We’ve all seen it. That child who throws a huge tantrum in a store. Yelling, stomping, pulling things from the shelves.
It’s not unusual for children to go through this phase as they grow up.
But what if you suspect that your child’s behavior is not normal?
Is Your Child’s Anger Out of Control?
Of course, any child can get frustrated or have an occasional meltdown. But if they consistently won’t or can’t control their behavior, you may have a bigger problem to deal with.
5 signs that you should be concerned about your child’s behavior:
- They have frequent and explosive outbursts after the age of 7-8 years-old.
- They’re constantly involved in some interpersonal conflict, yet they don’t try to solve the problem, nor will they acknowledge their role in it. Due to this inability to get along with others, they often get excluded from social activities, lose friends, and alienate adults.
- Their behavior is dangerous to others. They may yell, use expletives, tell people they hate them, throw things, damage property, or seek revenge.
- They’re a danger to themselves. Getting upset at not being able to control their outbursts, they may express hatred for themselves and threaten to hurt themselves or actually do it.
- Their out of control behavior causes some serious problems within their family and at school.
How You Can Help Your Child
The first thing you can do to help your child is to figure out why they’re angry. What is the underlying cause? Could they be suffering from one of the following problems?
Children with this disorder may find it difficult to comply with instructions or switch from one activity to another with ease. Anger, arguing, defiance, and tantrums can simply be the result of their inability to focus and finish tasks.
Situations that cause stress can make it hard for children to cope. Sometimes the stress may come from excessive expectations at school, a recent move, a divorce, or the death of a loved one. Children who suffer from severe anxiety may easily lash out or refuse to do something to avoid the thing that causes them stress.
Children with this neurobehavioral condition need consistent routines to feel safe. When something unexpected happens that upsets this routine, it can set them off and lead to a dramatic meltdown. They often also have an oversensitivity to stimulation that can overwhelm them and cause an outburst.
When children consistently have outbursts at school or during homework time, it could be that they have a learning issue. But instead of asking for help, they often get frustrated and irritable and may act out, ripping up the assignment paper or starting trouble with other children to distract them from their problem.
Children are very sensitive. When they grow up in a home with a lot of chaos, or they’re subjected to neglect or trauma, it makes them feel unsafe. The loss of safety can cause them to act on their fear and anger – threatening, intimidating, or bullying other children.
If you realize your child is dealing with any of these situations, get them treatment immediately. It can make a big difference in their behavior.
If you have ruled out these conditions, you can try teaching them to manage their anger more constructively by:
- Setting limits – Let them know that feeling angry is human, but it’s not okay to handle it inappropriately. Destructive actions are off limits.
- Staying with them – Your child needs your love most when they’re having the biggest problems. By staying near, you can show them they’re not alone and help alleviate their feelings of helplessness.
- Remain calm – Yelling at an angry child just makes the outburst worse. They lashed out because they’re afraid. When you stay calm, your child will feel safe, and that helps them counter their fear.
Understanding why your child is angry is the first step to solving the problem. If you have trouble finding the cause or it’s more than you can handle, working with a child therapist will help bring peace to your child.