Wake up angry every day
When kids get angry
What is anger
Anger is a multifaceted feeling that can be shown by silent "crying for yourself", loud scolding, as well as by a physical attack, up to and including manslaughter. Nevertheless, the feeling of anger is just as much a part of our lives as fear, joy, happiness and pain. Anger is not only part of children's life, adults also know the feeling of anger but have (hopefully !!!) learned to deal appropriately (socially acceptable) with this feeling.
Lisa behaves in a socially acceptable manner and is constantly pestered by her big sister. She leaves the common nursery and announces to the sister that she is no longer in the mood for arguments. Andre, on the other hand, lets his anger run wild and beats his big brother.
Anger is part of our basic emotional makeup. It can also be a warning sign. It draws our attention to the fact that something is wrong, someone is not behaving properly, someone is dishonest, takes advantage of others, makes excessive, unjustified demands or sanctions where sanctions are not appropriate. Anger can also signal a disorder. If Leo responds with an outburst of anger to any denied request, his parents should consider that a warning sign and seek help. Outbursts of anger are also allowed. Everyone has a right to their expressions of emotions, including their anger. If it is suppressed, it can later discharge itself all the more powerfully. In the course of their lives, children gradually learn to deal with their anger, to channel it so as not to harm other people or to destroy things.
For adults, outbursts of anger in children can also be a signal of increased attention. If the outbursts of anger do not end or if it turns into hurtful aggression, research into the cause should be carried out and countermeasures should be taken.
Anger has many causes
Defiance, anger, and anger are related feelings. They often occur in response to similar situations, usually in response to an experience of frustration. The little child is forced to do something that he or she does not want to do. Parents do not fulfill the wishes of the child, their own mishap causes an outburst, but also rejection, reprimand, punishment or a lack of attention. The most common causes of angry outbursts are:
Striving for autonomy
In children between about two and a half to three years old, the outburst of anger can be an attempt to gain more autonomy. The child tries out behaviors that help them get their way. It has to and wants to try which means it can best assert itself and tries it with anger, screaming, stamping its feet and cursing. In the course of development, the outbursts of anger become less and, above all, less violent.
Hendrik should always be the best everywhere. He goes to the football club and his ambitious parents encourage him to perform at every game. He goes to music school and practices playing the flute every day. Hendrik's parents openly react with disappointment when Hendrik does not get the main role in the nativity play for Christmas and prefers the game on the PC when the sun is shining. No wonder that he soon reacts to the exaggerated expectations of his parents with outbursts of anger.
Lisa's parents mean it especially well. Her understanding of democracy means that Lisa (5 years old) is involved in all decisions. Lisa can hardly eat in the morning because she cannot decide whether to have muesli, jam rolls, corn flakes, fruit salad or fried eggs. After kindergarten, she goes shopping with mom and gives advice on buying. It goes on like this all day. Lisa is visibly overwhelmed and reacts with outbursts of anger.
Many children today grow up in traffic-friendly surroundings. Often there is no room to play in the nursery or on the street. Small children have to go to the playground with their parents. Park lawns are often not allowed to walk on or are contaminated by dogs. Playing games on the PC or watching TV for a long time can also turn children into couch potatoes. But children need opportunities to let off steam. They have to experience situations in which they can get to know their strengths and measure their strengths. Playing outdoors and with many other children is important for this.
Many stimuli storm our children today. You will be inundated with commercials and television movies. Receiving information through the media that is not age appropriate and overwhelming them, is included by their parents in purchasing decisions that they are not yet able to make and they are left alone with many problems and decisions at an early age. The children can choose from an unmistakable flood of television programs. Even in disadvantaged families, children's rooms are overflowing with toys. The range of goods in department stores and supermarkets is confusing and difficult for a child to cope with.
Lack of self-esteem
Linda doesn't dare to do anything. She repeatedly experiences situations in which she experiences failures. Her parents are very caring and also a little bit scared. They don't exactly encourage Linda to try something and make her feel like she can't make mistakes. Linda is not allowed to climb the tree, she could fall down. Linda is brought to the bus stop by her mother, she is sure that Linda is far from being alone. Linda does not get a bike like all classmates already have. Dad says Linda isn't big enough for that yet. She very often hears sentences like: "Don't do that, Linda, you can't do that!" or "You're not old enough for that!" "You could injure yourself!" "You can't do that anyway!" At some point it all becomes too much for Linda. She's freaking out.
Wrong role expectations
Lukas father always wanted a robust, sporty son. The father does not perceive the fact that Lukas has artistic talents, is sensitive and shows feelings as an enrichment, but as a lack. Lukas should develop into a “real man”. He should play football, mess with his classmates and not be a "wimp". Luke tries to match the image of the father. However, this does not go well for long. Lukas shows strength in dealing with small children whom he beats and on whom he ventes his anger and shows the supposedly desired behaviors.
