In today’s world, it is commonplace to see behaviors of anger and aggression brewing in children and their lack of control over it. One is often led to wonder what has lead to this uncharacteristic rise of anger in children; perhaps it is the unhealthy lifestyles and excessive stress? Perhaps it is their negligence and inherent reaction to the rising issues in the modern world? However, parents tend to adopt the indifferent and impassive techniques of parenthood, avoiding conflict and giving in to their child’s demands, rather than getting to the root of the problem and understanding why their child is displaying aggressive reactions in the first place.
What we do not often realize is that children are heavily influenced by the behaviors of the parents themselves and they tend to instinctively internalize their parent’s behaviors. In most cases, the child illustrates angry reactions and aggressive behaviors as a reaction to the anger showcased by the mother or the father in their household. When a child misbehaves or acts out, the parents are often dumbfounded and tend to respond with even harsher words and actions, such as beating, as a means to ‘discipline’ their child.
Just like other human instincts, anger resides in an individual's biological makeup since the very beginning. However, the level of this instinct’s expression and the display is an outcome of the environment and parenting style that the child has been exposed to. If the parents themselves generally adopt a more composed and calm approach in their daily lives, the child is less likely to act out in anger. Hence it becomes pertinent that parents focus on the pattern of the child’s aggressive behavior and try to find out the cause behind it and work towards eliminating it.
In order to work towards improving their child’s angry outbursts and behaviors, parents need to be cognizant of the following things in particular.
Learn from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
If we believe ourselves to be the Ummah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), we must also be aware of the fact that he never hit his wife, or servant, or a child, no matter what the circumstances. Perhaps, this in itself, goes to show how beating only festers the problem rather than rectifying it.
Understand the problem
Find the root of the problem and investigate why the child is acting out, instead of irrationally responding to the child’s behavior being displayed at that point in time.
Begin with yourself
We cannot expect our children to illustrate any sort of restraint and self-control if we, as parents, do not do the same in our daily lives. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their child how to adopt a relaxed and calm approach in life, no matter what the issue at hand. Acting out in anger will not solve anything.
Practice what you preach
Be sure to follow through with your own instructions as well. Parents are the basic role models for their children and their character building starts and ends with the parents.
Mind your tone
The tone that you utilize with your child, is the tone your child will instinctively copy. Instead of shouting, which further distresses them, resort to discussing your child’s feelings with them and talk about it. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) never raised his voice, or lost his temper and was seen to always talk in a mild tone with elders and children alike.
Do not be condescending with your children. As a parent, you should never look down upon your children or make them feel small or not worthy enough. That approach will shatter their developing self-esteem. Even if they misbehave, try to reason with them instead of blaming them. If you give your children respect, only then will you earn it in return.
Be patient with children
The whole ordeal of bringing up a child is not a bed of roses. It can be tiresome and it can be a real test of this world. They have much to learn in their earlier years and patience is key to rear them up as good human beings. They do not know what is good for them and what is not. Don’t lose your temper with them, and practice patience.
Help them control their anger
Teach them little ways of curtailing their anger. For example, teach them calming techniques, to perform ‘wuzu’ if they feel angry, it will calm them down. Or to sit down if they are standing up. Or to take one minute and remain quiet and take deep breaths. If the child succeeds in calming himself/herself down, be sure to let them know how proud you are of them and reinforce that calming act with a token of achievement.
To feel anger is to be human and it is inevitable. But, it is important to note that feelings of anger are inevitable but angry reactions are not; one needs to be able to distinguish between the two. Controlling anger is one of the characters possessed by a true Muslim. According to our Prophet (PBUH):
"The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger." (Sahih Al Bukhari, Vol. 8, Hadith. No. 6114)
So overcome anger in yourself and teach your children to do the same. Practice patience, love, and self-restraint and lead by example.