Anger management is often associated with adults trying to address their flaring tempers or violent outbursts, but many children also struggle to understand and cope with anger. Joanna Kleovoulou, clinical psychologist and founder of Joburg-based PsychMatters Wellness Centre, offers advice on how both you and your child can learn to understand and address their ‘explosive anger’ together.
WHY DO SOME CHILDREN LASH OUT?
All children throw tantrums or have angry outbursts occasionally, but if your child often reacts by aggressively snapping or expressing angry behaviour disproportionate to the situation, they may be dealing with explosive anger. According to Joanna, US studies suggest 25-40% of boys and 10-28% of girls aged between two and five years are rated by their preschool teachers as having moderate to high levels of aggression. In South Africa the prevalence is estimated to be much higher, given the high level of violence and crime rates as well as socio-economic factors.
Joanna explains the importance of trying to find the root of the problem, rather than simply reacting to their anger. She suggests viewing your child’s behaviour as goal-directed: ‘Are they seeking a need, trying to express something, or displaying a condition to be addressed? Your child’s explosive behaviour could be multifaceted,’ she says, explaining there are various potential explanations or catalysts for their behaviour. Th