Children have an uncanny ability to know just when it’s most inconvenient to dig in their heels or defiantly lash out. And busy parents, harried by work schedules and responsibilities, are pressured to respond in ways that may only escalate the problem. So what can a parent do to more sympathetically and effectively help the child get past the outburst?
In her new book, The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Anger in Children and Teens — The Parental Intelligence Way, Laurie Hollman, a practicing psychotherapist, reveals a 5-step process for handling children’s unbridled anger. It empowers parents to manage the behavior and help their children learn better ways (and moments) for expressing angry emotions.
The steps in the Parental Intelligence process provide a structure to ensure that parents pause instead of lash out and consider what may be the cause of the child’s explosive episode. It coaches parents to withhold their judgment and calmly offer themselves as a sounding board and emphatic ear so that the child sees them as an advocate and will more readily confide in them.
Chapters in this booklet-sized book address the most common anger issues and share scenarios that give examples for applying the 5-step process. Useful tips for managing the specific anger problem follow at the end of each chapter.
In particular, Hollman points out that uncontrolled anger can be extremely frightening to the child and teen experiencing it. She encourages parents to maintain an appearance of calm — even though they may be rattled — to assure the child that the anger doesn’t alarm them. Children can recover from their distress and share their feelings if they see that the emotions don’t frighten their parents, and, in fact, that the parents are willing to listen sympathetically and nonjudgmentally to the problem.
Of course, any alarm, dismissal or returned anger by the parent will exacerbate the problem and even drive the child’s anger underground where it can resurface as an more challenging condition.
Ultimately, parents want to model and share healthy ways of expressing anger. Teaching young children “feeling language,” that enables the child to name the emotion and express it through words rather than physical actions, is an important first step.
Hollman’s Parental Intelligence method and down-to-earth advice for dealing with everything from children’s temper tantrums to teens’ defiance will empower parents to quickly and effectively resolve situations that give rise to overwhelming anger. Responding in a supportive, empathetic way lets children know that parents are in their court. They can turn to their parents as problem solvers — not shamers or blamers.
The result, Hollman stresses, will be a trusting, open and caring relationship between parent and child where both can discuss and create more appropriate ways for coping with anger.
The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Anger in Children and Teens — The Parental Intelligence Way is one in Hollman’s series of Busy Parent’s Guides. She has also published a guide to managing anxiety using Parental Intelligence.
To learn more, visit lauriehollmanphd.com.