Kids are not typically good at regulating their emotions, and they get overwhelmed sometimes with those feelings. We do too as adults. But kids feel this in a more intense way. When they feel something, they feel it hard, and it overwhelms them. It can just take over their little minds and bodies, until they start to mature emotionally, they have a really hard time regulating that.
So, they'll be tipped over at things that you think are silly or insufficient to warrant that kind of a response. Just keep that in mind because an understanding of child development will help you to have a little more compassion and understanding. It'll give you a little more patience as you're working with your child so given that they have a hard time regulating their emotion, what are we going to do to help them to manage their anger?
Let's talk about four specific tips of things that you can do.
Number 1, don't be intimidated by your child's anger. Remember what I just said. Kids don't have the regulation ability over their emotion that we have as adults. So, they are going to get tipped over. I have heard a lot of parents say, “Well, I try to set a limit, he just gets so mad and he starts screaming and yelling and…” Yeah, because he's a kid who can't regulate his emotion. Don't be intimidated by that. You still need to set the limits, and your kids don't have to like it.
I remember when my kids were little. I used to say that exact thing to them. They would say, “I hate this dad.” I responded, “That's okay. You don't have to like it.” Now, that can sound almost sarcastic, but this is the idea that I want you to internalize as a parent. They don't have to like it. It's not your job to please them
What's your job? Love them no matter what and even if… That's your job. And as a loving parent, you want to set appropriate limits. You need two things to have authority with your children.
You need to be seen as a provider of good times and good things and you have to be able to set and enforce appropriate limits. Both of those things. Setting and enforcing limits are typically not popular and it causes kids to feel some anger sometimes if they don't like the limit that you've set. That's okay, roll with it.
Don't be intimidated or held hostage by the fact that your child is not going to like the limit that you are setting. Desensitize yourself to that a little bit so that you can set the limit anyway. And don't be intimidated by your child's anger. That's tip number 1.
Tip number 2 comes back to your role as a model for your children. We have to show them what it is that we expect. Now, if you are yelling and screaming, if you are blowing your top then you are modeling for them exactly the thing that you don't want them to do.
Tip number 2 is that you've got to remain calm and in control of your own emotions.
This is easier said than done, I know.
There are 2 levels of learning something. There's the breakthrough where it's like, “Oh! I get it.” You know, the “AHA” experience where the lights just go on and it's like, “Oh, yes. That's it.” Okay, that's the breakthrough.
And then there's the transformation which is a process that has several different steps and it has to be sustained over time. It's kind of like when you decide you want to play the piano and you're like, “Yes, I'm going to play the piano. And then you have to go through a process of practicing and getting the skill set installed.” It's no different for us or for our kids. The transformation that happens over time is something you might need a little assistance with. That's fine. That's why we've set up coaching programs and courses for parents like you.
Now, staying calm gives you an opportunity to model for your child what you are expecting from them. Here's one of the phrases I like to use. “When you can talk to me like I'm talking to you, we'll talk about this, we'll resolve this.” Now, notice what that implies. You are talking in a calm loving way.
I hate to burst your bubble around this topic, but you know what? You just don't control your child’s reaction. You've been wanting to control their reaction to things, their anger, their little rage fits. But you don't. If you controlled it, it wouldn't be happening.
And instead of demanding that they stop, simply put parameters around where this is going to happen. Now, the size of your child is going to make a difference here. If we are talking about your 15-year old husky boy or your 4-year old little girl, we are going to have a little difference in how we can control the parameters around where this occurs.
If your 4-year old is having a little fit or a temper tantrum, you can physically move that child to a room where the door could be closed until they calm down, until they can talk to you the way you are talking to them. You can move away from a 15-year old.
Again, this implies that you remain calm – extremely important for you as a parent to remain calm. In fact, I would strongly encourage you to get yourself calm before you try to interact with your child who may or may not be calm. They are probably not if you are reading this article. So, put some parameters on where that can happen. “Sweetie, you can have this meltdown in your room.” You are calm about doing that, but you can also enforce it. Meaning, you can get them to the room and you can contain that tantrum that's going on.
And then after the storm passes, in fact, think about that for just a minute. A storm. If I'm sitting here in my office and I notice the storm clouds gathering outside and I hear the thunder and I see the rain starting to fall and I realize, “Oh, yeah. I left my windows on my car.” I go outside and I close the windows, right? I don't shake my fists to the heavens saying, “Don't start with me.” I don't control the storm. I'm going to weather the storm.
When we are managing kids’ anger, we don't get to control the anger. We can control the windows and batten down the hatches. Hunker down for the storm. Guess what? Storms always pass, don't they? I've got some friends in northern Florida, hurricane came through a couple of years ago. Just devastated the whole town. Can you stop the storm? No. But storms always pass. You hunker down, you batten down the hatches and when the storm passes then we start to clean up. Sometimes, it's like that with our kids.
Don't insist that they stop. Just try to put some parameters or some containment around it until the storm passes.
Now, here's a final tip and this is a powerful one. Not just for this aspect of parenting but for a lot of other applications that you are going to see pretty quickly. Create a context or a time and place in which you can instruct and educate your kids when they are calm.
Create a context, a time and a place in which you can do the instruction and the education. I recommend that you pick a day each week where you have a family meeting. Now, different people call this meeting different things, family meeting, family council, family together time, family home evening. Whatever you want to call it. It's a consistent time every week and I would suggest you do this on a weekly basis.
This particular meeting that I'm talking about is one where you can bring up a particular topic, like anger for example. And while everybody's calm you can talk about, “What do we do with anger?” This is going to feel really awkward if it's not a consistent thing. Like if we just call a meeting to talk about anger. Everybody's going to be like, “Well, this is weird.” But if it's in a consistent format that you've installed it's part of your family culture and you can bring up any topic you want. This week we're talking about anger. Do you feel the power of that? And next week what are you going to talk about? You could talk about manners. You could talk about sexuality. You could talk about school. Whatever it is, you've just created a context or an environment in which you can instruct and educate your kids.
This is not a reaction, it’s you taking action. It's something you're going to do to establish a family culture where you as a parent can have a more profound influence on your kids.
Parenting. I know. Who would thunk that it could be such a challenging thing, but you are not in this alone. We've got your back. We've got courses, we've got coaching. If you want to take this to the next level, jump on a call with one of our coaches by scheduling a call at drpauljenkins.com/breakthroughcall. One of our coaches is ready to meet with you and talk about what we are offering that might be a fit. I am honored to be on your team.