Most adults understand that an infant’s cry is a form of communication. It is, in fact, the only method an infant has of telling the adults around him that he is uncomfortable. He may be hungry. He may be feeling pain from an upset tummy. He may simply be feeling lonely or frightened. When we picture an infant in distress, we don’t usually think that the baby requires anger management. But the baby is probably very angry, especially if his needs are not met promptly. When we think about anger management for children, let’s review where a child has been and how he got to this angry place. We may begin to learn more by taking a few steps back.
As children reach their toddler years, few of us are surprised to see them expressing anger by acting out in a temper tantrum. Some parents simply ignore this stage altogether. Others try to manage it. Neither approach is optimal, since a young toddler is still trying to communicate using the skills they have available.
As a baby, the child cried and got what they needed. As a toddler, they become more angry because screaming and crying and jumping up and down doesn’t always elicit their desired response. If a toddler’s tantrums are ignored or laughed at, the young child will usually become more angry. Again, the child is trying to negotiate an outcome using the best skills they have available. they haven’t been taught to do otherwise.
In fact, entire professional specialties, in psychiatry and psychology, have been created to observe human anger and manage it. The underlying message is that civilized societies have decided that there is little or no room for the expression of anger. Optimally anger must be banished. At a minimum it must be managed.
It makes sense to think this way because unchecked anger can escalate into crime or uncontrolled violence. No culture wants people running amok, angry all of the time. So many cultures have decided that the medical community is best suited for dealing with anger by developing anger management for children to avoid having more angry adults later on.
Two common approaches to anger management for children are the use of psychiatric drugs or getting they child involved in a team sport. Other approaches may include group or individual counseling, diets restricted in sugar and synthetic foods or anger therapy where children are encouraged to beat up pillows to express their anger and get it out of their system.
But what if anger management for children was viewed a tad more holistically? Would we begin seeing fewer side effects associated with prescription drugs? Might we experience less anger if we were to step back a bit and view a child’s anger as we viewed their innocent cry in infancy as an expression of their discomfort, their loneliness or their hunger?
Could we begin to answer these questions if we were to take a more holistic approach instead of trying to always find a quick fix when it came to finding solutions for how to deal with angry children. Must they be ‘managed’ or are we failing to see that they lack self-management tools and communication skills?
Popular methods of administering anger management for children are centered in the quick fix zone. Drugs can certainly keep a child from expressing outbursts of anger. But are they the best choice? Getting a child involved in sports is another quick fix alternative for helping a child express anger through physical exertion. But what if the angry child is a sensitive artist, at heart, and the thought of playing ball makes them sick to their stomach? Wouldn’t being forced to play baseball only make this child angrier at a deeper level?
This is the time to consider what course anger plays in our world and the affect it has on our children. Likewise, new millennial parents and educators will want to have a better understanding of how children learn to communicate in order to help their children work through anger instead of simply stuffing it, drugging it or pretend it doesn’t exist.
Angry children are expressing a need in the only way they know how. Anger management for children of the new millennium will need to provide a more holistic approach than the quick fix methods of the past. Today’s parents and educators have grown up in a world where communication has become more sophisticated. Perhaps this new generation will determine that leadership is a better guide in helping children manage anger through improved communication skills and fewer quick fix drugs and activities.
Zody is the author of “Anger Management – How To Control Your Anger”, a guide to regaining control of your life from the poison of anger. She is also a contributor to The Self Help Book Shop [http://theselfhelpbookshop.com/blog/] Blog.
some funny moments from anger management
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