It is not unusual for a child to get upset or angry, but when does this anger begin to represent a problem? The first step a parent or guardian can take is to seek help from a professional counselor. A certified psychologist can help the parents and child, often more quickly, with identifying the source of the anger, and the child will feel like they have been heard in a supportive environment, free of judgment or predisposition.
Many parents are afraid to seek help because they are afraid of being seen as bad parents who cannot control their child. Parents are also hesitant to have their child labeled and fear medical intervention will be the only answer.
However, professional help can “clean the slate,” and be a way to bridge much of the misunderstanding that compiles when dealing with an angry and upset child over a period of time. The longer the anger is allowed to fester the harder it will be to remedy.
Identifying the cause
The first step to helping a child with anger issues is to identify the “root” cause of anger. This is not necessary when the anger is made visible.
For example, a child may be angry at the custody arrangement made among siblings during a recent divorce, and every time the child sees its siblings, he/she hits them and breaks their toys. The child isn’t really mad at his/her sister or brother, but the child is angry that he/she isn’t getting the same amount of time and attention from the parents as his/her siblings do. Knowing the root cause can help resolve an anger issue quickly and directly.
Creating a plan
A certified counselor can help the parents and child put in place a plan based on their individual circumstances and arrangements. Having a plan that will work based upon the needs of the child and family is critical. It has to be clear, fully outlined, without bias and judgment, and it has to be followed fully. One of the biggest mistakes made by parents is the lack of follow-through with a plan because of time or emotions.
Another advantage of seeking counseling is that the parents have a direct source of support when times become challenging or perhaps the plan needs some further adjustment. A good plan avoids the taking of “sides,” it focuses on the needs of the child; this is not a time to “spoil” the situation which would only positively reward inappropriate behaviors.
Parents who are following a certified plan need to be consistent at all times. Children are very quick to see weakness and inconsistencies, especially when dealing with a separation or divorce; they learn when to hold and play their cards to get what they need emotionally.
Children also respect consistency and find comfort in things they can rely on, even things they don’t like. A child will be less upset knowing he/she has planned time with the dad, even if he/she doesn’t get to see him all week, the child has something to look forward to, something to rely on that the parents must follow-through on.
Consistency works, but it also takes time. This is something parents have to be prepared for while being aware of the importance of sticking to the plan in good and bad times, no matter what. A solid plan may also incorporate the child’s school, teachers, and extended family.
If you need more information about how to deal with a child with anger management issues, are interested to learn about anger management activities for kids, or have questions about similar topics, get in touch with Dr. Marsha Ferrick, today!