This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid on Mar 9, 2017
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Question: My son is angry all the time. He has friends, makes good grades and doesn’t seem to have a worry in the world but he is always angry. He has been raising his voice a lot and recently was sent home from school for pushing another boy. We have tried grounding him, taking away screens and deducting his allowance as consequences. It doesn’t seem to help. How can we help him better cope with his emotions?
Answer: Sometimes being a kid is tough. It is important to remember that anger is one of our primary emotions. Everyone experiences anger. Learning to express it in healthy ways is better for all of us. This is a great opportunity to help your son learn a skill that will serve him all his life. Explore with him the emotions that are underlying his expression of anger. A question you may ask him after he has calmed down is, “I noticed you were really angry today. Is something happening at home or at school that is upsetting you?” Remind him that he can always talk with you about things that trouble him. Perhaps he is experiencing being bullied or ridiculed at school, causing him to lash out. Maybe he feels he is not being listened to, or is being treated unfairly. His perceptions may even be wrong, but his need to talk about them is real. You can help your son learn to express his anger by saying, “I feel angry when you….” This can diffuse a situation. Seeing our kid’s anger is tough for parents. Sometimes we yell back, sometimes we give in, and sometimes we don’t do anything. The most important thing to do is to not let it go. Even if you wait until the dust settles, go back and talk about it. As parents, we have to remember that we model how anger is expressed, or not expressed. Kids learn from how we cope. You must model that it is never okay to physically attack another in anger, and to always to apologize when we hurt another’s feelings with our anger. Counseling could be helpful if the outbursts continue. You son could learn some coping skills and how to speak up for himself.
Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS is a professional counselor and the Outpatient Therapy Director at Health Affiliates Maine, a mental health and substance abuse treatment agency serving adults, adolescents, children and families. For more information or if you or someone you know needs help, call us at 877-888-4304 or visit our website www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com and click on “Referrals.”