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How can I help my child to control his temper?

Michele Borba
Psychology
Here are some things a parent can do to help kids tune into their body alarms:
  • Explain body temper alarms. Go over the way you see your child act when she’s starting to get mad. “You always make that little hissing noise and grind your teeth. Sometimes you stamp your feet. Those are your danger signs that big trouble might be on the way.”
Hint: Each child (as well as you) has her own physiological signs. Those signs materialize whenever we’re under stress and have a fight or flight response. The trick is to help your child identify her unique signs before she loses her temper.

Don’t expect instant recognition: it may take a week or two before she can identify her signs.
  • Dig deeper. Talk to your child about what’s causing her temper to flare so quickly.
“You don’t seem like the same kid lately. Anything you want to talk about?”

“You seem so tense and quick-tempered with your friends. What’s going on?”

“I know the move was really tough. Do you think that’s at the bottom of your bad temper lately?”
  • Point out negative effects. Take time to discuss the negative effects of inappropriate anger displays. Here is a sample dialogue, but personalize it to fit your child and the anger issues:
“Anger can really hurt you. You could lose a friend, get a bad reputation, lose a job, get suspended from school, get hurt. If you don’t control your temper you could be headed for danger and lose your friends.”

Pinpoint the specific negative effects your child’s outbursts have. Doing so often helps the child gain that inner strength to want to change.
  • Brainstorm temper triggers. Help your child recognize the things that bug him the most so he can handle the situation better when he’s with his friends.
“I noticed that whenever George starts exaggerating you hit the roof.”

“What is it about the way Lori criticizes your hair -- I can see your blood pressure rising.”

Help your kid identify that certain look, unfairness, not sharing, interrupting, telling secrets behind your back, put-downs, and other things that make his blood boil so he can avoid setting off his temper.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.