An Alternative Way to Calm Your Child’s Anger

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Today Silas started to get mad and began throwing his crayons. I asked him to stop, but he just threw them harder. I’m not sure if this anger is something that all two year olds experience, but these outbursts aren’t unusual in our home. When we are sitting down for dinner and Silas doesn’t like what’s on his plate, he throws whatever he can on the floor. When we tell him he can’t go outside, he comes at you ready to hit. Of course, he’s always a little angel at parent’s day out though!

Usually when Silas acts like this we firmly tell him to stop which usually doesn’t work. Nine times out of ten, episodes like this end in swift punishment for our little man. Although he’s starting to learn, our methods just haven’t seemed to be working on our spunky, strong-willed child.

Recently I was speaking to an elderly lady about how to correct toddlers, and she referred to this stage as “housebreaking.”  Our former pastor & his wife have 10 kids, she says, “get ’em while they’re young.”  They work hard to correct disobedience when children are very young to build good structure from the start.  We have heeded this advice. In fact, Silas is very familiar with our discipline routine so much so that he will ask for discipline after he does something wrong. At least, we know we are consistent, right?

An-alternative-way-to-calm-your-childs-angerFor some reason, during the crayon incident today, I took a different route.  I didn’t have him take a timeout or give him a firm correction, I sat him in my lap in order to understand why he was mad.  I asked him why he was so angry.  At two, he understands what I’m saying but he’s in no place to explain.  At that point, Shana mentioned he’s probably upset because I told him we were going to water the garden, but I didn’t follow through on my commitment.  That probably made him sad which was coming out as anger.  So then I asked him, “Silas are you mad because daddy started working instead of taking you outside to water the garden?”  “Yes” he replied.  I hugged him and apologized for not keeping my commitment.  His demeanor immediately changed.  I told him to clean up the crayons.  Without hesitation he picked them up.  Whoa!  This is rare!  My heart was bursting with joy!

In our house, we are all about seeking to understand one another during a disagreement and using our feeling words. We’ve learned that through years of counseling, and it has been a huge gift to our marriage and helped ease conflict with our teenager. I’m not sure why we never took this approach with Silas, but I’m not surprised that it worked. Anger is a secondary emotion which means there’s something behind the curtain that needs to be addressed. He lashed out because he didn’t know how to handle what he was feeling. It’s my job to help teach him to take a breath and pause to process what he is feeling.

Although structure and consistent discipline are important for children, emotional healing and connection do the body good. So next time your child acts out in anger, draw near to them and ask your son or daughter if they are MAD, SAD or GLAD. This simple act of connection could help calm the chaos in your home.

Disclaimer: Always remember I’m not a doctor or medical professional. The content on this site is meant for education and entertainment and should not be taken as medical advice. As always, please take responsibility for your health by doing research and possibly consulting a medical professional.

Casey Bresnahan
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