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When our child bursts into tears, screams, does not listen to our requests, we start to wonder what we have done wrong, we become frustrated, and we perceive the child's behaviour as a failure in our upbringing.


Anger is a kind of alarm signal, telling us that some of our needs are not being met or our limits are being crossed. It gives us the energy to act to change the situation. It is absolutely essential that a parent accepts that their child sometimes gets angry.


We often associate the child's anger with our helplessness - we think that if the child gets angry, we did something wrong, maybe we lack parental competence, we are not consistent enough, we make a mistake somewhere, we are afraid that the excessive expression of anger is caused by developmental difficulties of the child.


Anger is simply an emotion. Each of us experiences it, but not everyone allows themselves to express it. In the case of children, we should always take a look at why there is so much anger in the child, in which situations it intensifies. Often, what we see: screaming, stomping, crying, is only the first plan. Sometimes, behind the anger there is a rigidity in thinking and behaviour, the child finds it harder to accept the other person's perspective. Children get angry because reality is different from what they expect. If we teach children to interpret behaviours and events differently, this anger in the child may be less, because the child will be less frustrated. More flexible thinking will activate anger much less.


Sometimes a child's anger is a derivative of stress. This can result either from the child having too strict boundaries or no boundaries at all - then on top of the stress, we have over-stimulation: the child doesn't know how to make choices, doesn't know what is good for him or her and has no support in making decisions. A structured and clear world of rules organizes the child's emotions and helps in self-regulation.


It is important to know that the expression of anger can also take the form of sadness. Children who are overly controlling, who have strongly internalised social norms, do not show anger directly. Masked anger can give us somatic symptoms: headaches, stomachaches. It is worth asking ourselves whether our child never gets angry or whether he/she does not allow themselves to get angry.

Hunger, tiredness, not enough sleep or physical activity, noise, sensory hypersensitivity can generate high emotional tension in a child. In such situations, it is easy for anger to break out, often, in our opinion, for a trivial reason. Therefore, in order to prevent such situations, it is worth taking care of the proper amount of sleep, proper nutrition for the child, adequate amounts of exercise and activity adapted to the child's sensory needs.


Ania Chojnowska

psychologist and special educator