Sometimes it is hard to understand how your 10 year old daughter may have so many anger issues at such a young age, especially if they are starting to escalate through adolescence. Anger is understood as a secondary emotion that is caused by an inability to process uncomfortable primary emotions, like fear and sadness. Her anger outbursts may be related to not knowing how to identify or manage any negative emotions, not just anger. Confronting her anger outbursts may add fuel to the fire, but addressing your tween daughter’s underlying anger management issues may help her to gain control over her emotions and repair strained relationships.
Signs Your Daughter Might Be Struggling with Anger Management Issues
Anger outbursts are often brief and may feel out of nowhere. Sometimes, they may be in response to specific situations or conflicts, but often they feel like an inappropriate response to a situation. Episodes may be brief, but in between, you may feel like you’re walking on eggshells. While tantrums are common in younger children who don’t know how to communicate their needs, it becomes concerning when it continues into adolescence.
- Inability to control feelings of anger
- Frequent aggressive outbursts, including heated arguments, threats of violence, or physical violence
- General stubbornness and irritability
- Conflict in personal relationships
- Frequently expresses hatred toward themselves and others
- Increased mental health issues, like depression or anxiety
- Self-destructive behavior
What Leads to Anger Outbursts?
Anger is triggered when a person feels threatened, whether the perceived threat is real in the moment. Past experiences being bullied or history of physical abuse and trauma may trigger anger outbursts. Exposure to other people’s anger outbursts may influence similar responses. Anger outbursts are a form of communicating one’s needs and once someone de-escalates, they may admit overwhelming feelings make them feel like they lose control of their anger.
It is possible that children who struggle with anger outbursts have underdeveloped or weaker connections between regions of the brain associated with sensory input, language processing, and social interactions. If children do not understand their emotions, it is harder for them to know how to react appropriately in situations that trigger anger.
According to Dave Anderson, the senior director of national programs at the Child Mind Institute, “for a child to get better requires just as much empathy and scaffolding as for a child who might be depressed, but behavioral issues, especially aggression and defiance, inspire nowhere near as much empathy.” He suggests that traditional punishments for behavioral issues are ineffective and may perpetuate the cycle of anger. “Those ways of responding to the negative behaviors are unlikely to work — with small children, with adolescents or with adults. We don’t tell partners to yell at partners as part of couples therapy; we don’t tell bosses to yell at employees for better productivity.”
At Asheville Academy for Girls, we believe in using unconditional positive regard to empower students to take a more active role in their personal growth.
How Does AAG Help Girls with Anger Management Issues?
- Setting clear expectations for behavior. We operate from the perspective that choice is always offered in relationships. Many of our students struggle with conflict with authority, however, we believe that collaborating to create goals helps students feel like they have a greater sense of control over their behavior.
- Offering a variety of recreation activities as an outlet for anger. We emphasize physical education, creative expression, and adventure activities as a way to channel intense physical energy into confidence-building activities that serve as positive coping skills.
- Teaching communication skills. As a relationship-based program, students learn how to live with others, work with others, and offer emotional support. By learning to identify and understand their own emotional experiences, they are better able to connect with others through empathetic and respectful communication.
- Encouraging mindfulness and self-reflection. Our goal is to teach students how to regulate their emotions when they begin to feel overwhelmed by cultivating greater awareness through deep breathing, journaling, and setting intentions.
- Addressing underlying issues. Instead of assuming she is just stubborn or defiant, we explore how possible anxiety or self-esteem issues may contribute to anger management issues.
Asheville Academy for Girls is a therapeutic boarding school for middle school girls, ages 10-14 that helps students with deal with anger outbursts by learning how to identify root causes of anger and practice self regulation. Anger is a normal emotion and it is generally healthy to be able to express anger, but it can be associated with behavioral issues, aggression, or defiance if it is not well understood or controlled. Our treatment team works with students to learn how to recognize underlying issues that affect impulsive anger outbursts and to communicate their anger in healthy ways. Our staff build close connections with students and apply individualized strategies to help de-escalate students in crisis and offer emotional support. Students learn how to regulate their anger by adopting healthy coping skills through art therapy, recreation activities, and equine-assisted therapy.
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