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Psychology Essay Example: Children and Anger Management

8 pages
1930 words
Middlebury College
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Based on observations made from the surrounding community and information gained on online platforms, I have come to believe that upbringing of children is not an easy process as I imagined. Parents do face a lot of challenges while raising kids. For instance, a major challenge noted that affects parents is the difficulty to understand and manage different emotions of children. Since time immemorial, young people and children have been known to express various human emotions that reflect their feelings towards a certain scenario. These behavioral traits range from feelings of affection such as love, pity, kindness, and joy, to those of displeasure such as fear, resentment, sadness and disgust among others. Often, these emotions have been wrongly interpreted and poorly handled by some caregivers when keen attention is not given to a child. As a result, many are the times that wrong handling of these emotions has led to adverse impacts on the child, a factor that significantly influences the way they conduct themselves in the society. Thus, these elements translate that children are among the at-risk populations; hence it is necessary to study these concerns.

Why the Topic Anger Management in Children

In a bid to gain greater insight into the human behavior of children, I will explore the theme anger management in children. I remember the topic caught my interest in an instance where, recently, my younger brother aged six, received a thorough beating from my mother for refusing to eat because he was angry. The anger issue emanated from an occasion where he wanted to watch his favorite cartoon in our one and only family Television. However, there was an essential ongoing live media coverage that touched on a Premier League match of Manchester United against Arsenal. Our family is full of football fanatics, including my mother. As such, it was difficult to convince my brother to let go of the cartoon episode for the sake of the family watching the breaking news on TV, and therefore, his demands were ignored. As a result, my little brother then got angry to the point of refusing to eat food. Consequently, my mother spanked him out of anger to make him eat. In my opinion, I do not think that my mother handled the issue correctly, nor as she could have healed the rift between her and my little brother using a different technique rather than giving him a beating for being angry. That interaction between my mother and little brother left me very confused about anger. Is it wrong to be angry, just like my brother did? Or is it justifiable to be angry, as my mother demonstrated?

On that note, I will analyze my topic of interest anger management in children by defining what anger is, and through exploiting certain aspects that revolve around the theme. Additionally, my curiosity also lies on the effects and the causes from which these aggressive behaviors emanate. Additionally, I would also like to pursue on some of effective behavioral therapies or methods that can be used by caregivers to help in taking charge of the anger situations whenever they arise.

Defining Anger

In the quest to understand anger, I came across a book where the authors, Gary Hankins and Carol Hankins (2000), believe that anger is that negative emotion characterized by resentment. It is usually channeled by a person towards another individual or something, as one considers that that party has deliberately wronged he or her. They believe that it is an inevitable emotion that is experienced by every individual at a certain point in their life, though the degree differs from one person to another; and to this, I concur with them. As the role of the anger emotion in the human life remains a controversial issue, it got some people believing that it is a valuable emotion while others perceive anger as a worthless emotion that inhibits personal growth. Personally, I still do not know which side I stand. However, coming to think of it, anger has sometimes worked to my advantage. This is so because most of the times whenever am angry I watch documentaries which enable me to learn something from them, or I conduct a thorough cleaning of my room. In regards to the book written by the Hankins they rust that anger has both its advantages and disadvantages; so, it is okay to be angry. They write, anger is a normal, natural emotion that, in itself, is neither good nor bad. Instead, its value is determined by how you choose to respond to it (Hankins & Hankins, 2000).

In essence, the writers express that anger can either be constructive or destructive depending on where one channels the energy generated by anger. Therefore, anger can open and stimulate communication with others, besides helping one indulge in positive actions. On the other side, it can be disadvantageous in that; it can drain and block interactions with other people, or even trigger one into destructive actions. For example, many are the times I see people from my local hometown indulge in excessive alcohol intake just because they are angry, which is risky as it poses dangers to the person. Hence, regarding the role of anger to the humans, I agree with the sentiments of the Hankins that, it can serve to build or drawback a person.

Causes of Anger In children

In order to develop practical solutions to anger and aggressive conducts in children, it is wise to study the roots of the meltdowns and lash outs, as some are common in most children. An online editorial published by Kristen-McClure (n.d.), offers significant insight into the causes of anger in children. In her article, she believes that environmental stress is a primary cause of anger in children. She explains that factors that overstress a child like the loss of a guardian, or the involvement in a firehouse burn can interfere with the ability of a child to control anger.

