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Looking for materials to help children with anger and fear

I presently own and operate a childcare and learning facility. I’m starting to provide care for a great deal of very young children who are show all signs of being angry, and many have express their anger towards family members, especially towards the parents; I am also getting quite a few children who have expressed their fears of starting school because of so much shooting and killing going on in the schools. What type of material would be good to help these children, thank-you for any help that you may have to offer? – Anita C.

4 Comments to “Looking for materials to help children with anger and fear”
  1. Hi Anita,

    This is a great question. I used to with a regional Head Start program and I know that problematic displays of anger and aggression is a growing problem in those working with young children. Here an evidence based article for you: http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/modules/module2/handout7.pdf What I like about this article is that it offers practical suggestions as well as the research. I was glad to see the authors’ note that telling children to “calm down” is rarely effective and can often invite further escalation! The article includes a lovely cognitive based intervention to help children go inside and self-regulate.

    In addition to the useful suggestions in this article, you may want to keep a few things in mind:

    First, our brains have “mirror neurons.” When the children in your care escalate, your brain will tend to do the same thing to some degree. You will want to have strategies you use to calm yourself down as you try to support your kids.

    In addition, some of the children and parents in your care may have some experiences of toxic stress or trauma – that will mean that their biology is such that their brain goes into “emergency mode” quicker than others’ brains. Helping families understand a basic trauma framework can also be helpful if they are open to learning about that.

    And finally, remembering to effectively reinforce children for their abilities to calm down is important for the child who is frustrated and for their peers observing the interaction. Sometimes caregivers are so relieved to have missed the explosion that we just get back to business as usual. It helps to use the opportunity to celebrate the child’s increasing capacity to self-regulate.

    You can email me at PositiveParent@earthlink.net if you would like to think together more about your important questions. Best of luck to you –

  2. Anita,

    Your caring as a care giver is wonderful. Taking time, in what must be for you very busy days, to look for ways of dealing with needs of the children for whom you are responsible is what makes day care a viable option for parents.

    I could give you a list of the usual things that you could do. There might be items that would help. There undoubtedly would be suggestions that would not help … and most of my ideas you most likely have already thought of.

    However, I would be more than willing to talk with you and figure out together how you can help the young children in your care deal with their anger and anxiety. Some of the issues that are important to consider are:
    Ages of the children involved. As you undoubtedly know, how children’s needs are met varies with age as do the approaches that made to meet those needs..
    Temperament of the children involved.
    Circumstances in the each child’s life.
    How involved each parent is and the values of those parents as well as yours.

    So if you are interested, lets set up a phone call. Tell me sometimes when you can be free and give me your phone number. I have national service and will be happy to call you.

    Harriet Heath, PhD
    Visiting Faculty DePaul University, Chicago
    Director Emeritus
    The Parent Center
    Thorne School/Child Study Institute
    Bryn Mawr College

  3. HI Anita,

    Ruth and Harriet have shared really valuable information with you. I second what they say and will piggy-back on it.

    I have been training early childhood educators for over 25 years and am currently helping to co-author programs and resources for http://EarlyChildhoodToolshop.com. We will be offering on-line training programs for ECE’s in 2014 and helping children learn anger/stress management skills is definitely one of the workshop topics we offer. Here is a link to a handout for children we often provide to parents, teachers, ECEs and other adults in childrens’ lives. It is reprinted with permission from http://www.KidsHaveStressToo.org.
    http://pt-resources.s3.amazonaws.com/freebies/KidsHaveStressToo.pdf.

    You can get more information, specifically for ECEs and young children at their site:
    http://psychologyfoundation.org/index.php/programs/kids-have-stress-too/preschool/

    I have also been training foster parents for about 25 years. Their foster children also often experience intense anger, fears and even PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). An “alternative” technique I’ve been teaching parents, foster parents and other adults for about 15 years is EFT: Emotional Freedom Technique. It involves tapping on 7-12 meridian points (where needles are put in acupuncture, but there are no needles!). It has decades of research showing its benefits, not only for PTSD but it is especially effective in helping children and adults remove fears and phobias, and even the physical symptoms of long-term stress. This piggy-backs on what Ruth was explaining in her comment about the neural pathways, etc. The chemical changes that happen during anger/stress can take a toll on the body, eventually resulting in a variety of physical symptoms and medical conditions. Here is a link to http://www.EFTuniverse.com, where you can get a free manual explaining the science of the technique and exactly how to do it.

    What I really like, though, is teaching EFT to children as “tapping their happy points,” which can be done with a corresponding song or rhyme. There are discussion areas on the EFT site where therapists and others share how they have used EFT for a vast number of conditions and share exactly what they said and did. On every page of the site, in the left menu, look for a drop down menu labeled “choose a topic.” One of the options is “Children/Parenting.” It takes you to this page: http://www.eftuniverse.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9308.

    Once you learn this amazing, simple, easy, one-minute technique, you’ll find yourself using it for all kinds of stressful situations and even physical conditions YOU have! Your ECE’s will love it, too. It’s truly amazing! I know dozens, maybe hundreds of people, including me, who have experienced almost-miraculous results! Try it! It can’t hurt!

    Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE
    P.O. Box 343, Springboro, OH 45066
    937-748-4541 / fax: 937-748-4620
    PTCinfo@ParentsToolshop.com

    Building Healthy Families — From the Foundation Up, with the Universal Blueprint® for Parenting Success
    http://www.ParentsToolshop.org
    https://www.facebook.com/parentstoolshop
    https://twitter.com/parentstoolshop
    http://www.pinterest.com/parentstoolshop/

  4. I’m a former preschool teacher and Director of Early Childhood Education and am a psychologist. I have many free resources on my website on helping children (and adults) with anger. My books help children learn how to use their feelings wisely.