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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can kids suffer from anger management issues?

    My 11 year old son shows obvious signs of not being able to manage his anger which often results in frightening circumstances. I thought this issue was one for adults not kids. Could he be suffering from anger management issues? Or is it simply a pre teenager stage?
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  • Ida Shapievsky

    Psychologist

    Being a mother myself, I understand what it is like constantly worrying if you are doing the best job possible for your child. My passion … View Profile

    Kids, like adults, experience a range of emotions - happyness, sadness, frustration, anger, jealousy and list goes on. We feel anger when things dont go to plan, when we feel out of control or people do not meet our expectation. So keeping that in mind, ofcourse kids can feel anger and without knowing how to express our anger kids can lash out on people around them. Managing anger or rather expressing anger in a healthy manner is a skill that we need to learn and like adults, kids need to be taught strategies on how to express their anger without hurting people around them. It is ok to feel angry but there are ways of expressing it that does not hurt people around us.

  • Dr Clive Jones

    Counselling Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Sport Psychologist

    Dr Clive Jones is a registered psychologist specialising in the assessment and treatment of mental health issues and disorders and High Performance Sport psychology. He … View Profile

    All of us, children included, get angry. The problem is when the child is at a loss on how to express that anger appropriately and deal with the things that are making them angry productively. One thing that can sometimes happen in regard to anger is the notion of acting out. This is when the object of the anger, i.e., when you're looking at a child expressing their anger; is not always what the child is angry over.

    Often a child can have a range of things happening in their life at any point in time, as we all do, but for a child they can often displace that anger on to other things and just let it out without necessarily directing their anger in a constructive and positive way to the thing that is having them feel angry - particularly, if the thing that's making them feel angry is something that they don't feel comfortable directly approaching or dealing with.

    For example if they're feeling angry with things that are happening in the home, if there are issues between mum and dad, arguments and so fourth, and they can't actually directly approach that situation and talk about it or they feel uncomfortable doing that, or if there are issues at school… fundamentally, there are a whole range of things that could have a child feel angry.

    The goal is to be able to come to an understanding of the origins of the anger and then working with the child to help them respond in the most effective way.

  • 1

    Thanks

    Colleen Morris

    Psychologist

    Colleen Morris is a Clinical Family Therapist and Counsellor in Geelong, Victoria. Colleen works with individuals, couples and families, to promote growth, wellness and potential. … View Profile

    I actually would say it is probably a bit of both. We all have to learn how to manage our anger. Children, as they are growing up, learn to deal with their anger by watching people around them and their peers.

    I would also say that, of course at age 11, your boy is entering adolescence so it’s also part of the character that hormonally things are changing and he is trying to now begin to grow up. That’s a very difficult stage of life for him. If your 11-year-old’s anger is such that he is frequently losing control and you are feeling that other people aren't safe around him or he’s actually unsafe himself, then it’s indicating that he cannot control the anger he feels and that he needs some help.

    I would suggest that certainly you can go to a health professional that manages and deals particularly with adolescences. For yourself, I’d give you a couple of suggestions. First of all, you should try to be a detective for your son. Try and recognize the things that are triggering his anger. Notice his feelings…is he feeling helpless when that anger starts? Does he feel like it’s not being listened to or perhaps there’s something happening outside of the home such as bullying? What is triggering his anger?

    If you can begin to understand what it is and learn to walk in your son’s shoes, it might actually give you a lot more empathy for him. When the anger is treated stay calm yourself. If you and your son have discussed what helps calm him, you can actually put that into practice and help him settle. Then once he’s settled, you can perhaps have a chat with him about that and begin to understand. Certainly, don’t take it out on him and don’t be punitive with him.

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