Once your kid is aware of his unique signs that warn him his temper is ready to blow, he needs to know how to handle his frustrations or temper. Explain that anger is normal: how we choose to deal with it can be healthy or unhealthy, as well as get us in trouble or keep us out of trouble. There are a number of anger management strategies to cool tempers.The goal is to find the one that works best for your child and then help him rehearse it again and again until it becomes a habit. Here are a few possibilities:
• Deal with the anger. Pound clay, hit a pillow, shoot baskets, punch a punching bag. Help your child find the most effective way to calm his temper, and then encourage him to use the technique.
• Go to a calm spot. Ask your kid to help you set up a place where he can go to gain control. Put out a few soothing things such as books, music, pens, and paper, and then encourage him to use the spot to cool down.
• Leave the scene. Sometimes the best strategy is to leave the scene. Do emphasize that to your kid.Whenever he feels he can't control his temper, feels the urge to fight, or doesn't feel safe, he can walk away. It's always safer.
• Use self-talk. Help your child learn to say a simple, positive message to himself to control his temper—for example, "Stop and calm down,""Stay in control,""Chill out,""I can handle this." Have your kid choose a phrase she feels most comfortable saying, and then help her rehearse it a few times each day until she can use it on her own.
• Teach "Stop and breathe." Tell your child as soon as he feels he's losing his temper to say to himself:"Stop! Calm down." He then immediately takes a deep, slow breath (or two or three if necessary) from his tummy. Getting oxygen into the brain is one of the fastest ways to relax.
• Imagine a calm place. Ask your kid to think of a place he has been where he feels calm and peaceful—for instance, the beach, his bed, Grandpa's backyard, a tree house. Right before his temper starts to flare and he feels those body warning signs kick in, tell him to close his eyes and imagine the spot while breathing slowly. Some kids say it helps them to pretend they are pulling a "stop sign" in front of their eyes. The sign warns them to control their temper.
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