Dealing with an angry child can be challenging for any parent, but it can be especially challenging if you had visions of a perfect little angel with a sweet smile, kind demeanor and happy-go-lucky attitude. No one expects to become the parent of an angry child, but it happens. While you might feel more frustration than happiness with her anger, it doesn’t mean that you love her any less. It merely means that you have to love her differently.
Show love to your angry child by not labeling the child herself as angry or bad, but rather her actions and her behaviors, advises Peggy O. Harrelson, a child development extension specialist with Virginia State University. For example, the next time your angry child throws a temper tantrum say, “Your behavior is bad,” rather than, “You are so bad!” It helps your child remember that you love her, you just don’t love her bad behavior.
Listen to your child. According to the Ask Dr. Sears website, loving your child means listening to what he has to say and acknowledging his feelings, even if they are angry feelings. When you listen to him, he is able to express his anger without fear of judgment or punishment, which can help him overcome those feelings of anger.
Set a good example of how to appropriately express anger, advises Harrelson. Really loving an angry child means helping her learn to express her anger in a productive manner, by using her words rather than her actions. If you do the same, she is more likely to learn to express her anger in an appropriate manner.
Laugh with your angry child, advises Ask Dr. Sears. Showing your child that not every mistake or accident is worthy of anger can help him feel loved and accepted. For example, the next time you forget something at the grocery store, laugh it off, wink and tell your child that you totally forgot it on purpose so that you could go back to the store and get another cookie from the lady at the bakery. It helps him understand that while anger is fine when it’s warranted, it’s not the only way to react to a mistake and life isn’t meant to be taken seriously at all times.
Praise your child when her behavior warrants it, advises Harrelson. When you take special notice of her good behavior, it helps to remind you that she is a good kid, despite her anger, and it helps to remind her that life is good. For example, the next time your often angry little girl offers her favorite doll to a friend to play with, tell her how proud you are that she shared her special toy.