Anger management for children is a means of helping children recognize when they are angry, and control their angry feelings for a favorable resolution to the situation. Young children often don't recognize the physical symptoms of anger, such as accelerated heart rate, rapid breathing, feelings of physical warmth, and muscle tension. Children typically also don't have any coping strategies to help them cool down and approach frustrating situations calmly. Anger management for children can help children learn coping strategies for dealing with anger, such as taking deep breaths, doing a few minutes of strenuous physical exercise, or distracting themselves with a pleasant activity. Children who learn anger management skills are generally less likely to demonstrate behavior problems in childhood and adolescence, and are usually more likely to grow into well-adjusted, happy adults capable of healthy relationships.
The principles of anger management for children are often very similar to the principles of anger management for adults. Children, however, often need the help of caregivers to recognize angry feelings for what they are. Caregivers can often help by pointing out to children when they are displaying behaviors symptomatic of angry feelings. When children are older, caregivers can explain the physical symptoms of anger so that children can learn to recognize them as they arise.
Expressing feelings can be an important part of anger management for children, but children often have a hard time expressing their feelings verbally. Many caregivers have successfully helped children express themselves through drawing, painting, or other forms of creative expression. Children who are struggling to control angry feelings can be asked to take several deep, slow breaths and count to ten or higher. Children who are experiencing feelings of anger and frustration while struggling with a difficult task can be encouraged to seek help or emotional support from a caregiver or other capable, trustworthy person.
Many children will benefit from physical activities that help them burn off the muscle tension and adrenalin rush that often accompanies angry feelings. Bike rides, short runs, punching a punching bag, or engaging in a pillow fight can all help children burn off this excess adrenalin, and can often restore feelings of happiness and calm.
Young children especially can be prone to act out angry feelings violently. Caregivers should generally be ready to step in and separate fighting children. Allowing physical space between fighting children can help the children begin to calm down. Caregivers can firmly, but gently, assert their authority to stop fights when children act out violently towards one another.
Most experts believe that anger management for children should begin as early as possible in life. When infants throw temper tantrums, experts typically suggest leaving them to it in a child-safe area if possible, or calming them with a long hug if the episode occurs in public. The sooner children learn anger management techniques, experts believe, the less likely they are to demonstrate behavior problems throughout life.