Angry children are difficult for parents to deal with, and yet many parents don’t contact a specialist for help until a child’s problems are pretty well entrenched. Why? Because despite the fact most of us approach the major challenge of being a parent with no on-the-job training, we tend to consider ourselves experts. Who knows our children better than we do, after all? Also, because we have the notion that the difficult job of raising a child is supposed to come naturally, many of us think that seeking help is a weakness or shortcoming. Another reason is just simply that many of us wait until we feel our backs are against the wall before taking what we think of as drastic measures.
I have dealt with many angry children over the past 30 years, and I have counseled their parents on how to deal with their child’s anger. Uncovering the pain behind a child’s anger may not be easy but my job as a child psychiatrist is to help you and your child to pinpoint the cause of the anger.
With school having started for many children already and many others heading back in the next couple of weeks parents may begin to see even more outbursts of anger followed by that dreaded call from the school. Shortly after the school year begins, a teacher calls to tell you that your son is behaving badly and doing poorly on his work or your daughter is obnoxious and creating trouble when she gets together with her friends.
Anger manifests itself in many different ways. For a seven-year-old it is a panic attack before school every day and with a teenager it is excessive moodiness. What seemed to just be a normal part of your child’s personality has now taken on pathological proportions; your son was always shy, but now he has no social contacts whatsoever; your worrier, who has always been concerned with details and planning, seems suddenly terrified to touch anything in the house; your child who has always been somewhat of a troublemaker at school is now in trouble with the law and is a substance abuser. This is scary stuff!
So what’s a parent to do? Calling your pediatrician or a child psychiatrist is a good place to start – and the sooner, the better. As much as I wish it were otherwise — a problem caught early is more easily solved, and the pain and damage involved is decidedly less — I’m afraid that is simply human nature.
Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.