Parenting Expert Julia Cook understands just how difficult parenting can be at times—especially if/when your child has a temper tantrum. She explains that a child’s increasing anger is comparable to a shaken soda: “Think of anger as bubbles inside of a two-liter bottle of pop. When the bottle is shaken, the amount of bubbles and the pressure inside of the bottle increase. If you carefully unscrew the top of the bottle, you can let the pressure out without losing any of the liquid (your self-control). If you don’t unscrew the cap and you keep shaking the bottle, the pressure keeps building until the bottle explodes… your cap goes flying off and you lose your self-control. A flying cap can be destructive and at times, even dangerous.” In simpler words, it’s important to carefully address the child’s negative feelings before they explode.
Identify Symptoms That Accompany Anger
Cook says both you and your child should familiar yourselves with signs of bubbling anger. “Teach your child to recognize the signs of stress, anxiety and anger at onset. If a child can learn what anger feels like when it first starts, it will be easier for that child to keep his/her anger from escalating out of control,” she explains. “Anger starts out as an irritation. Often, an irritated child will experience physical signs of anger onset, such as increased heart rate, an adrenaline rush, warm face or ears, tightness of the jaw, tense shoulders, etc. Think of anger onset as that fizz in a pop bottle.”
While anger often starts out as irritation, it can take on a life of its own and create enormous difficulties for your child. Licensed Professional Counselor Juan Santos says you should look out for the following symptoms that may accompany anger in your child, as they may signify or turn into a more serious problem:
- Feeling sad or frustrated
- Having trouble sleeping
- Acting impulsively
- Isolating oneself from others
- Decreasing social interaction with peers
- Displaying low performance at school
- Finding previously pleasurable activities less interesting
- Experiencing negative or bad thoughts
7 Techniques to Control Bubbling Anger
The following techniques, as recommended by Cook, will help your child address and control their anger before it goes haywire:
1) Take five deep breaths. Cook’s first tip is to guide your child in taking five deep breaths. Yes, it’s that simple! They should breathe in through the nose and out slowly through the mouth. Doing so will allow their body to calm down and their brain to find focus again.
2) Walk away and find a quiet place to sit down and relax. Another way of stepping outside of your anger is to literally walk away and find a quiet place to relax, Cook says. This could be a nearby chair, a completely separate room, or even the comfort of the outdoors. Any quiet and relaxing place will do the job as the point is for your kid to remove himself from the stressful or irritating situation.
3) Do the push, pull, dangle. Cook’s third tip is for your child to do the “push, pull, dangle,” as she calls it. “Push down on the seat of your chair while you count to ten; pull up on the seat of your chair while you count to ten; dangle your arms at your side and feel all of your stress leave your body.”
4) Go into your room and blare your music. Your child might also benefit from going into his or her room and blaring their favorite music. Haven’t you ever found refuge in blaring your radio on a nice, long drive or cranking the volume on your iPhone while you run around the block? It’s the same idea. Doing so allows you to transport mentally.
5) Get plenty of rest. “It’s hard to control your fizz when you’re tired,” Cook explains. Therefore, you should make sure your kid gets adequate sleep each night. Sleep recommendations vary with age, but most children should get at least 8 hours of restful sleep each night.
6) Eat healthy. Enough can’t be said about the benefits (both physical and mental) of maintaining a healthy diet. Make sure your kid is eating nutritionally-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables. They’ll likely show some improvements in mood management, and they’ll be in an overall better place mentally and emotionally.
7) Stay open to your feelings. Cook’s final tip is to encourage your kid to be open to their feelings. “Never screw your bottle cap on so tight you can’t loosen it,” she says. “If you do, your anger will build up inside and if it can’t come through your cap, it will end up making you feel sick.”