Taming Childhood Anger: Developing Healthy Habits
Temper tantrums are often associated with the "terrible twos," but rarely do they begin on a child's second birthday and end on his third. Some children never have a temper tantrum, while others are still having them at age forty-five.
Parents have an opportunity when their children are young to teach them appropriate ways of coping with and expressing anger. Your response to your child's anger during these formative years may greatly influence his ability to manage his emotions as he continues to face the challenges of life.
Anger is a normal emotion that we experience throughout our lives. The goal is not to eliminate anger but to learn healthy ways to cope with and express this emotion.
An infant often begins expressing anger moments after she enters the world. With a high-pitched scream, flaring fists, and red face she lets you know that she's not happy with the adjustments of this new world. As she enters the toddler years, she may use temper tantrums to express her anger as she desperately works to establish her individuality and independence. Preschoolers call upon their newly formed vocabulary to express their anger with outbursts such as "You're not my friend anymore" or "I hate you." Although these experiences are not enjoyable, they are a normal part of development during the child's early years.
Your child's experience with anger during the first 5-6 years of life may greatly influence his future ability to handle anger in an appropriate way.
Last reviewedMay 2012by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.