Overcoming anger issues in toddlers

Helping Toddlers to Manage Anger

Anger is a normal feeling in toddlers. But it can have undesirable consequences if not addressed correctly. Find out the reasons of anger in toddlers, and how to help them overcome anger issues.

Anger is a common behavioural problem during toddlerhood. While it can be challenging for parents to deal with anger issues in toddlers, understanding what makes them angry and counselling them at the right time can help them build anger management skills.

What Is Anger?

Anger in toddlers is the result of feeling disturbed, disappointed or anxious over an unpleasant situation and their inability to cope with these feelings. Angry feelings, if not dealt appropriately, may further trigger aggressive behaviour among toddlers, instigating them to cause harm to a person or property.

What Causes Anger in Toddlers?

Anger issues in toddlers can be attributed to any of the following reasons:

  • To achieve the desired goal
  • Lack of adequate and positive attention, especially from parents ||
  • Physical attack such as hitting or pushing
  • Verbal harassment such as being mocked or criticized
  • Feeling rejected or isolated from friends or family
  • Feeling helpless in meeting expectations set by others
  • Unwillingness to comply with disciplinary rules
  • Lack of good sleep
  • Listening to “no” for a request
  • Feeling sick, tired or hungry
  • Changes in the social environment such as, arrival of a new baby, death of a family member or moving to a new house
  • Invasion into privacy or rights over a property such as toys

What Causes Anger in Toddlers?

How Do Toddlers Express Anger?

Every child has a different way of expressing his or her anger. Angry toddlers may cry, sulk, become silent, get moody, throw tantrums or stop talking. Some may start shouting aggressively or even use physical assault to vent out their feelings. A few others may simply tell their parents or other adult supervisors why they are angry and indirectly seek comfort or advice on tackling the situation.

How Can Anger Affect Toddlers’ Health?

Anger can have adverse effects on the overall well-being of toddlers. It can cause sleep issues, grumpiness, headaches, body pains, low self-confidence and several other behavioural problems. Hence, it is quite essential that children are allowed to vent their anger, albeit in the right and safe manner.

How to Help Toddlers Manage Their Anger?

The children themselves may not understand what is making them angry and which anger management skills can help them cope with the situation. However, waiting for the toddlers to calm down and then talking through angry feelings can be an effective way to channelize their aggression constructively. Here are a few strategies to facilitate toddlers respond to their anger outbursts.

  • Acknowledge that your child is angry and give him an opportunity to explain the reason. Ask him, whether he is a little angry or very angry
  • Listen calmly to the reasons and feelings of anger, without interrupting or judging
  • In case you are unable to understand what the toddler is conveying, politely ask him to slow down and explain the situation again
  • Use the conversation as an opportunity to discuss with toddlers how the problem can be solved and what can be done to make them feel good again. Let them make suggestions
  • Explain to the toddlers what is considered the right way to deal with anger and set acceptable limits for an inappropriate behaviour. For example, whenever they are angry, they should take a deep breath and count to ten instead of shouting. Tell them that if they throw a tantrum, their weekend outing may get cancelled
  • Give them a comforting hug or verbal assurance that you are there to support them through their anger
  • Praise their efforts and positive behaviour in managing anger

Safe and Creative Ways to Manage Anger

You can also help your toddlers vent their angry feelings using following ways:

  • Read books and tell them stories about anger
  • Ask them to squeeze a ball or cushion as powerfully as they can
  • Persuade them to listen to the music, dance to their favourite beats or run round the garden
  • Give them crayons or paint, and ask them to draw what they are feeling. Play–dough is also a good option
  • Let them scream their heart out using a punch bag or a pillow
  • Fill up a water balloon and throw it against the floor or wall outside the house

It is not so difficult to handle anger issues in toddlers, as long as you can help them. Talk about their feelings and provide them support to deal with it.

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