This is typically the most difficult sign of stress to handle and the easiest to misunderstand. If you are like most adults, you react to your youngster’s anger by getting angry. This reaction is followed by trying to stop your child’s behavior. With other signs of stress, it is easier to see your child’s unhappy feelings and frustration and not so hard to respond to his feelings instead of reacting to his behavior. With temper and anger, you can find yourself reacting to your child’s angry behavior and not responding to his feelings at all.
The best response may be very difficult for you. Your child’s temper outburst will run its course. If he is not hitting someone or breaking things, the outburst does not hurt anything. However you respond, do not get into an argument with him. Use all of your adult restraint to avoid yelling or making threats.
Instead, calmly say, “I can see you’re angry. You have a right to feel how you feel. I’m going to wait here with you until you get it out however much you need to blow.” Now, stop talking and wait until your child starts quieting down and calming down. If the tantrum persists or if you are unable to wait quietly, leave the room for a while, returning when your child is calmer.
When it gets a little quieter, say, “Being angry is okay sometimes. Losing your temper doesn’t work very well for any of us. You’re trying very hard to tell me something important. Please try again. When your temper isn’t getting in the way, I can hear and understand better. What has you so upset?”
Whatever it is, do not react, blame your child, give advice, or defend yourself or anyone else. You might say, “Thank you for sharing that with me. I’ll think about it and we can talk about it a little later.” Be sure to think about it and go back later and offer to talk about his frustrations and concerns.