Anger is a normal feeling for everyone where we feel it and learn to cope with it. However, it can be hard to manage for a child with an autism spectrum disorder because of the meltdowns that they will portray.
It might be impossible for a person with autism to recognize the feeling of anger.
Despite the challenges, learning to cope with anger is important to learn especially as an autistic child-parent. In this article, we will highlight practical ways in which you can help your child to prevent and manage their anger.
1. Understand the Cause of Anger
You need to understand the cause of your child’s anger to be able to deal with it. However, this can be difficult if your child has trouble communicating their desires and feelings to you. Listen to your child as they tell you what is wrong. Also, you should help your child manage anger by communicating their problems.
In case your child is not able to communicate when angry or frustrated you can use tools for communications or employ an effective communication strategy. You can make visual representations or visual boards of their triggers, emotions, and consequences to aid your child in expressing him/herself.
After identifying the cause, it’s good to steer away from it in future. Also, you should give your child a chance to express him/herself and assure him/her you care about their feelings. In case you don’t have control over their anger trigger, try to shift their focus to something else.
2. Crete a Safe Place for Your Child to Express His/her Anger
Teaching your child how to safely express his/her emotions is a step to helping them learn how to manage anger positively. If the cause of your child’s anger is unavoidable, allow him to express it safely without harming anyone or himself. You can try to distract their anger by giving them a soft pillow to use as a punching bag or scream into. After some time, he will calm after he is tired.
To encourage your child to communicate their feelings. You can encourage your child to write his feelings in a book or journal about what is bothering him. Also, he/she can write a poem, or draw a picture to express emotions.
3. Reach a Compromise
When your child can’t have something they want at the moment, or can’t do something they want try to reach a compromise. For example, if your child wants dessert before dinner, you can try to convince them after eating you will make him/her favorite dessert.
However, you don’t have to take your child’s demands just to refrain them from their bad behaviors. But, it’s good to commend your child when they follow rules or for their good behavior. Positive reinforcement is important while teaching your child to manage anger. It can be as simple as earning starts on a chart and rewarding them after earning a certain number.
4. Use Physical Activities to Ease Tension
Exercise is one way you can use to reduce your child’s high energy levels. You need to find an activity your child loves like dancing, walking, running, or wrestling. Physical activities help the brain to release endorphins to foster well-being feelings and euphoria. You could also consider going to the neighborhood playground, or taking a nature walk.
5. Use Stress and Anxiety Relieving Toys
When your child is anxious, giving your child stress-relieving toys helps to divert his attention to prevent it from escalating into an angry outburst. Fidget and hand toys occupy your child’s attention. Also, these toys are fun to play with.
You can use toys that are handheld for squeezing, stretching, squished, or spinning for an instant sense of calmness. Some of these toys include; glittery and colorful putties, squeezable stress balls, moldable bubble foams, stretch objects like mouse perched top slice of cheese, long sets of clicking links, tabletops spinners, bristle brushes, and more.
Many times children with autism are characterized by difficulties in communication and social interaction, repetitive patterns of interest and behavior. Again It’s never an easy task helping your child to manage their anger more so in stressful situations.
However, if your child is having anger-driven meltdowns and aggressiveness, it is better to be educated on what you can do. Also, you can design your action plan to help your child feel relaxed and comfortable. For instance, you may find your child benefit from relaxing activities or visual supports. While others need alone time to recharge.