My 2 Year Old Has Anger Tantrums! Is It Normal? Get Solutions From Expert Child Counsellors
Q: My child is 2 years old. He has anger tantrums. He is only interested in watching violent video games. I feel that it has contributed to his anger issues. Every time I tell him no to something, he just bursts out in anger and starts punching me. He currently goes to pre-primary school, and even there he just wants to fight with the kids. I am very concerned about his behavior. Will it go away with time or should I take child counselling?
I empathize with your situation. As parents, we want the best for our children, and it is never easy to see them struggling with anything. Let me tell you that anger is a natural emotion. In kids especially, anger tantrums could be a way of expressing their needs and wants.
As an expert child counsellor, I have seen many cases where the parent’s major concern is the child’s anger tantrums or mood swings. When I did a deeper into this issue, I understood that there is much more to this than what appears on the surface.
Children are not very verbally active. They express their feelings through non-verbal gestures. Hence, I incorporate a lot of play and art therapy in my sessions.
With the help of these non-verbal psychometric tests, I was able to detect feelings of jealousy and insecurity in the child. I know, many of you may wonder how a child as young as 5 years old can feel such emotions.
Well, according to scientific research studies, emotions develop as early as 4 months old. And by the time children are 12-14 months old they can experience a wide range of emotions including sadness, anger, frustration, and jealousy.
Coming back to this case, the mother was pregnant, and she could no longer give him the same level of time and attention. Since she was going through a complicated pregnancy there was tension and stress at home as well.
Amidst this stress when the child would throw anger tantrums, the parents would feel more frustrated, and deal aggressively with the child.
As adults, we have the capacity to have an objective assessment of the situation at hand. Kids can’t do that. All they can see is how you are not there for them when they need you. They have a one-track mind.
I want attention. I am not getting attention. Let me cry to get attention.
Now, I explained this to the parents. They understood. However, they also rightly pointed out that it is not physically possible to always give in to the child’s demands.
I agree. Demands that are materialistic in nature should be carefully paced. But never deprive children of their emotional needs.
You may be able to relate to this. Imagine you are having a tough day. Everything is stressing you out and you just feel very low about yourself.
Your loved one sees you in this messed up state of mind, and instead of asking you to feel okay, simply gives you a warm hug and your favorite comfort food.
How would that make you feel? Won’t all your stress melt away?
Similarly, when we provide a nurturing and safe environment to our children, they feel empowered and relaxed. Simultaneously, you can help your child express and regulate their emotions and actions in better ways.
I equipped the parents with effective strategies on how they can include the child in the process of pregnancy and give him a sense of control over the situation. I asked them to dedicate some time only to talk to him. Give him their undivided attention and ask him what they can do to make him feel better.
The parents followed my suggestions, and in two weeks they could see a major shift in Arhan’s attitude. His anger tantrums were reduced to a great extent, and he seemed happier and relaxed. He even put aside some of his toys for the new baby!
Arhan’s anger tantrums were a disguise for his feelings of insecurity and jealousy. When his parents empathetically acknowledged his emotions, he automatically felt at ease and overcame the need to throw anger tantrums.
In the case of your child, I would advise a subjective assessment of the situation. Have there been any major changes in his life? How is the environment at home? Take more interest in his school life. Observing these factors can give you a better understanding of his underlying concerns.
Remember, anger is not the problem. It is simply a way of expression. Your child does not enjoy being angry. He could be struggling with something and is unable to express it verbally.
Take the help of an expert child counsellor to get an in-depth understanding of your child’s anger tantrums. It is important to address these issues as soon as possible because they can escalate and turn into something serious.
Meanwhile, I can suggest tips and techniques that you can implement at home to help your child manage his anger tantrums.
Deep breathing: Teach your child deep breathing exercises as a simple yet effective technique for calming down. Encourage them to take slow, deep breaths, counting to three as they inhale and then exhale.
Emotional labeling: Help your child identify and label their emotions. Use simple and age-appropriate language to describe feelings like anger, frustration, or disappointment. This can enhance their emotional awareness and help them communicate their emotions better.
Time-out or quiet corner: Designate a specific area in your home as a calm and quiet space where your child can go to take a break when feeling overwhelmed or angry. Encourage them to spend a few minutes there to calm down and regain control of their emotions.
Physical activity: Engage your child in physical activities that can help release pent-up energy and reduce stress. Going for a walk, dancing, jumping on a trampoline, or playing with a soft ball can all be helpful ways to channel their energy and manage anger.
Artistic expression: Encourage your child to express their emotions through art. Provide them with materials like paper, crayons, markers, or play dough, and let them create freely. Artistic expression can serve as a healthy outlet for emotions and a way to process feelings in a non-aggressive manner.
Social stories: Use age-appropriate books or visual stories to explain and discuss anger management with your child. Social stories can help them understand their emotions, learn coping strategies, and see examples of appropriate behavior in challenging situations.
Role-playing and problem-solving: Engage in role-playing activities where you and your child can act out different scenarios that may trigger anger. Practice problem-solving skills and help them brainstorm alternative ways to handle challenging situations.
Remember that consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key when implementing these techniques. It is important to model calm behavior and reinforce your child’s efforts to manage their anger tantrums effectively.
Still, I would advise going for child counseling because the behavior is not only persistent at home but also at school. Moreover, his interest in violent TV shows could turn into addiction if not regulated on time.
I am a mother as well, and my children mean the world to me. Please don’t be discouraged if your child is showing mental or emotional concerns. With the right support and expert guidance, you can help your child manage their issues and together create a bright and happy future.
Stay Calm, Stay Positive!