Everyone gets angry, even children. Sometimes it manifests in the form of tears and tantrums and sometimes in the form of aggressive behaviour towards others and injurious behaviour towards one’s own self.
A child’s expression of anger tends to be more uncontrolled and explosive because they don’t yet have any coping mechanisms which can help them channel their anger better. As a teacher, here are 10 ways in which you can teach your students how to cope and deal with not just anger, but even negative emotions too.
1. Emphasize positive behaviours – Talk to your students about behaviours such as positivity, self-confidence, empathy, sympathy, caring for others, generosity etc. Children are like sponges and they replicate pretty much anything they see adults do. Display these behaviours yourself and talk about their merits to your students. The younger ones are likely to mimic anything you do while the older ones might need some encouragement and exhortation to develop these behaviours. Also teach your students that these behaviours are not meant to be school-specific only, that they are behaviours which we must cultivate in all spheres of our life.
2. Talk about the consequences of negative behaviours – Why do people feel angry? It is because they are frustrated, sad, disappointed, hurt, ashamed etc. Children too feel angry because of those things. Explain to your students that feeling angry is a valid reaction. Everyone feels angry. Let them know that anger only becomes bad when it hurts someone physically or mentally. Tell them that if a child’s anger is uncontrollable then, it might intimidate or frighten the other children in the class. Even worse, it might cause them harm. Create a space for them in the classroom where a child can be angry in isolation. For older children, you can ask them to take a time out until they feel okay about rejoining the classroom.
3. Don’t be angry, be calm and firm – When a child is angry and is having a raging tantrum, don’t respond to this show of anger by being angry yourself. Instead be firm and calm as you remind them that they are in class and are creating a scene. If they show no signs of calming down, take them outside and let them ride out their tantrum. Seeing you be calm is more likely to help them calm down faster than having you yell at them.
4. As much as possible preach the concept of non-violence – Violence is one of the most common consequences of uncontrolled anger. Teach your students that violence is not an appropriate outlet for anger in any circumstances. You can instead teach them coping mechanisms such as counting to 50 after feeling angry and before doing anything, taking 10 to 20 deep breaths and even physically removing themselves from the classroom by taking a bathroom break.
5. When confronted with aggression, separate the aggressive child from the rest – In most cases of angry children, you might be able to get them to calm down. However when faced with an angry child who has become aggressive and by extension dangerous, separate the child from the rest of the classroom. Seeing a child be aggressive is going to frighten the other children and result in something drastic and untoward happening. If necessary, request the help of another teacher or the principal in calming the child down.
6. Frequent outbursts of aggression merit serious consideration – If a child is frequently aggressive as a result of being angry, it is time to be worried. Talk to the parents, talk to the school counselor (if there is one) and most important of all, talk to the child. There are mainly four reasons for aggression in children: a fear of others, psychological trauma, psychological disorders or a difficult home life. Once you know the cause, then you can take appropriate action.
7. Take care of yourself – If you are dealing with an angry child in your class, then the year is bound to be an exhausting one. It is important that while looking after your students needs, you also look after your own. After all, you don’t want to become angry and exhausted after taking care of everyone else.
How do you deal with temper tantrums in your classrooms? Ever faced a dangerous situation because a child lost their temper badly? Share your suggestions and experiences with us in the comments section below!