Anger and frustration are among the most common emotions that kids feel in any given day. Kids can become angry and frustrated when they don’t get their way, or when their efforts fall short of accomplishing a task. When a child feels neglected, he may also feel angry and frustrated because he feels that his efforts in getting attention are not enough. These triggers are different for each child and it’s important that you know how to handle these situations because although anger and frustration are negative emotions, they teach a child crucial life lessons.
1. Let your child cry it out sometimes. While it is our nature to comfort our kids when they feel sad or angry, at times it will help them more if we allow them to process those emotions themselves. Anger and frustration teach kids why some things aren’t always what they like them to be. When you are always there to comfort and pamper your child when he’s dealing with negative emotions, he may already expect you to make him feel better each and every time. Give him the opportunity to learn how to adapt so that he will learn how to snap out of life’s many challenges. But when your child becomes aggressive, never hesitate to intervene. Just hold him and keep him secure until he calms down.
2. Respond positively. Don’t mirror your child’s frustrations with your own because it will only make things worse. No matter how exasperating the situation is, keep your cool and deal with it calmly. At the height of your child’s emotional outburst, do not lecture, or impart life lessons because it is impossible for your child to process your teachings at this time. Find what works for your child by diverting his attention elsewhere or by taking him out of that stressful situation. What works for many may not work for your child, so find a strategy that works so you can channel negative energies elsewhere.
When my daughter cries inconsolably due to frustration, I don’t usually dig deep into her wounds by asking her what’s wrong and why she should not be acting that way. Instead, I divert her attention to another activity so she can temporarily forget her outburst. When she is already engrossed and happy with another activity, it is when I explore her thoughts and impart teachings.
3. Set the right example. Frustration is a part of life and your kids need to view it not as a setback but a reason to try harder. Show them that despite failing at a particular task, it is not a reason for them to give up. When your child’s attempts at finishing a task are futile, encourage him to try different ways until he can eventually complete a task. You may guide him along but never finish his tasks for him so that he will learn.
Show your child that there are acceptable ways in expressing anger. Teach him to express his anger in words so that you can help him deal with these emotions. If you resort to door banging and other hostile behavior, don’t be surprised if you see your child do the same thing the next time he’s angry. I have effectively taught my daughter to write me notes when she’s angry. At times, I am the recipient of notes that said, “I hate you mom forever!”. I don’t let the words linger in my heart because they are instead welcome signs that she is nearing the end of her emotional outburst.
4. Minimize triggers. If you can identify what easily frustrates your child, you can lessen the chance of him getting angry and frustrated all the time. When my daughter started preschool, she didn’t like to be rushed each morning so we always woke her up earlier so she can take her time when eating and dressing up. If not for that extra time each morning, I think we’d have a really difficult start each school day.
5. Show consistency. If you impose a rule and your child reacts in anger or frustration, do not bend your own limits. If you do, you may frequently find yourself in compromising situations because your child will always expect you to say YES to his every request. Learning to say NO is difficult but it must be learned because in life, we don’t always get our way all the time. If your child is able to accept and deal with these feelings, you are helping him realize that despite life’s many twists and turns, there’s a rainbow at the end of the storm.