There are moments where the frustration and anger are overwhelming. It comes on like a fierce rage and overtakes the senses making it impossible to hear reason and calming voices. The thoughts are in her head but she’s too upset to get them out in the form of words.
At least that’s how she explains it to me.
One of our daughters has a really hard time processing emotions. It’s almost like she can’t or doesn’t want to admit what she is feeling. Screaming begins and is followed by a slam of a door and a strong desire to be alone.
Although we’ve worked over the years with ways to calm down, she still has these tantrums. I almost hate calling them tantrums, but they’re really just big kid tantrums now. While she’s in the middle of it she always asks to be alone. Because I’m her mom, I tend to want to push in and comfort her. It was hard for me at first – separating what I naturally felt inclined to do and what she needed me to do.
Being her parent isn’t about doing what I would have wanted done for me. It’s about doing what she needs so that she can be her best self.
One of the ways I do this is by giving her the space she needs as she processes these big emotions.
We allow her to go to her room. She can come out whenever she’s ready. If she wants us to come in, she places an elastic hair tie on the door knob. We continually check her door knob for the hair tie and when we see it there, we head on in. This doesn’t always mean she wants to talk or be comforted. It does mean she’s ready for someone to sit with her.
How do you introduce this topic?
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Introduce the topic when your child is not upset. “I know sometimes when you get upset you want us near by and sometimes you want to be alone. I want you to know that you can be alone if you want. We’re always here for you when you are ready. If you want to be alone but change your mind, put an elastic hair tie/ ponytail holder/ rubber band on your door knob. As soon as we see it there we can come in and be with you. We can talk whenever you’re ready or we can just sit with you. You can let us know what you need.”Then practice this in a role play format. Have your child go into their room and close the door. In a minute, have them place a rubber band on the door knob. Head on in when you see it. You can ask them if there’s anything else they need from you when they’re upset.
What this looks like in the moment:
Your child starts crying or screaming and stomps off to their room. As they go ask, “Can I come with you or do you want to be alone?” If they say you can go with them, then go. If they want to be alone, call after them, “Remember to put the rubber band on your door knob when you’re ready!” Sometimes they’ll put it on right away and sometimes it takes a while. You need to keep checking to see when it’s there.I’ll be honest, it can be a pain for me to continue to go up and down the stairs to check her door knob. Especially when I’m cooking or cleaning up the dishes. However, it really allows her to feel like she can give herself what she needs and she knows that we are standing by to support her when she needs it. That is priceless.
While I was writing this our daughter reminded me that I’m not always good at being patient.
I’m still learning to not always push in.
She’s still learning to process her emotions.
We’re both still learning how to give her what she needs.
We’re both a work in progress.
Know what’s great about that? She knows we’re on the same team.
We’re doing it together.
There are a lot of great books with can help you work through emotions like anger with your children:The Inside Out Mixed Emotions book is great for preschoolers and early grade schoolers.
The Feelings Book and What to do When Tempers Flare are great for older kids, maybe starting around age 7 or 8. They both list strategies for calming down. American Girl also makes a Feelings Journal which is great for kids to reflect. Understanding Myself is a great book that helps kids understand and manage ALL their emotions.
What strategies have you used for dealing with anger in children?
Click here to read about how to help your school aged kid when they have tantrums
Click here to read about how to teach your child to calm themselves down
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