As much as we might try to avoid it, everyone experiences anger. It’s a normal reaction to frustration, stress and disappointment – for adults and children. Even three or four-month-old babies can experience anger, but it’s most noticeable in tantrum-throwing toddlers who often seem to time their outbursts with family outings to public places (packed restaurant or shopping centre, anyone?).
Not all anger is bad. It can help us to tell another person to stop what they are doing as it is causing harm to us, and it can motivate us to overcome problems. If you’ve ever been told by a colleague or family member that you lack the skills to master a task, you’ll know what anger can help you achieve.
Research shows that children feel angry when they believe that the negative situation they are concerned about can or should be changed. Some of the most common include children not being allowed to have something they want and being excluded from social games or rejected by other kids.
Physical aggression in children is most common at the age of two and by the time they start school, most children have learned that getting aggressive when angry is not considered appropriate behaviour. They will have likely learned some positive coping strategies to help deal with feelings of anger such as counting to 10 or asking an adult for help.
The key to managing anger is helping children to recognise when they feel angry. Parents and carers cen tell when children are angry by the way they look or speak, and the tension in their bodies. You can help your child to recognise anger signals such as:
- A red face
- Fast breathing
- Increased heart rate
You may like to read further about supporting children to manage their anger.