Berkshire Counselling and Psychotherapy Services

Anger issues in the family and with children.

Every child deserves respect and dignity in a house but so does every member of the family. Over the last few decades we have shifted from angry parents shouting and spanking the children to this generation where children seem to be the ones who are constantly angry , shouting and showing violence in the house. My clients are parents who are at their wits end of how to deal with their childs anger and my clients are also children who are having friendship issues at school because their anger is damaging their relationship with other children.

Anger has always been a normal emotion but because its expression is heated it often demand good control of emotions, good choice of wordings and good timing to have to effects that the angry person is wanting. An angry child could be saying he is unhappy, ashamed, disappointed, scared, anxious but because these vulnerable emotions create a rush of adrenaline in the body which is scary for the child they do not know how to control it. So they respond to their limbic system's 'flight or fight' mechanism automatically.

Adults also feel that 'flight or fight' trigger when we are scared, anxious, or feeling other vulnerable emotions but because we are socially more aware or more mature we restrain from responding to that automatic urge to react and instead we look into calming ourselves, distancing ourselves and then resolving the internal turmoil with the consequence that we are able to discuss the conflict externally in a calm, measured way and get the person to listen and engage in the conversation because they are not feeling threatened by us.

Children start responding to their limbic 'flight or fight' trigger from the moment they are born; when their nappy is soiled they scream their head off unless someone respond. The two year old respond to the limbic rush of adrenaline when limits are put on their idiosyncratic urge to have their way. They throw a tantrum and the five year old also respond to the same adrenaline rush on the playground by hitting another child who is mocking her. But as time goes and proper skills of control, emotional regulation as well as modelling are being taught the child is understanding inner and outer control over his/her emotions, thoughts, adrenaline control via body control and then negotiation skills , compromising skills to get his message across.

It all sound like a long process but every parent remembers modelling sharing and teaching their child about sharing day in and day out when they were toddlers. Every parent remembers the pride when the same child gets to share in his/her school and the parent forgets the long days of teaching that skill to their child.

Anger as an emotion and its expression is also a skill that can and needs to be taught, especially in this generation where children have more choices, exposure to confrontations via several mediums etc.but parents and children need counselling and psychotherapy when:

  1. their child has become aggressive and is shouting, damaging or hurting the family system.
  2. when school complaints start coming in about their childs behaviour and aggressive behaviours with classmates.
  3. when the parents are out of ideas of what to do to calm and control their childs anger.
  4. when the childs anger is starting to affect his/her self esteem; creating isolation between him and other kids; creating other symptoms e.g. sleep issues, nightmares, concentration issues, bullying issues.
  5. when the parents know they themselves have an anger issues and it is probably going to model the wrong skills to their children, because children learn more of what they see and experience and less of what they are told. These parents know the sooner they do something about their own anger the better for their childrens future skill acquisition to deal with anger.

How does berkshire counselling and Psychotherapy help with anger issues in children and family?

Amreeta Chapman (your counsellor and psychotherapist in Reading, Wokingham , Woodley, Berkshire) has been working with children and families for over fifteen years now and the families she has worked with range from severely angry family system where they all shout and shriek at each other around the dinner table to families where the family system is disturbed by one adult or child in the family creating the havoc.

Parents usually call asking for family therapy, some will ask for parent-child counselling and other parents will ask Amreeta to work with their child in individual counselling. As a counsellor who use solution focused counselling, CBT, psychoanalytic techniques as well as is a psychotraumatologist, Amreeta will have a first session where the problem is understood clearly and goals are drafted clearly as well. Then the sessions are negotiated between clients and the counsellor for either parent child sessions or family sessions and individual sessions. Either way when children are the clients, the family system is involved as the child is still very heavily influenced by the family system.

So it would not be long term gain if the child is helped to learn anger management, emotional regulation and expressing anger and the needs behind in a healthier way when the family system is still full of complications because the child will revert back to status quo within a few months. As a counsellor , Amreeta's job includes working with the parents as well to help with other underlying issues (conflicts in the couple resulting in stress in the family, anger management issues in one of the parents, or communication problems in the family) so that the results achieved are long lasting.

The above is ideal but Amreeta has worked with parent-child counselling where the anger in the child has reduced, better skills are being used, the communication issues between the mother and child is better and siblings rivalry is normal rather than aggressive but where the father refused to engage in the sessions; so he carried on throwing anger tantrums in the family but the rest of the family had to be helped to work around that as he was in denial of his contribution to his child's anger problems...these things happen and a counsellor work with the best resources that the family brings and impart skills, insight, psychoeducation and therapy that will help the child and family as much as possible.

Reading and Wokingham Counselling works within 10-12 sessions of counselling to help clients reach their goals which they clarify from the first session. Counselling stays targeted and goal oriented and although is known as "talking therapy" Amreeta Chapman brings with her experience as clinical Psychologist, Counsellor, Psycho-traumatologist, tools and techniques which aims to help client make long term recovery in their self belief, self confidence, self regulation of their moods and emotions. For more information or questions call Amreeta on 0118 926 9978 or 0786 129 3634. You can also email her your questions by clicking here. Please note that she may be with clients so do leave a message as she aims to answer you within two to three hours. Amreeta understands you are making a huge step ahead by contacting her and she will definitely answer you by call or mail whichever you prefer!

Practices in Reading/Caversham, Wokingham/Bracknell, Woodley/Twyford, Windsor/Slough, covering Berkshire.

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