Nele feels that her mother is overworked. She wants to help her and helps out with the household wherever possible. She cleans the washbasin in the bathroom, but Mama doesn't even notice. Nele clears out the dishwasher, her mother complains that some plates are in the wrong place. After Nele has vacuumed the floor, the mother fetches the vacuum cleaner to touch up the work in the corners. After a couple of similar situations, Nele gets angry: “I can't please you, do your crap alone”, calls Nele, throws the cleaning utensils on the floor and disappears. She can no longer stand these constant experiences of failure.
Media role models
The media, in particular, give our children a role model that can hardly be imitated. The children are completely styled, all wishes come true and are treated like little princes and princesses. Girls are mostly pretty and very slim, while boys are still being suggested that they need to be strong and athletic. Violence is presented as a legitimate means of confrontation and anyone who watches comics often experiences that a blow to the head has no effect. The defeated person gets up again without any injuries and the fight happily goes into the next round.
Anyone who does not come close to their role models in the media and repeatedly experiences that the chance of becoming like the television heroes is very slim, can easily get angry.
How anger arises
There are different theories about how anger develops:
- S. Freud assumes that feelings such as aggression and anger are drive or instinctive expressions.
- J. Dollard describes it as a reaction to an experience of frustration that arises when the satisfaction of needs is constantly prevented.
- A. Bandura assumes that this behavior is a learning process (imitation of parental behavior, reaction to film scenes ...).
Whatever the theory, anger is definitely a response to an uncomfortable perception. If you want to react appropriately to an outburst of anger, you should therefore not react spontaneously, but clarify which perception the outbreak is based on.
What should I do?
First of all, it is important to research the causes of the anger outburst. Is it a natural reaction based on disappointment, is it a reaction to an attack, or is the child trying out his or her own assertiveness as part of his or her autonomy development? In these cases, you should keep calm and have a long, patient breath. Perhaps your child is also insecure and does not feel comfortable in a larger group and therefore reacts with outbursts of anger.
- Ignore the undesirable behavior, offer to talk to you, and don't let other people's comments bother you. Don't let your child's anger infect you. Speak as calmly and quietly as possible, this will dampen the anger. Remain friendly, because it is not easy to get angry with a friendly person.
- Above all, do not get carried away with rash acts such as hitting or screaming. Sometimes it is important to let the anger dissipate and only offer a conversation when the anger has subsided.
- Leave your child alone for a while. Get out of the room and let your child know that while you can understand that your child is angry, you can still see the need to talk about the facts and the way they are angry. Offer a quiet conversation.
- Make sure that your child is sufficiently active in the fresh air. That doesn't work as well if you just send it to the playground. Go with them, offer an attractive opportunity to move around. A discovery walk in the forest, a visit to the swimming pool, a bicycle race or a snowball fight will do you good too.
- Make arrangements about the length of media consumption.
- Avoid overstimulation.
- Involve your child in as many decisions as possible and make your own decisions transparent.
- Provide challenges for your child to overcome. Everyone needs a sense of achievement and every praise stimulates. Use your child's strengths.
- Try to create a low-frustration atmosphere.
- Be a good role model.
- Talk to your child a lot. Those who can verbalize their anger can process it more easily.
- Provide your child with an outlet that will help them calm down. Talking doesn't always make sense. Sometimes the child needs a punching bag, a fair wrestling match, or the opportunity to scream properly.
- Sometimes the children are not busy and get angry about it. Help your child find the balance between rest and activity.
- Make it clear to your child that there are limits and rules to be followed.
- Establish rules together.
- Offer playful first aids in anger processing:
- scream out loud.
- organize a pillow fight with parents or siblings,
- tear a newspaper into tiny pieces
- stamp your feet
- drum with your fists on an upside-down plastic bucket,
- hold a race
- Inventing swear words and screaming out,
- to take some time off.
Children need freedom and challenges
Children develop best when they have a framework that gives them a high degree of freedom on the one hand, and also shows rules and limits on the other. Your child would like to have a setting in which they can try things out unobserved. It doesn't want to be bullied and given regulations all the time. Adult-free zones are indispensable for the further development of the children in an age-appropriate framework. Children conquer their world step by step independently. Healthy and self-confident children quickly get to know and accept their limits. You take small steps and have a good sense of yourself. Undertrained and lack of real challenges are just as much a problem for children of our time as overstimulation and overstrain. Parents also tend to have a keen sense for their children. You should follow this calmly and make sure that a balance is created between calm and challenge. If you watch your child closely, you can tell when your child needs stimulation and when relaxation is the order of the day.
- Petra Stamer-Brandt (2003): “The ABC of Education - From Fear to Anger” Gräfe & Unzer, Munich.
- Petra Stamer-Brandt (2003): “Wut-weg-Spiele”, Herder, Freiburg.
- Petra Stamer-Brandt (2012): Wilde Kerle Spiele. Herder-Freiburg.
- Monika Murphy-Witt / Petra Stamer-Brandt (2004): “What children need for the future” Graefe & Unzer, Munich.
Further contributions by the author can be found here in our family handbook
Petra Stamer-Brandt is the mother of four children, an educator and specialist journalist. She is a trained educational organizational consultant, coach (Advanced Studies University of Kiel) and has written numerous specialist books and parenting guides.
Created December 13, 2013
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