© Caroline Witten-Hannah for Auckland Therapy Blog, 17 July 2018.
Children who are persistently angry, unhappy, defiant, non compliant, complaining, negative, miserable and tantruming can be very hard to live with. Parents can feel drained, upset and very frustrated and it often disrupts the whole family.
Parents inevitably ask WHY is my child like this? Am I doing something wrong? Is there something wrong with me or my child? And so the questions and wonderings go on.
Persistent Anger is usually a messenger that something is not right for the child and so try to look behind the anger to find out what is going wrong in your child’s world. There can be a multitude of reasons why children behave like this. Things like : jealousy, family dynamics, sibling rivalry, teasing, bullying, school problems, learning difficulties, poor self esteem, feeling left out, loneliness, anxiety, sadness and grief, problems with friends and so the list goes on.
In childhood sadness and and anger are very closely linked to one another which means that children can often express their sad feelings with anger. Children are not always able to identify what’s going on for them or if they know they may be unable to talk about it. Some children don’t want to worry parents with their issues and think they should sort stuff out for themselves.
We all need to manage or hold our anger in certain situations and generally this is something kids get better at as they grow older. Help children see that they can choose how to express their angry feelings and show them lots of ways to do this positively:
Parents will often try a range of different parenting strategies to try and help a persistently angry child. If you have done this with no success, then it is probably time to seek some professional help. Intervening early before these negative behaviours become entrenched is recommended especially before you hit the teenage years.
Remember that kids who are persistently angry are unhappy and are probably stuck, not knowing how to help themselves.
Engaging with a child therapist who is skilled in helping families with children’s behaviour problems can usually identify the underlying problem and set your child back on the right track again with many useful skills to use when situations arise next time.