Anger is an entirely normal human emotion for people of all ages to experience.
The difference between more mature individuals and young children is that young children are still learning to effectively regulate and manage their feelings. As younger children are more focused on their personal needs and less aware of their social role, they express their anger through tantrums and outbursts.
As children grow up, with guidance from their parents on how to manage their feelings, social cues from positive and negative reactions of their friends, and from observing others, they come to understand the social requirements that come with living amongst others. These include sharing, taking turns, and accepting the word “no”.
With the additional motivation to balance their personal wants with that of others so as to maintain harmonious social relations and regular play partners, tantrums slowly subside.
It is important to note that most of our communication is non-verbal, especially when it involves dealing with intense emotions. Parents need to model how to express anger in appropriate ways as their children watch them closely for such cues. Behavior must be consistent with verbal messaging to be effective.
If parents verbally advocate the need to respond in a calm manner, while regularly have explosive outbursts of anger, their displays of anger are going to resonate more strongly with their children, as non-verbal communication always wins. In addition, losing our temper takes away the opportunity to demonstrate to our children how anger can appropriately dealt with, when we are feeling overwhelmed.
However even with proper modelling and guidance, there are exceptions. Some children have persistent difficulty in managing their anger and do not appear to gain emotional maturity. This could signal that the child may have other underlying issues. The child would benefit from help with developing a level of emotional literacy that would allow them to work effectively with others, which is an important skill throughout life. Here is how to recognise the difference:
Research has demonstrated that children with learning difficulties experience emotional distress, including anger and frustration, which are related to their difficulties. These include feeling failure when facing lessons that they know they will be unable to understand or complete, feeling defeated that they have difficulty understanding or remembering the content despite their best efforts to stay focused, or feeling incompetent when comparing themselves with their peers.
A child’s learning disability may missed if parents and teachers are focused on behavioural or emotional issues, when these in fact are symptoms of an underlying problem.
If your child has frequent angry outbursts that they can not seem to control, contact the BFDC. We can help.