What is an Anger Problem?

Excerpts from Enhancing Your Child's Ability to Cope with Anger.

When a child has habitual anger outbursts, that seem out of proportion to the situation at hand, the issue probably needs to be addressed. There is a real anger problem when a child becomes too angry too often, and in many settings, such as home, school, and the neighborhood.
If your child only displays this problem when interacting with parents or family members, it may not be an anger problem. Instead, this may be a problem related to noncompliance.

Steps to Help Your Child Cope with Anger:

1. Work with your child to understand what anger is. Ask him to define anger. Help him to realize that anger is a negative emotion, a feeling of displeasure that occurs in response to a real or perceived situation. Help your child understand there are different levels of anger, such as frustrated (mild), to mad (moderate),  to rageful (severe).
2. Teach your child to recognize anger signals, that are indicators to a high level of emotion.  These signals can fall in three different categories: Body, Thought, and Action.
Body signals include: Breathing/heart rate increased, sweating, red face, or tense muscles. Thought signals include: I hate myself, I had them, I can't do anything right, etc. Action signals include: hitting, yelling, crying, withdrawing, or fidgeting.
3. Teach your child to relax. Deep breathing refers to when we take in deep breaths, and exhaling very slowly.  Visualization refers to picturing a relaxing scene. To relax your muscles it is helpful to slowly clench and unclench your fists.
4. Teach coping self talk. Explain to your child to say to himself to "take it easy, it's ok if I'm not good at this, take some deep breaths," etc.
5. Teach your child to take action. This may include expressing feelings, asking for a hug, journaling or drawing,  or going for a walk, etc.
6. Model coping with anger appropriately.