Growing brains thrive best in stimulating and calm surroundings. But with bright kids, anger, conflict, screaming, and drama are often present by the bucket-load in their families.
|How To Teach My Child To Control His Anger|
Dealing with anger
People who generally can't contain their anger will quickly lose friends. Teaching children how to control their negative feelings is not easy, but it is essential if they are to have a fulfilling life. Learning that there is someone stronger than your negative emotion or tantrum is a lesson that should be learned at home. If a child learns that his parents are going to give in every time he gets angry, he will use anger to get what he wants. Do you want your child to learn this?
"Hot heads" and "cold hearts"
Children express anger mainly in two ways: with "hot heads" or with "cold hearts."
The "hot heads" show anger very quickly, and need to learn how to control their impulses. They don't hold back, but once it's over, it's over.
Hot heads need to learn how to settle themselves down. They are a bit like a car with great acceleration but very poor brakes: they know a lot about rewing-up but a lot less about calming themselves down. This can be done by discussing anger with them, the things they are angry about, and suggesting alternative ways of dealing with those feelings. Younger "hot heads" can be held, gently but firmly, during a tantrum until they calm down. (A warning for parents, though: once you decide to hold them, you need to keep holding them until they really have calmed down, and that can take quite a while!)
The "cold hearts" have more impulse control than the hot heads and are more calculating in the way they express anger. It is almost as if they are saying, "I'll wait till it's really embarrassing before showing my anger." The supermarket aisles are full of cold-heart children sitting down and threatening to scream until you give in. The earlier these cold hearts learn that anger is not an appropriate way to gain attention or privileges, the better. (Another warning for parents: when you take a firm stand and decide not to give in to these children, they get worse, much worse, for a while before they get better.)
Meltdowns and calm-downs
Bright kids can sweep you up in a maelstrom of drama very quickly. Unless you plan carefully, you can find yourself in the eye of a storm, fighting tooth-and-nail for something you don't even care very much about.
Parents of bright kids need to know whether they are dealing with a meltdown or a calm-down situation.
Meltdowns occur when there is no way of shifting a bright kid's behavior just by using words. The intensity of the conflict has reached such a point that rational discussion is not possible. As I mentioned earlier, crocodile brains are snapping. Some indicators that you are in meltdown are:
- The argument has shifted from one area to another in a fairly random way.
- The emphasis seems to be more on expressing anger or frustration than on solving a problem.
- Someone feels unsafe (this might be you or your bright kid).
- There has been an act or a threat of physical violence.
Try to plan your meltdown procedure in advance. In a meltdown, your positioning is important, as is your knowledge of the bright kid. Some bright kids, when they hit a meltdown, need as much space and privacy as you can give them. Leaving them alone, sending them to their room, or walking away - i.e., increasing the physical distance between yourself and them - are some strategies. Other bright kids respond very badly to being left alone. Some become destructive either towards themselves, property, or others.
You'll know this from your experience of your bright kid. Obviously, leaving very young bright kids alone when they are angry and distressed is inadvisable. Young bright kids will need someone around who can quietly keep an eye on them as they go through their meltdown. To find out more, you can check out How To Teach My Child To Control His Anger.