Like adults, most kids can get moody or angry at times. Although feelings such as these are normal and considered healthy emotions, many children can find it difficult to understand the difference between angry feelings and aggressive behavior. Helping your child learn healthy ways to deal with anger can make a big difference to their behavior and their ability to manage feelings appropriately.
Understanding Children’s Feelings
Although moodiness, anger, and frustration are normal healthy emotions, they can quickly turn into defiance, aggression, disrespect, and emotional outbursts when a child doesn’t know how to deal with their emotions effectively. If left unaddressed, this can lead to potentially bigger problems later on, such as problems at school, difficulty forging relationships with friends and peers, and poor mental health.
Moodiness in children can be caused by many different factors. In young children, it can stem from being unable to communicate or express themselves properly, leading to frustration and temper tantrums. During adolescence, factors such as hormones, academic, and peer pressure, and working out where they fit in society can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions and episodes of moodiness.
Dealing with a moody child or one who demonstrates difficult or aggressive behavior can be challenging for parents. Fortunately, there are a number of methods to help your child learn healthy ways of dealing with anger.
Learning To Manage Anger
As children mature, they develop the necessary coping strategies and communication skills to express themselves better, but this can take time and is a learned skill. Allowing kids to differentiate between feelings and behavior is key to helping them see that they are in control of their actions when they feel frustrated or angry. Children need to understand and learn that it is normal to feel angry at times, but that it’s not okay to use aggressive behavior, such as hitting or punching. Regularly talking about feelings will help your child recognize and understand them better, enabling them to communicate and express their feelings in a more constructive manner.
Modeling appropriate anger management skills and helping your child identify strategies to cope with anger can help them learn to deal with their feelings more effectively. If a child sees you lose your temper, they will likely do the same when they feel angry or upset. The way you respond to your child’s behavior can make a big difference. Arguing back or shouting at them sends your child mixed messages about dealing with their feelings appropriately. Acknowledging that your child is upset and explaining that there are more appropriate ways to deal with their feelings reinforces that you care and understand, and it helps them learn to express themselves in constructive ways.
Coping strategies can vary depending on the situation and what works for your child. This may include, walking away to cool off, using words instead of aggression to explain why they are upset, listening to soothing music, or carrying out a different activity until they calm down.
When To Seek Help
Even the most attentive, patient, and practiced parents can find difficult behavior hard to manage at times. If you are concerned or find it difficult to deal with your child’s behavior, you should speak to your child’s pediatrician or doctor. If your child is exhibiting signs of prolonged moodiness or sadness and has lost interest in activities they previously enjoyed, it could indicate a more serious matter, such as depression, which will require special medical care.
Developmental pediatricians are highly experienced physicians who have the necessary skills and experience to provide the medical and psychological support families need to tackle behavioral and mental health issues. They provide a variety of services to help children and families, including:
- Helping you recognize the cause of your child’s behavior in order to formulate relevant discipline strategies and interventions.
- Helping children learn healthy social skills and how to cope with problems, allowing them to function well at home, school, and in the community.
- Prescribing and monitoring medication if your child has an issue such as ADHD, depression, or anxiety.
- Recommending specialist services and therapies to help your child in and out of school.
Developmental Pediatric Care in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Florida
If you have concerns about your child’s mood or behavior, contact the Children’s Medical Center for caring and compassionate pediatric care. Our experienced developmental pediatricians provide psychological and medical support for children with developmental, learning, and behavioral problems and their families.
At the Children’s Medical Center, we provide comprehensive pediatric healthcare for patients from birth to 18 years of age and are dedicated to providing the highest quality care. To find out more about the services we offer, contact us at one of our four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Trinity, Westchase, and Lutz. Alternatively, you can schedule a consultation with one of our developmental pediatricians using our convenient online request form.