Have you ever heard the phrase, kids aren’t bad, they’re just angry? A child’s temperament and attitude can be reflective of their parent’s inability to control anger or properly express anger, and also, their home environment. If a parent is unable to model how to express and control their anger, a child is predisposed to act the same.
Some counselors have found that the cause of the anger in a child is usually from one or both of these cases: (a) angry, on-edge, and/or violent parents; and/or (b) a feeling that their well-being is threatened.
Some other common causes of anger in children are: feeling of despair, fear or danger, lack of feeling loved and praised, feeling overly controlled or overly criticized, and feeling unable to meet their parents’ unrealistic expectations.
Many youths seek out a way to express their anger, and if they have no one to role model the proper way to do so, some youth fall prey to various negative outlets such as compulsive use of violent video gaming, bullying, eating disorders and drugs to name a few. Keeping an eye out for youth who display the signs of using these negative outlets can be the first step in identifying a child in need.
Coping Skills to Teach:
As a coach, teacher or role model, you are positioned to help children that lack proper parents at home by improving their “emotional literacy”. Try to talk about anger and other feelings either in a group setting or individually with the child. Discuss ways to cope with these feeling such as deep breathing exercises, counting to ten, and journaling. Some schools have even created drama groups that take part in plays that act out anger, so that they can practice coping with difficult feelings even when they’re not actually angry at the moment.
Make it a practice to let the child know that you are listening to them and that you want to hear what they are frustrated about in a non-threatening, honest and open manner. Children feed off the emotional environment around them, so if they can sense that you are angry, they will continue to react in anger.
Identifying & Approaching
It’s common for anger to conceal other circumstances in the child’s life, not just the immediate situation. Keep an eye out for a child that has trouble controlling their anger.
If the child is of a very young age, try reading them a children’s book about feelings. You can also use the method of relating to a child by sparking up a conversation with them about a hobby or a sport that they show interest in. Make sure you ask them non-threatening questions and try to find out the root cause of their adverse behavior.
There is no quick or easy method when it comes to helping a child that is acting out or exhibiting “bad” behavior. You must develop an adult-child relationship that is based in trust and honesty. Asking non-threatening questions and wholeheartedly listening to the child is key.
Kids aren’t “bad”, they’re just angry. They didn’t ask to be placed in a toxic home environment. They never asked to have abusive or absentee parents. All children deserve a chance, and you can help give them a chance by identifying their behavior as a cry for help and taking action by becoming their role model and mentor. And please remember, if you feel the child is a threat to the well-being of themselves or others, please notify the appropriate authorities.