The other day, your son’s angry behavior was a cause of embarrassment and worry, no matter how hard you tried to control the situation from becoming worse. And this may not be the first instance when you are facing this situation. Dealing with an angry child can be one of the most challenging parenting skills directing you to find a distraction for controlling the child’s anger.
Like many parents, you make charts, practice time-out, reward your child’s good behavior and also ‘discipline’ him for an unacceptable behavior. But often, the techniques may not deliver successfully and there comes a point when you think you have had enough and should stop the nuisance permanently.
The Need For Anger Management
Many small children, particularly boys, can show anger as a preferred portrayal of their emotions. Some children can stick to this behavior because they find it the best way to get their job done. With time, anger management may come spontaneously as the child matures. But teaching anger management is always a welcome gesture for a child’s overall development.
Consistency is an important element when dealing with small children, especially a 4 year old. Emotional literacy comes slowly in children and controlling anger and impulse is one of the most difficult lessons children would want to learn. It can be difficult for even an adult to remain calm under adverse situations; what to say of a 4 year old.
Controlling anger is a cognitive process wherein you have to help the child realize that he/she should calm down. Children who cope with emotions (like anger) constructively can deal with disappointment and aggravation easily. This can play a favorable role in their personality development both in the short and long run. The ability to handle anger and hurt feelings can make a child more acceptable and admired among peers, family members and the society.
Small children need time to realize their behavioral outcomes and effects on their own lives and that of others. Your 4 year old screaming or hitting to get his/her job done needs to be calmed down first. Spanking may not be the best tool here although it may (sometimes) temporarily reduce the child’s stamina for brief calmness. Penalizing a child may help when he/she is grown up and able to understand the reason behind the carrot and stick policy.
Otherwise, it can just become a reason for dislike and mistrust for your child. With time, your child will learn that there are better ways of getting a job done (or request granted) than screaming and yelling. Anger management is not an overnight procedure. Sometimes, a 4 year old’s behavior can be out of ordinary and uncontrollable. You can think of consulting a psychologist or an expert for evaluating your child’s behavior.
A Helpful Technique
A University of Colorado (Denver) handout points out that Cognitive behavioral intervention (CBI) strategies can enable children to control anger and deal with disappointment. Cognitive behavioral intervention aims at teaching strategies which reduce inappropriate behavior and guide performance.
The ‘turtle technique’ is a CBI strategy which has been into usage with preschool and kindergarten children. The technique, which was basically meant to teach anger management in adults, has been implemented with small children.
The technique has three important steps – recognizing that you are angry, going into your ‘shell’ and taking deep breaths for calming and coming out of the ‘shell’ for resolving the issue. Additional teaching strategies can be implemented along with the turtle technique to make the child better equipped at handing anger. This technique essentially wants the child to share a trustworthy relationship with his/her educator.
The turtle technique can be taught to young children by depiction through a turtle puppet. Real life depiction can create a lasting impression on a child’s mind and this technique can deliver such lessons for young minds. The repetitive message that a child is capable of controlling his/her anger can impact his/her mind.
Children need a lot of comfort and affection. Show your love and care through gestures. Appreciate your child when he/she listens to you (or at least tries to). Applaud the child when he/she tries to adopt measures for controlling anger. This will motivate his/her efforts to ultimately emerge successful in controlling emotions for the betterment of personality.