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Teach Your Child to Handle Anger

Babies

Little Wailers

Whether it's anger or frustration, infants have only one major tool to express any kind of negative feeling: crying. And the most frequent tear trigger is having their needs go unmet.

  • Keep personality in mind
  • Some kids, like some adults, are naturally more hot-tempered, while others require a lot to set them off. (In fact, up until age 5, temperament is the biggest factor in how easily a child gets mad.) Once you've identified your child's specific triggers, sometimes you can avoid overstimulating him or doing things that will upset him. At the very least, it'll help you keep his short fuse in perspective.

  • Talk about it Trying to reason with a baby will get you nowhere, but it's never too early to empathize. "Let's say you're strapping your seven-month-old into his car seat, which he hates, and he starts screaming," says Suzanne Stutman, a mother of three, a family therapist, and the director of the Institute for Mental Health Initiatives at the George Washington University, in Washington, DC. "Say, 'I know how much you hate the car seat and I don't blame you, but I need to keep you safe.' He won't understand what you're saying, but he'll sense your tone. And it will set him up for expressing himself verbally in the future."

  • Try distraction Olivia's 21-month-old sister, Lucy, dislikes being confined in her stroller, but food is a good way to get her to cooperate. I'll ask her, "Want some Veggie Booty? If you sit, I'll get some for you." Toys usually work too.
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