Anger in children is often misunderstood by adults, who don't always know how to handle children's angry outbursts. We might be asking ourselves the following questions: Is my child just being overly dramatic? Is he or she trying to control me? How do I diffuse the situation and help my child handle himself more calmly? Let's look at the myths behind angry children--how to better manage it, and how to know when and if you should seek outside help.

The Faces of Anger

One myth is that children's anger is psychological, when in fact, children's anger can wear many faces and have different causes. Anger in children can surface for many of the same reasons it surfaces in adults. It may be an emotional reaction to stresses at home or at school, or it may be a genetic predisposition.

It also believed by some that children's anger is unpredictable, when in fact there are almost always clues and/or triggers for parents to pick up on if they're paying attention. A common trigger can be over stimulation--such as a tantrum that occurs at the end of a shopping trip. Anger that results from over stimulation can be addressed simply by giving the child a time out to calm down.

Parents also tend to believe the myth that an angry outburst by a child automatically requires discipline. This is not always the case, especially if the anger is due to emotional stress, such as a parent divorce. In cases such as this, what is really needed is for a trusted adult to listen to the child and address their feelings.

Sometimes children's anger is a phase, and once they get a little older and gain better tools for behavior, they better at expressing their feelings. Other times, children seem to learn that they get mom's or dad's attention when they act out, so they begin doing it for that reason. Therefore it is so important to handle children's outbursts calmly without letting their behavior dictate your reaction. If you can't be calm, give both of you a time out until you can be.

When Should I Seek Help?

If your child is having frequent, uncontrollable outbursts of anger, it may be time to get help from outside the home. There are diagnosable conditions that contribute to anger. One such condition is Oppositional Defiant Disorder {ODD}. This is a behavioral condition marked by defiant, angry behavior toward adults in the child's life--including parents and teachers. Other conditions known to cause childhood anger include ADHD, anxiety, learning disabilities and sensory processing disorders.

If you see any of the following behaviors in your child, please seek help from a professional:

  • tantrums that continue to occur after the age of 8
  • your child exhibits dangerous behavior toward others or himself
  • your child's teacher reports that he is "out of control"
  • family life is seriously disrupted by the outbursts

Children's anger issues are most successfully handled with parents and children working together to learn more constructive behaviors and responses.

Author's Bio: 

Tyler enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative designs. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn