Are You Concerned About Your Child's Anger?
Most kids get angry at times. Anger is a natural reaction when life seems difficult or unfair, or when a child is frustrated about things beyond their control and doesn’t yet have the skills to handle their emotions.
When a child consistently struggles with anger and irritability, there can be multiple factors that contribute to their behavior. Some children throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want or don’t feel like doing something they are asked to do. Others have meltdowns when they are distressed by something in their environment. In some cases, anger issues can be caused by mental health conditions such as ADHD, autism, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Kids who have a tough time with anger, aggression, and irritability often feel out of control and bad about themselves. As a parent, it is natural to want to help relieve your child’s distress. The key to helping is to find out what’s triggering your child’s behavior.
Through our work with children and families, we have found that one of the key reasons why kids act out is that they are imitating their parents’ behavior. You are probably well aware of your child’s uncanny ability to see, hear, and remember everything that goes on in their world. When they see you respond to a situation with anger, they may simply repeat the pattern.
It is important to be aware of how you behave when things do not go your way, as well as how you communicate with your child. Do you handle situations in a calm way or do you let your frustration get the better of you? To be a positive role model for your child, you must work to keep your own emotions in check.
Many times, we find that difficulty controlling their emotions and behavior is a sign that a child has one or more mental health conditions or learning issues. Common causes include:
ADHD: Children with ADHD often have trouble controlling their behavior. Their inability to focus and complete tasks, follow instructions, or switch from one activity to another can lead to defiance, arguments, or tantrums.
Sensory Processing Issues: If your child is oversensitive or hyposensitive to stimulation, things like rough clothing and too much noise can make them uncomfortable, anxious, or overwhelmed. This can result in meltdowns that seem to happen for no reason.
Autism: Because children on the autism spectrum often need consistent routine to feel safe, an unexpected change in routine can trigger an outburst. They may also have sensory processing issues like those described above, and lack the communication skills to express what they want or need.
Learning Problems: Does your child act out repeatedly at school or when doing homework? It may be a sign that they have a learning disorder. Frustrated by their inability to understand concepts or retain information, they may balk at an assignment or lash out at a classmate rather than admit there’s a problem and ask for help.
Anxiety: If your child is suffering from anxiety, they may have a hard time coping with situations that cause them distress. For example, if they cannot handle increased pressure at school, they may have a temper tantrum or refuse to do what a teacher asks in order to avoid the cause of the anxiety.
In addition, a child who exhibits extreme anger or intimidating behavior may be feeling unsafe or threatened due to trauma that he or she has experienced.
Most parents find themselves wondering what to do about their child’s tantrums and angry behavior. Understanding what’s behind the intense emotions and outbursts can help you respond in the best way possible. Problems can improve as kids mature and learn to express what they’re feeling. If disruptive behaviors continue as your child gets older, you may benefit from working with a mental health professional and consider family counseling. We specialize in working with all family members. We also have a mental health specialist on staff who only works with children and young adults.
At The Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, New Jersey we are offering zoom, FaceTime and phone sessions. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or finding out more about the services offered at Hellenic Therapy Center, please call or text us at (908) 451-3452 or visit us on Facebook.