What Your Child Needs Most When They’re Angry

What your child needs most when they're angry

Her voice is shrill and loud. Her hands clenched. She repeats the words over and over, each time more vehemently. It is not me or my actions that have triggered her anger and frustration but I am the target of the feelings that overwhelm her. I feel my own frustration levels rise as once again I am the one on the receiving end of this anger that I did not cause, that I cannot control. Why me?

But, of course, I know the answer – because I am the mama. I am the safe place to fall.

It is not always easy to be the refuge. And often I fail. My own shoulders tensing, I hear the cross words spilling out before I even realise they have formed. And this angry response – it ultimately achieves nothing. My words don’t make her stop. They certainly don’t make me feel any better. They don’t solve the problem that sparked the outburst. They don’t help her to learn to manage these overwhelming feelings and emotions without harm. My anger just sparks more anger, more frustration, more hurt.

So what does my child need instead?

She needs me to slow down.

To pause.

To breathe.

To validate her feelings.

She needs my help to see her way through the red mist of her anger.

In this moment my child needs connection much more than correction.

As I tuck her into bed that night, I check that we are okay. Now that we are calm we talk about our responses and how we each can do better. I hold her and tell her how much I love her.

And as I close the bedroom door and step away, I am thankful for the quiet, the relief and the clean slate of tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will do better.

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  1. Great post Christie. It reminded me of my childhood when I used to get upset and I realize sometimes I also make the same mistakes as a mother. I wish every mom and dad follows your tips so that the child does not grow up as a resentful, angry person.

    1. What a powerful post! Thank you for sharing such a raw moment — a moment all too familiar. Your suggestions are wonderful and the clean slate is so hopeful. Thank you so much.

  2. First School says:

    Hi Christie,
    Nice post. Thanks for sharing. I was just looking for something new and finally, I got it here. As a child care center, First School staff has to manage children, who are pre-schoolers. Many times, children get restless at school due to the absence of their parents. Your tips seem practical and can prove to be good for our child care.

  3. Last night I just went through the hard time!
    Even though I used to be a teacher, now Mom of two children, I still frustrated sometimes.
    I definitely need some suggestion and help.
    Thank you for the post.
    This is exactly what I need now.
    It’s very helpful.

    1. Some days are just plain tough. So glad to have helped, even if just a little.

  4. Great post! Doing one for my child

  5. Wow!!! Thanks for sharing!!! As a Nanny (25 yrs) I see this all the time!!!
    And! Get asked What the heck??? This will help!!
    Thank you!!!!

  6. Mother Woman Human says:

    Great post. Really like the 5 steps to managing big emotions and I think it will be really useful. Thanks.

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