An angry child can leave you feeling helpless and even a little heated yourself. But if you have practiced mindfulness with your child on a regular basis, you will have built-in solutions to their feelings of anger, and your feelings of helplessness when rage takes over their little bodies.
Just like Now Cow is able to stay calm when Fighter Spider reacts to everything with anger in Kelly Caleb’s book, Now Cow Helps Fighter Spider: A Mindful Tale for Coping With Anger, you can learn to respond calmly and helpfully when your child reacts with anger.
What Your Child Needs to Know About Feeling Angry
You love them. It’s important that your child knows that even when they are angry, you still love them just as much as you do when they are calm. You can tell them this when they are angry, but tell them again after the anger is over so they can really take it in.
You see that they are upset. Let your child know that you can physically see they are upset. This can help them become self-aware of what their body is doing when they are angry. It also gives you a chance to talk about the situation without trying to solve it immediately.
It is okay to be angry. Validation is important. While certain behaviors may not be okay, the basic feeling of anger is okay and, at certain times, completely appropriate.
Would you like my help? Give your child the choice of accepting your help or not. Your first idea may be to give them a hug, but sometimes an angry child will refuse any type of touch. Letting them choose whether to accept help gives them ownership over their response to their feeling of anger and their ability to resolve the feeling.
It’s not okay to… While it’s completely okay to have the emotion of anger, make sure your child knows it’s not okay to hurt people or possessions, yell obscenities, or behave in other inappropriate ways.
You are safe. One thing that kids react in anger to is fear. They may be afraid of what will happen when their fit is over, worried that you’ll be mad at them, or even fear for their safety. Reassure them in a calm voice that they are safe and they will always be safe with you.
Last time, mindfulness worked. Remind your child what mindfulness practice you did last time they were angry that worked really well. If they are calm enough to agree that it did, suggest that you try that same mindfulness exercise or another one that you have practiced since the last time they were angry—their choice.
Children’s Anger and Mindfulness Exercises
There are a variety of mindfulness exercises you can try when your child is feeling angry to get them back to a calm state. Focused breathing and body scanning are two examples, and more examples will be coming in future blog posts. It always begins by practicing these exercises on a daily basis when your child is already calm.
Another way to learn about mindfulness for children is to read Kelly Caleb’s Now Cow books with your child. In fact, reading these books together is a great way to calm an angry child. Mindfulness helps your child feel loved, safe, and heard, and that’s why it works.
Operation Jack’s Village
If you’re a parent, therapist, teacher, or another caregiver of adolescents, we invite you to check out Operation Jack’s Village—an organization that focuses on a comprehensive approach to adolescent suicide awareness and prevention. Help your adolescents survive, thrive, and soar.