It is very challenging to deal with a child who is having angry outburst. Your first priority if your child is in a full 'melt down' and being aggressively violent is to ensure your own safety and that of anyone else around you. Backing off and avoiding escalating the situation is the priority unless you need to protect others or property. It is important to remember that children rarely hurt themselves during anger outbursts. Any consequences are best left until the child is more calm.
Try to avoid becoming angry yourself. It is important that you don't mirror their angry behaviour as this only escalates the situation. Modelling calm behaviour helps your child to more quickly self-regulate.
Managing anger is best done before your child gets angry. Being able to identify early warning signs and possible triggers is really important. Monitoring how your child is feeling using a rating scale can sometimes help. It also enables them to communicate how they are feeling without needing to verbalise.
Use I statements to describe the signs of them getting angry E.g.
‘I can see that you are getting upset with me. Let’s take a break.’
This is important in helping your child to be more able to recognise their emotions. It also gives them the emotional vocabulary to be better able to discuss how they feel with you.
Keep a diary
Keeping a diary of episodes can be useful in finding patterns and reasons for their anger. Identified triggers can then be avoided or where appropriate managed.
Time to calm
It takes time for the feelings of anger to dissipate. This is because of a cocktail of stress hormones that have been released during the anger. It can take anything from a few minutes to a few hours for child to return to total calmness. It is therefore important to give your child the time and space they need to calm down fully. Discussions about behaviour and any sanctions are best done when the child is appropriately calm. If appropriate, when the child has calmed down a little, they may need to do a calming activity to reduce their emotional level further.
Emotion Yes, Behaviour No,
Feeling angry is a totally healthy and normal emotion to experience from time to time – it is how we deal with our anger that is either appropriate or inappropriate. Avoid labelling your child's anger as bad. and instead concentrate on their inappropriate expression of anger as being undesirable e.g. hurting others and damaging property
Depending on the expression of their anger it can sometimes be possible to try and distract them from their anger. Directing their attention towards something else, particularly something new, can help take their focus away from the problem causing difficulty.
A social story can be used to explore an anxious or stressful event and help the child to learn appropriate strategies to remain calm. You may be interested in the hundreds of social story examples available.