Angry children: Part 1

– Hello and welcome to
another Maggie Moment. Several weeks ago, on Facebook we had some interaction around
angry children after school particularly young children
under eight or nine. And I talked a little
bit at the time about how a large number of those, that were throwing spacks
in the car on the way home were our lads. And I explained some of
the reasons for that. I wanna explain that a little bit more because those anger outbursts don’t just happen after school some days. They happen in shopping centers,
and they happen at home, and they happen in these random moments. And I know how much angst
it causes our parents. You know, immediately we
think, “Oh my God, I’m failing. “This isn’t okay. What
do I do to stop this? “There must be something bad going on.” And I want to remind you
all that young children are building, what we
call, the upstairs brain. The prefrontal cortex,
which is where we as adults have hopefully, a little
bit better impulse control delay gratification,
empathy, understanding. So, young children take
a whole lifetime really, to be able to build that
part of their brain. So, what happens when
there’s an unmet need, is they will tip and overload
into the lower brain, which is the primitive brain. So that’s when they’ll go
into really big ugly feelings and anger is a really big one of those. So let’s take, for example, a child who has had a really lousy night’s sleep before they go to school. And don’t start me on how we’re
overloading young children with the formalized learning because that’s just making
me as cross as anything. Those sorts of things are
overloading our children again. Them being made to sit still longer. They’re being made to listen to lots more boring
as bat poo information, when we used to have them massively engaged in play activities, building social emotional confidence and having some fun in those early years. So when you overload that little brain, it’ll trigger and tip
into big ugly feelings. What really, really– well shall we say, kids
really wanna be good because they get– they get
rewards from being good. They get rewards from mommy and daddy, and they get rewards from their teachers. She might smile at them and
all those sorts of things. So, when they’re trying
really, really hard all day their trying-hard bucket
is completely empty when they jump in your car,
and it will just tip over. Because you are a safe
harbor for them to come to. So as they get closer to the safe harbor all the big ugly things come up. And I’ve even noticed that children that go to Out Of School Hours care, they actually manage it right the way through
till they’re picked up. So as soon as the safe harbor comes in out comes the safety of
me, to bring up all these big ugly feelings and being children, they are unable to
articulate what they are. Now, anger looks the same as frustration. So it’s not always specifically anger. And let me go, once
again, briefly to boys. Boys actually channel
almost all their feelings through to anger, because
it’s actually a warrior-like emotion, that makes them looks like they’ve got some control
and they’re tough. Underneath it is often
incredible feelings of sadness, feelings of overwhelm,
feelings that no one likes me, feelings this is too hard,
feelings this is dumb, feelings that I’m
frustrated and I don’t know what the heck is going on, and I don’t know how to
win in this environment. So keep in mind that boys
will often go to anger when they’re often feeling other feelings like sadness and frustration. Another thing that’s frustrating and tipping our children over, is we’re giving them way too much, too many things to do before
they’re developmentally ready. So, every single child has a
different wiring in their brain for, what we call spaces of new learning. So some children can have
three, plus or minus two, some have seven, plus or minus two. So if you’re sitting those two children down next to each other, the child with three
spaces for new learning may have it all filled up by morning tea. So they get really frustrated when their brain can’t retain
whatever else is coming on. They can’t think very well because that’s not a really nice place for the brain to be in. And if they’re not drinking enough water and they’re also eating high-sugar food, those little cherubs are
going to be struggling in that environment. And then there’s all the
social and emotional things that young children are still working out. Where do I fit? How do I belong? And what do I do if no
one wants to play with me? So when your child throws
a massive anger attack as they get into your car, we want you to be the safe harbor. We want you to recognize
they’re tipped over into a massive cortisol download, and no, they’ve not planned it. It’s just a childlike overwhelm. And we need to be the big
people that hold the safe space. I’d probably head for the park. And I’ve talked about this before, I’d make sure they’ve got some water to drink as quickly as possible. If it’s boys, probably food. We’re the big people
have to somehow or other help our little kids create serotonin, which is a brain chemical that calms, or dopamine, which means, “Wow I’m having some fun, at last.” So sometimes, that trip to the park, trip somewhere else on the way home might be able to help them
resettle their energy clock, but also their, “I’m back in a safe place “and I can have some fun now.” So remember our children are developing how to manage big ugly
feelings as children. And the one after school is often a relief that they’re back, near someone who cares
for them and loves them. So please reframe it
that, you’re not failing. It’s a sign that you’re a safe person that’s gonna help me manage
these big ugly feelings. And until next time. I hope that helps a bit.

5 thoughts on “Angry children: Part 1

  1. Thanks Maggie – I have two little boys, one who is in 5 years old and comes home from his day at Prep, gets off the bus and is just downright nasty to his 4y/o brother. Mean and nasty, bossy and dominating. I've been wondering why and how I can help him – once when I sat down with him for a cuddle afterwards, he burst in to tears because a child in his class hadn't shared his pencils with him and said they weren't friends. Once we got it all out – he was fine. Thanks so much for your vids.

  2. I love your explanation of the common 'after-school meltdown', Ms. Dent. I am passing this along to my parent clients and online community. Thank you.

  3. You are the most kindest Child centred therapist I’ve ever listened to. I am so glad I have found your podcast. I shall be listening and learning from now on from your channel and maybe I can glean some advice to help my grandchildren. Thank you so much you are such a special lady. 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹

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