Angry Children

For some children, a struggle to control intensity when they are feeling angry can be debilitating and humiliating. It can also, in the worst situations make them a danger to others or to themselves. All too often, it also has the effect of creating negative spirals in their personal relationships with family, peers or educators.

So, it's vital that we help them to deal with their anger and to build an arsenal of tools and strategies to deal with situations when they are angered. This is the first critical point - we should not be trying to teach children that they have no right to ever feel angry or that it is somehow something they should feel terribly guilty about. Rather, we want them to be able to recognise triggers, understand their own anger (and that of others) for what it is and to deal with it in ways that are calibrated to the reality of the situation they're in without creating negative long term consequences.

The short little video above and the article link below contain some good ideas, certainly as starting points;

Parent Herald - 5 Tips To Calm An Angry Kid

I would have been keen to see more of the advice focused on prevention. Making sure that your child is getting adequate and regular sleep, has a good diet and gets some good physical exercise on a regular basis are three ways that are proven to reduce the frequency and intensity of anger from the child. Also, as in earlier articles about screen time, it's useful to try to limit the levels of stimulation through electronic gadgets etc.

As educators we have a vital role to play in helping children to build emotional intelligence. For many children smaller families (less or no siblings) and busy/ distracted parents mean that they get less time devoted to the management of emotions in the home. It would be very easy for teachers to bemoan the implications this brings to classrooms, especially in early years education, or alternatively to adopt strict, rigid, disciplinarian routines and regimes to 'control' and button down the children, but these don't contribute meaningfully to their emotional development.

I believe two of the most important aspects highlighted by the video are the vocabulary to talk about and describe emotions and feelings and the opportunity to reflect and discuss their feelings about anger and other strong emotions.

By far, one of the best vehicles for such development is the concept of 'Quality Circle Time' as developed by Jenny Mosley. Sadly, this is a concept that I've seen much abused by too many teachers. Circle Time doesn't mean sitting on the floor in a circle doing Maths sums! Rather, for children of all ages it offers an empathic, safe environment to talk about feelings and emotions, to reflect and explore triggers and to truly hear each other in a non-threatening way to understand how their own actions may trigger certain emotions and feelings in their peers and also to hear how others deal with their strong emotions.

Jenny Mosley's Quality Circle Time For Educational Training And Resources
(The link above provides access to lots of information about how to use circle time effectively, research and validation for the process and ideas for materials, tools and themes for running effective circle time sessions)

Educators can't pretend away the feelings and emotions of children. When those emotions get in the way of learning (their own or others') then it doesn't matter how good the teacher, their lesson plan or material - learning won't be effective. At the same time, you can't brush children's emotions in to a corner with suppression and coercive classroom management techniques (so that the problems just emerge somewhere else). So, educators need to have the tools and strategies, and devote the time to emotional and social development that includes building children's understanding of anger and their tools for dealing with it.


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