Tuesday, April 14, 2015


We often give children the message that being angry is bad.  Parents will say, “Don’t be upset” or “You shouldn't get mad over that.” Minimizing their feelings may also make the child doubt his own feelings or increase the anger.  Saying “It’s no big deal.” or “Don’t be such a baby.” will not solve the problem. Asking a child “Why are you so angry?” may  result in the child shutting down or making up a reason.  They may not really understand why they feel that way.
So how can parents help the child deal with situations that provoke anger, hurt and sadness?  All of these skills are most effective when modeled by the parents rather than talked about.
1.       Make sure the child understands that being angry is a normal emotion. Everyone feels angry at times.
2.      Show empathy and recognize the child’s feelings.  You might say: “Wow, you sure look upset.” or “You sound angry.”  Let the child respond without asking questions. 
3.       Identify inappropriate responses to anger:  name calling, physical aggression or any sort of violence, threatening, attempting to alienate friends.
4.      Show appropriate ways to deal with anger: telling the person that you are angry and why, writing about it, physical exercise, meditating, drawing a picture, hitting a pillow or other inanimate object.
5.      Be sure child sees adults using these techniques as they verbalize what they are doing.  This is not done directly to the child but within his hearing. For example: “It makes me angry when a friend forgets to meet me for lunch.  I waited a long time.  I am going to call her and tell her how upset I am and ask her to please call me if she can’t meet me.  But first I am going to take a walk around the block and calm down so I can help her to understand.”
6.      Remember we cannot take away inappropriate responses to anger without teaching more effective tools.  Then the anger is just suppressed and become worse.


.How to Engage Cooperation

Using language that helps the child to feel independent and does not set up power struggles between the adult and child will result in more cooperation and good will.  This way of addressing the child may feel awkward at first, but with practice will become more comfortable.

Tone of voice is very important.  Use a soft, but firm voice, stoop down and make eye contact with the child, and don’t forget to smile! 

All of these methods work.  Choose the one that best suits the situation.  Notice the use of “we” instead of “you” whenever possible.  This is a cooperative mode rather than a corrective one. 

When we would like a child to do something:

  • Would you show me how to hang up a coat?
  • How do we put our chairs under the table?
  • I wonder if you can close that door so quietly I can’t hear a sound?
  • I think you know how to carry the milk carefully.  Would you show me?
  • Where do books belong?
  • Do you think you could put all the toys away in 5 minutes?

Make a statement that is not accusatory but describes what you see:

  • I see paper on the floor. 
  • There is a coat on the chair.
  • Water got spilled.
  • Books are not on the shelf.
  • I see two boys yelling at each other.

State the rule:

  • In the house we walk.
  • In our house we never hit or hurt anyone.
  • We solve our problems without fighting.
  • We use quiet voices inside.
  • Toys belong on the shelves.
  • Trash belongs in the trash can.
  • Books belong on the shelf.
  • We wash our hands before we eat.

Using this method avoids negative statements (Don’t put paper on the floor.) and commands (Wash your hands.).  Negative statements and commands create resistance.  Remember, the task of the child is to become independent.  Commands and negative comments reinforce the child’s dependence on adults.  Positive statements assume the child is capable and reinforce the child’s feelings of competence.

If the child still resists after using these methods it can be helpful to ask: Can you do this by yourself or do you need help?

Only use this route if it is imperative to get the job done.

Depending on the child and the situation, sometimes you can create an atmosphere of trust and cooperation by stating something like this:
“I will be happy to help you.  I know how to pick up toys.”  This gentle approach will often result in the child saying she will help you!

·         Avoid power struggles
·         Expect the child to cooperate
·         Use a calm, quiet voice
·         Be firm but kind
·         Smile as often as possible
·         Be joyful in your tasks and the child will be joyful in hers
·         Never ask a child why they did or did not do something.  They usually have no idea.

Most problems can be avoided by dedication to consistency, lots of gentle lessons on how to do things, making sure the home is set us to foster independence, and most of all, providing the child with developmentally appropriate, real activities that engage the mind and body and encourage communication skills.

Remember..have fun and enjoy your family!