We all get angry sometimes—even kids. It’s natural to feel anger when we’re frustrated or disappointed, or when life seems unfair. Even so, when your child is angry, it can feel like you’re walking on eggshells. You want to know what’s going on.
When kids are little, they may get frustrated and lash out because they can’t communicate their needs. Young kids also often act without thinking. This can lead to angry outbursts and broken toys.
Once kids start school, most learn to talk about their needs. They gain self-control and become calmer. But some kids keep having flashes of anger through grade school and beyond.
Older kids (like your fourth grader) may have anger issues because things are hard for them. Fourth grade is a uniquely difficult time for lots of kids. Kids who struggle in school, for example, get frustrated when they keep falling short even when trying their best. They may feel like they’re letting their family and teachers down.
Getting into trouble all the time can be upsetting for kids, too. Or kids may feel bad because they don’t have friends—or are teased or made fun of. Over time, these negative feelings can turn into anger.
A child’s sense of fairness also comes into play when kids feel shortchanged or treated badly. Kids may think it’s not fair that they struggle, while others have it easy. They may feel like they got a raw deal in life.
A sibling relationship can make it harder. If one child seems to get more attention in the family, the other might feel angry. Or if things just seem to come more easily to the sibling.
Sometimes, other issues are at play. Experts say that kids with ADHD often have trouble with anger. The same is true for kids who are anxious or who have experienced trauma. A few kids also have severe emotional troubles, which can show up at an early age.
What can you do about your child’s anger? Start by looking for patterns. If your child is grumpy every night when you ask about homework, it could have something to do with schoolwork. If it’s dinnertime, it could be that your child is hungry. Try
keeping track of when your child seems angry to help figure out what’s going on. And find out more about why some kids struggle with managing their emotions.