We are all trying to raise kids who can manage their anger.
In order for them to grow that skill we need to let them feel the feeling so they can experientially learn how to navigate it. Day-to-day life will deal them a bazillion opportunities to navigate anger if we get out of the way a bit. They thrive when we are less of an ‘intervener’ and more of a ‘quiet supporter’.
As their parent, it is natural to feel pulled to try and shut down their anger. It’s hard to see them uncomfortable and so much societal street-cred gets laid on the kids that are ‘compliant’.
However, it is important to remember that an absence of expressed anger doesn’t equate to them being able to self-regulate. It can be a sign that they have learnt that their anger is a part of them that is not welcome. If so, they will likely quietly and shamefully internalize and have implosions (eg anxiety) rather than explosions.
So, what to do?
As much as you can – let them BLOW.
Say ‘it’s ok to be mad’ then stop talking and let them be mad.
(You let them be joyful don’t you? Why does anger need to be so boxed-up?)
The aim is not to teach our kids to suppress their anger. It is for them to learn how to regularly express anger in ways that work for them and those around them.
Resist the pull to lecture them, placate them, distract them, ignore them, shame them, take things from them, or send them away. Stay quietly alongside them doing what you can towards them having some safe space while they work on processing their fizz.
When we take all that futile energy out of trying to keep the anger jack-in-the box from popping up we then have it to (as clearly, calmly and kindly as we can manage) put into holding limits around behaviour and not feelings.