There are reasons why a child becomes angry and frustrated. It is normal and healthy. It need not to be feared or suppressed. Anger assists changing wrongs into rights. It alerts of problems and dangers, but a child needs to know how to manage and express it appropriately.
A child can learn that anger need not be frightening, unpredictable or overwhelming. Also to understand, manage and express angry feelings in age-appropriate way.
The training to self-calm and master overwhelming emotions starts from babyhood. It continues through childhood.
Why a child becomes angry – the top brain
Why a child becomes angry is simply that young children yet to develop their ‘top brain’. This part of the brain regulates primitive impulses such as anger. When a child explodes with anger, the ‘bottom brain’, (aka the ‘crocodile brain’), has taken control of behaviour. This ‘crocodile brain’ is already mature at birth. When a child is in this state, there is no point in talking. The connection to the regulating ‘top brain’ has been temporarily cut. The child will not understand language nor reasoning. Wait until the child has calmed down. Meanwhile, stop the child hurting itself or others, or damaging things.
Massive development happens in the ‘top brain’ during the early years. It is further modelled during teenage years. The ‘top brain’, however, is not mature until the mid twenties. Further minor remodelling and change happens lifelong.
Environment and parenting influences how the brain develops. Supportive interactions and learnt self-regulation skills can change the child’s brain structure and leads to its behavioural change.
How and why a child becomes angry – a range of reactions
One end of the anger scale is virtual explosion. The other end is crying and directing anger inward. Both harm the child. An explosive child is seen as difficult and adults respond accordingly. Other children will avoid an angry child. This leads to social isolation and feelings of being ‘not good’. Angry behaviour then escalates. Directing the anger inwards leads to high levels of stress hormones. This weakens the immune system and may lower emotional and physical well being.
How and why a child becomes angry – concealing other emotions
Most of the time anger conceals other emotions. These include sadness, anxiety, injustice, sibling rivalry and embarrassment. They may also include hunger, tiredness, illness, pain, disappointment, inadequacy, insecurity, rejection and emotional hurt.
Children learn by observing and doing. Your own behaviour is the best teacher. Stay calm and correct any anger behaviour in yourself. When the storm is over, talk to your child. Let the child find different solutions to the problem. Listen to your child. Practice the new way of being. Explore new ways of calming down and expressing the anger safely.
Children who become angry frequently, inappropriately or too intensely, and/or for long periods need professional help to work out the underlining reasons.
Maarit Rivers’ Therapy for Children uses creative methods to access and grow different parts of the brain. Maarit helps the child to improve the connection between the ‘top brain’ and ‘crocodile brain’. This enables to deal with their anger in a healthier, non-frightening way.
Contact Maarit Rivers now for an initial free consultation for your child at [email protected]
Or call me NOW on 0417 462 115