The temper tantrums of a toddler. The backtalk of a teen. And the never-ending squabbles between siblings. Childhood seems to give kids plenty of opportunities to demonstrate anger, doesn't it?
And as a mom of four, I find myself continually needing to help my kids process their anger emotions ... how about you?
Over the past few years, I've come a long way towards being less angry and as a result, I've been working with my kids to help them control their anger as well.
I want to share part of our family's 4-step method to help kids manage their anger. Obviously this is a generalized outline that can be customized based on the situation and each child's age and maturity level.
Step 1: "I'm angry. Now what?"
We first teach our kids to identify the anger building inside them. Anger isn't a bad emotion in of itself, however, it's critical that we know how to handle anger so that it doesn't turn into sinful thoughts or actions that hurt us, others or God.
Then, we encourage our kids to do three simple things: lower their tone, take a deep breath (in for a count of four and out for a count of eight) and, if need be, to walk away and talk about it with God. This allows them to diffuse the intensity of their emotions.
Step 2: "I need a plan."
Once they are able to calm down a little and think rationally (even though the anger feelings are still swirling), we help them separate out their emotions from the truth. Sometimes they're able to do this on their own, and other times we help them through it.
Some questions they can ask themselves are: "What am I really angry about?" and "What is true about the situation?" These two questions help kids, first, get to the root of their anger; and second, separate out the emotion from what is really going on.