"I'm ANGRY, ANGRY, ANGRY", my two year old niece exclaimed. "I'm MAD, MAD, MAD!" She was mad because she wanted to play in the milk she had spilled and her mom wouldn't let her. She was voicing her emotions, putting words to what she was feeling. It is a great thing to teach your child and is a big step in the development of healthy social emotional skills. Anger is common emotion for young children and it can be a BIG feeling. How can you support your little person through anger?
- Don't laugh! Even though it can be funny to watch, your child's anger means something to her. It is important to honor that feeling and put a voice to it. I can see you are feeling very angry. Is it because you wanted to play in your milk? You can't do that, but guess what you can do? Draw with your new markers!
- Recognize and name feelings. I saw that Evan was feeling angry when John took his toy. He hit John! I wonder what he could have done instead of hitting? Hitting is never a good thing - it hurts!
- Practice breathing. Deep breathing can calm and distract the angriest of children. Practice breathing deeply in and out five times. Count to five on one hand as you are breathing. At the end, ask how your child is feeling. If she is still angry, breathe five more times. Some children enjoy pretending to blow out a candle on each finger.
- Watch for physical issues. Is your child hungry or tired? A drop in blood sugar or a late night can make anyone angry. Give your child the latitude you would give a tired and hungry friend ( and get a snack- quick!)
- Give your child space. Sometimes people need to work though their angry feelings on their own. If your child wants alone time, respect that. When she has worked though her anger, there is no need to rehash it but you could validate and congratulate. You were feeling angry and I noticed that you took a break and felt better. That was a really good way to solve the problem!
If you do nothing else, honor your child's feelings and empathize with whatever caused the anger. Just because an adult wouldn't want to play in spilled milk doesn't mean it wouldn't have been awesome (still doesn't mean you can do it...). Try to see it from her point of view. Above all, move towards helping your child work through her anger. It will be a life long skill.
Let Them Fly!