Understanding and Expressing Anger - Nurturing Parenting Program Tips

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Our children are looking to us to see how to handle emotions. One of the more difficult emotions to navigate and model for our children is expressing anger.

Anger is a feeling of discomfort and an expression of past pain or hurt. When people do not express their hurt, that pain stays inside waiting to come out. When it does come out, it comes out as anger. Anger is necessary for people to express so they can let it go and not carry around that past hurt and pain.  

It is important to remember that anger itself is not bad but the way it is expressed can be. Children who do not learn how to express their anger appropriately can then consequently struggle with it all their lives. Helping your child to identify how they are feeling AND what they need, will greatly benefit them in managing their anger.  

The 3 Rules of Expressing Anger 

  • Don’t hurt yourself- respect yourself
  • Don’t hurt others – respect others
  • Don’t hurt the environment – respect the places around you

Remember that when there is a DON’T we also need there to be a DO. For instance, if you tell a child they cannot hit when they are angry you also need to tell them what they can do when they are angry. 

DON’T hit = DO… angry scribble, run, jump, dance, sing loudly, write out your feelings, talk it through, use breathwork, tense and untense your body, go for a walk, draw your feelings etc.  

Avoid telling your child to hit something like a pillow when they are angry. Children may then associate anger with violence and hitting “something” can easily transfer into hitting someone. 

Most importantly model to your child how you appropriately express your own anger. Let them see that it is okay to have angry feelings and how you can work through them in a safe and healthy way. 

"Teaching a child to shut down their emotions does not make them calm. It makes them numb. Calmness is a skill that develops after a child has learned to feel their emotions, not ignore them." – Inspired by Eli Harwood