebenezer House, when someone becomes or is about to become angry, they are treated with respect and dignity. Staff members work to raise their self-esteem and actively listen to them. Being a positive role model, while being consistent with firm and fair boundaries, are fundamental for changing behaviour too.
Steps to take when worried about a child’s anger issues
If you are concerned that a child’s anger may not be a typical behavioural problem, you can take the following steps to help them get the support that they need:
- Consult a professional to get an assessment completed as soon as possible
- Work in partnership with all agencies to ensure the needs of the child can be met
- After an assessment, a range of therapeutic support can be offered to enable specific needs to be met which can include medication
For more details on Priory Education and Children's Services, please call 0118 970 8068 or click here to make an enquiry.