Anger management for children.

Anger management for children differs from anger management for adults. There is an even greater need to use experiential learning approaches for children. This might be role play, art therapy, sandplay therapy and so on. Furthermore, parental support is vital. Parents often get angry at their angry children. Although this is a very natural reaction, it is not a helpful one, since the parent is reinforcing anger in the house by modelling it. Disciplining angry children requires parents with the strongest resolve to be consistent and firm, without displaying the very emotion (anger) they are trying to curb in their youngsters, something not many parents can do.

Just like therapy for adults,  anger management for children involves inner healing. Healing from what? – parents might ask. Sometimes, children can feel hurt with quite unjustified reasons. A lot of these may be mis-communication, particularly with time-poor parents. In therapy, the key parent(s) are required to have a session before the child engages in therapy. This session is psycho-education for parenting on an unconscious level, for effective influence. After this session, the parent(s) are equipped with the know-how to support the child while undergoing therapy and in the future.

It does not matter if your defiant teenager does not want therapy. If you can somehow get him/her to the clinic, there is a chance you will see change. An example comes to mind in which a 17 year old boy stared at me with daggered eyes with body language that says “you can’t make me talk”, as soon as his mum left. I asked him if he knew why he was sent to me. He said, “yup, mum says I have an anger problem”. I said, “do YOU think you have an anger problem”. He said, “nope, Mum’s the one who needs therapy”.

So I said, “seeing that you’ll be stuck with me here for a couple of hours, and seeing that nothing goes out of these four walls because of client confidentiality, is there anything that YOU wish to work on? We may as well make this time useful for you.” He thought about it for a while and said, “Yeah, can you help me with more confidence with girls…  and yes, more focus on my studies would be good too.”

A week after the session, mum called to book her other son in and said, “by the way, don’t know what you did, but Johnny has been an absolute angel this week”. What did I do?  I simply helped Johnny release his own frustrations, insecurities, worries, etc, so he no longer needed to express these feelings with anger. Sometimes, your child’s anger is NOT what you think it is!

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