A second cause suggested by McClure is that modeled behavior can act as a predisposing element to anger. In essence, she implies that a setting that nurtures poor anger control can greatly influence a child to develop with poor anger management techniques. Usually, parents and schools are the major contributors to this aspect. Jamie Sullivan, an author at Parent Wonder, an online publication portal, also shares the same sentiments with McClure. Sullivan (2008), supports the notion that children emulate a lot of behaviors from their caregivers, and as such, anger reaction and management is no exception.

Thirdly, Kristen-McClure is of the opinion that physical abuse or sexual abuse is also a top cause of anger to kids. In her defense, she believes that it creates a feeling of powerlessness and fear to the children, who might, in turn, recoil from social interactions or develop behavioral patterns that are out of control such as violence (McClure, n.d.). For instance, I remember when I was in class two there was this boy who used to be bullied a lot by the elderly boys from my class because he was the tiniest regarding body size. As a result, one day during lunch break, when everyone else was out for lunch, he secretly peed on their books and tore apart the others. My best guess is, he was acting out of anger to revenge for the harassments he had undergone.

A fourth factor discussed by Kristen-McClure is the presence of neurobehavioral disorders that affect the development of a child by inhibiting normal development of language, as well as causing other levels of impairment. Consequently, it affects the response of a child to certain situations. These disorders include the Bipolar disorder, Autism, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), undiagnosed learning disabilities or sensory processing issues, and other associated disorders that promote poor social skills to children. Children with such deficits often tend to be easily frustrated by simple situations such as having to retire to bed or even doing their assignments. These conditions also can make a child feel different from others which heightens their inability to control their anger. Further, McClure feels that inconsistent parenting is also another cause of anger. She explains that parents who possess unpredictable guidelines or react differently to the same situation can make a child to have anger management problem as the child develops confusion frustrations (McClure, n.d.).

Practical Methods and Strategies to Manage Anger in Children

Upon the review of different theory articles, I extracted some practical behavioral techniques that could prove effective when implemented. As such, one of the suggested methods is through the implementation of the Parent Management Training technique (PMT), which has so far received a wide-ranging experimental support in as far as the management of anger is concerned. The technique is also referred to as Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). According to Sukhodolsky & Scahill (2012), they understand that the main aim of the technique is to train parents on positive reinforcement methods that could help enhance the behavior problems of their children, and in turn, curb the anger management concern. The PMT technique is derived from the fundamental principle of operant training or conditioning, which holds that the probability of a specific behavior recurring is weakened or strengthened depending on actions that take place after that response.

The strategy demands that both the parent and child work together by conducting various activities under the supervision of a counselor. In turn, caregivers can learn different ways of managing anger in their children. In most occasions, parents are required to create a progress chart that should help the parent outline and record any positive or negative observations that pertain to the behavior of the child. Besides evaluating the progress of the child with time, the details of the progress chart should also be used assist the therapist and guardian to come up with specific areas treatment. The PMT strategy enlightens parents on how to exercise affirmative reinforcement procedures. For instance, they are able to adapt the technique of giving social tokens like hugs and praises as a means to reward apt behavior. Again, parents learn to deliberately ignore inappropriate behavior that can be tolerated, though the child must recognize that it is inappropriate. Additionally, the caregivers are taught on the time-out technique, where they are supposed to withdraw attention from the child for a specified period of time. The parents are supposed to maintain calmness and consistency during the application of these strategies.

The National Health Service (2016), suggests the use of a different technique termed as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which in essence is a talking therapy. This method is meant to help by changing the way a child or a parent thinks and behaves. Hence, it targets shortage in the regulation of emotions as well as problem-solving skills relating to socializing with others. The technique commonly focuses on children with anxiety and depression issues, together with other mental concerns. The strategy helps manage anger by mitigating conflict situations between a child and other people. For example, a parent should explain a particular case to the child so that he or she can understand the cause of their frustration. Again, the technique encourages parents to teach children to express themselves verbally; since it helps a child gain control and minimize any chances of lashing out. It is a strategy that can be adopted by both parents and children to help them bypass other day-to-day frustrations. However, the method presents a possible shortcoming in that; it might not be suitable for children with more complex mental issues or those with learning disabilities.

A third technique proposed is the use of Collabora...

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