The majority of children do not always agree with their parents. They can also sometimes be angry. Stephan Valentin, psychologist, gives us his advice.
Joy, anger, fear, disgust … Emotions are physiological responses to stimuli. It is therefore natural that they express themselves in response to the tensions of everyday life. Anger is, for example, a completely normal reaction to frustration. But when it concerns children, it can quickly become a nightmare for parents! Indeed, what parent was not disappointed to see his offspring howling, crying or rolling on the ground …? And yet it contributes to his sense of identity. It is in fact in the opposition phase, around two / three years old, that the child expresses a feeling of new autonomy. Her wishes now in the foreground may not match those of her parents. Here is the advice of Stephan Valentin, doctor in psychology and author of the book “Children’s anxieties“, to Editions Jouvence, to avoid feeling clueless.
Why do children have trouble tempering their reactions?
Stephan Valentin: Controlling emotions is part of a long learning process … Children experience new things every day. Their ability to adapt and react adequately is done in particular by observing their parents. They thus note how they react in a given situation.
What can parents do when faced with an angry child?
Understanding and hearing the child’s wants and needs is the best way to help them manage their emotions. However, we must respond by setting limits that will serve as reassuring benchmarks. Letting the child do what he wants out of fear that he will have a crisis is indeed not a good strategy. The child must have parents in front of him who can also stand up to him. It takes a lot of strength to endure anger from your child. Do not believe that the child no longer loves you. He is only a little lost in his emotions and he needs you to channel them.
If the child reacts in an extreme manner, how should the parents behave?
It is very important that the child does not injure himself or others or even that he breaks objects. For this, action must be taken before the crisis is at the highest level. You have to know how to say “stop” relatively early. When the child rolls on the floor, he actually wants to test you. He understood that it is a good strategy to achieve his ends in the stores. After all, the gaze of others is often very unpleasant for parents. To avoid this type of crisis, tell the child before going to the store that today there will be no ice. A child indeed needs to prepare.
What should you avoid telling or doing?
Shouting, spanking, humiliating, insulting or even hitting him are unsuccessful responses. The latter being: the child has learned the “lesson”! Spanking acts, for example, on the mechanisms of fear. The child is therefore more in awe than in learning the rules. He learns to obey through anxiety and that does not help him grow and become empowered.
How to help the child to “digest” the annoyances?
Parents can teach their children to calm down by, for example, asking them to breathe deeply. Working on the breath is indeed a good way to find tranquility. Some children will also calm down by talking to themselves.
You should also know that communication is always a good way to help your child, without falling into endless discussions! In addition, you should not be afraid of frustrating your child at times. It’s part of life. You raise a child with a lot of love and with frustration.
What are your tips for a child’s “no” and outbursts?
Parents must first learn to remain calm and patient. It is essential that they do not allow themselves to be provoked.
- Avoid endless dialogues especially when the child is still too small. Then opt for short and simple explanations.
- Diversion, divert his attention, or talk to him about something else.
- Both parents must agree on the limits placed on the child.
- If possible, stay calm in order to make the child understand that you do not feel hurt by your anger, that you understand it …
- It is important to tell the child that you do not accept their behavior by warning of the impending punishment.
- After the crisis, explain to him that you heard his “No”, but that you do not agree with him and tell him why.