Oftentimes, teaching a child who is too young to fully understand or communicate their emotions to control their anger is a difficult process. This is especially true when dealing with children who are struggling with emotional dysregulation. In addition to therapy, there are steps you can take in the home to help a child learn to regulate his or her anger in a healthy manner.
Younger children often respond well to clear guidelines, step-by-step instructions, and consistent behavioral expectations. Sit down with your child and discuss ways to calm down during a tantrum and make it clear in a language they will understand how they are expected to act when they don’t get their way. It’s also important to model this behavior for your child. In moments when you yourself are feeling angry or emotionally overwhelmed, take the time to demonstrate to your child how you can remain calm and take control of those feelings.
Once clear guidelines have been established, having a way for your child to watch their progress is helpful in reinforcing positive behavior. Consider creating a chart that maps your child’s anger management, reminding them of when they overcame anger, as well as when they did not. Consequences for temper tantrums should be established before the tantrum occurs and should encourage reflection rather than shame. A time-out followed by a talk, for example, is a good way to turn a negative reaction into a learning experience. For children being treated for emotional dysregulation, take this time to remind them of and help them engage with the coping skills they are taught during therapy sessions.
It is important for children learning to regulate emotions to have an outlet for their emotional energy, as well as a way to communicate their feelings. For some children, this may look like engaging in physical activity such as running or jumping jacks to wear off the adrenaline that comes with anger in a safe and healthy way. For others, this could mean journaling, drawing, or just discussing their emotions in a safe and encouraging environment.
The anger-management skills that your child learns now will follow them for the rest of their lives, and teaching them to regulate emotions in a healthy way is crucial to helping them grow to their full potential. Read more about helping young children cope with anger at:
If your child is struggling with emotional dysregulation and is in need of professional therapeutic care, we at Casa Pacifica may be able to help. We offer a variety of programs tailored to your family’s needs, including both residential and outpatient options. Explore our different programs today and find the one that’s right for your child at: https://www.casapacifica.org/.