Monday, September 26, 2011

Helping Kids Express Anger

Adoption and anger often go hand-in-hand, so I thought folks might be interested in this article at  Psychology Today about helping kids express this most socially-unacceptable emotion:
Adults often struggle with effectively communicating their angry feelings. For children, this challenge is doubly difficult; kids don't want to get in trouble for expressing themselves aggressively, but they often lack the skills for communicating assertively.

Parents can help their kids develop specific skills for assertive anger expression, beginning with these three primers:

1. Acknowledge that Anger is OK
From the time they are toddlers, children are often coaxed to deny or quickly dispense of their feelings of anger. Well-intentioned messages like, "Don't be angry" give kids the message that this most basic of human emotions is something to feel badly about or guilty over. 

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Rather than hammering away at all of the things kids should not do when it comes to expressing their anger, it is most helpful for parents to show empathy for their child's emotions experiences and to acknowledge that anger is okay. 

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2. Talk it Out
True emotional intelligence and self-control has everything to do with learning how to put feelings into words. You can help your child cope with often-overwhelming feelings by consistently encouraging him to talk about them.

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3. Be Willing to Receive Anger
A final key in helping your child learn to accept and manage anger well is to be willing to receive your child's anger. For parents, it can be quite difficult to be on the receiving end of anger-especially when you are not its rightful target. Nonetheless, when adults demonstrate for kids that they are willing to listen to their respectfully-expressed anger, they send the powerful message that the child's feelings are valid and that assertive anger will be rewarded with the gift of a listening ear and non-punitive response.

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