Six Tips for Cooling Kids of Bad-Tempered Attitudes

teenage boy is ripping his shirt apartYelling. Fighting. Hitting. Tantrums. Biting. Sound familiar? They are all typical behaviors bad-tempered kids use to make their needs known and to get their way. Child expert and author, Michele Borba tells parents: “Calming a hot temper is not only teachable but also essential for growing up in this sometimes violent, unpredictable world.” Here are six anger management tips Borba offers parents.

1.    Commit to raising a controlled kid. Studies show that parents who feel strongly about their kids showing self-restraint succeed because they committed themselves to that effort.

2.    Model coolness. One question parents should ask nightly is: “If my kid had only my behavior to watch, what would he have seen today?” Self-control is learned first at home.

3.    Set a rule: “Talk only when calm.” Refuse to talk to your kid until you and your kid are calm. If needed, lock yourself in the bathroom. Enforce the EXIT rule: walk away until calm.

4.    Identify stress signs. We all have unique physiological stress signs warning us we’re getting angry: flushed cheeks, rapid breathing, dry mouth. Recognize your child’s signs and help him identify them and keep pointing them out until he recognizes them in himself.

5.    Teach your child healthy ways to control that bad temper. Here are a few options:
•    Use self-talk. Teach him an affirmation: a simple, positive message he says to himself in stressful situations. For example: “Stop and calm down,” “Stay in control,” “I can handle this.”
•    Tear anger away. Tell your child to draw or write what is upsetting him on a piece of paper. Then tear it into little pieces and “throw the anger away.”
•    1 + 3 + 10. As soon as you feel you’re losing control: 1. Tell yourself: ‘Be calm.’ 2. Take three deep, slow breaths. 3. Count slowly to 10. Together it’s 1 + 3 + 10.
•    Abdominal breath control. Inhale slowly to a count of five, pause two counts, slowly breathe out, again counting to five. Repeating the sequence creates maximum relaxation, and reduces stress.

6.    Use the “Rule of 21.” The trick is to find a strategy that matches each kid’s unique temperament and comfort level. It will only become a habit if it is practiced until automatic and usually that’s 21 days!

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