Every child copes and reacts in different ways when they’re angry. But there are universally effective ways to mitigate the adverse outcomes of anger management issues.
Physical activity, like martial arts, is an excellent resource for anger management in children. And karate provides a healthy outlet for children, helping them to practice mindfulness and channel their anger into positive results.
If you’re concerned about your child’s anger management issues, here’s what you need to know about anger issues for children, and why martial arts could be the key to a more peaceful way of being for your child.
Anger Management Problems
Anger is a natural response that we feel when we are overwhelmed and experience upsetting, threatening, or unfair situations. It is healthy to feel angry when we have been wronged, disrespected, or mistreated. And this emotion is part of our survival instinct.
And while anger is a normal, healthy, and natural response to unpleasant situations, problems arise when we don’t learn to control our anger in a healthy way. Anger management problems can harm a person’s physical and mental health, along with their interpersonal relationships.
Many stressors in a child’s life can cause them to get angry, such as bullying at home or school, negative relationships with siblings, or conflict in the home, e.g., parents who fight often or are getting divorced. And how a child manages their anger partly depends on how they have been taught to control their anger.
If your child has anger management issues, it’s important to encourage communication with your child so they can tell you what is causing their anger, and you can work with them to address these issues in a healthy way.
Physical Symptoms of Anger
Anger can cause physiological symptoms, such as an increase in adrenaline and blood pressure, heart palpitations, a tight chest, shortness of breath, sinus pressure, headaches, fatigue, and tingling sensations.
These physical symptoms can be very overwhelming for young children. When children are young, they often throw temper tantrums because they have trouble communicating, and these physiological responses to anger are too much for them to handle.
But by showing kids ways to manage their anger, they can learn to remain calm in stressful situations and not let the feelings of anger take over and turn into aggressive behaviour.
How Anger Can Affect Their Future
While anger is a normal human emotion, if uncontrolled, it can lead to aggressive behaviour. And over time, aggression can cause problems at home, in school, and with friends and family members.
Kids who lash out when angry tend to experience the following issues in the future:
- Lack of success in school
- Unemployment in adulthood
- Mental illness
- Physical violence
This is why it is essential to teach anger coping skills for children at a young age.
How Does Karate Help Suppress Anger?
Karate is a workout for both the body and the brain, helping students overcome and relieve negative reactions to stressors in life and control their anger.
Karate classes teach anger strategies for children and ways to suppress anger, including the following anger management techniques:
Breathing and Focusing Techniques
The breathing techniques used in karate help students focus on the task at hand, tune out external distractions, and also reduce the negative physiological responses to anger.
Students learn to focus on every part of their bodies involved with the techniques. And they also learn to act according to the situation at hand, which is essential for anger management.
When they get angry, they have a better understanding of how to act appropriately.
The breathing techniques and physical activity involved with karate classes also help to reduce stress, which is often a trigger for anger. During each session, students must meditate and reflect on the benefits they got out of the class, which helps them take pause and reflect on problems that may have angered them.
Controlling emotions involves controlling one’s perceptions and thoughts, and ultimately how one responds to those thoughts in the form of emotions.
Karate teaches students to control their emotions and provides a safe and healthy outlet for anger. Students learn to focus that anger and release it in a productive manner, such as through striking or kicking a training bag.
Students learn to harness their anger and focus it at an acceptable target instead of fighting out of anger. Martial arts prohibit students from using their anger—they can focus their anger, but they cannot fight angry. If they fight angry, they will not be able to focus on and properly execute the techniques.
Karate students learn to respect their instructors, classmates, and themselves. They cannot act out in class, and they must follow a set of rules, forcing them to be disciplined and learn self-control when it comes to behaviours and emotions.
Even if they are sad when they lose a fight, they must show respect to their opponents.
Being disciplined, meditating, breathing, relaxing, and reflecting all help students practice mindfulness and be better able to deal with anger.
Self-Control & Concentration
Learning self-control and concentration is emphasized in martial arts. Students must stay focused and put their emotions aside to learn and perform techniques properly.
So no matter what emotions they feel going into class, they learn how to control their emotions and behaviours to perform better and show respect in class.
This self-control is essential for learning how to manage anger and control one’s emotions.
Sense of Community & Friendship
Karate classes also provide kids with a sense of community and friendship. This social support network helps kids who are overcoming adverse situations feel less isolated. And their friendships allow them to open up and talk about things that are bothering them, instead of bottling up their emotions.
When kids have good friends by their side, they can feel more confident and able to get through tough times.
The Benefits of Karate Classes For Angry Children
Here are some of the many benefits karate offers for angry children:
- The combination of physical exertion and learning to work through emotions in karate classes can help kids learn to control their anger and be more at peace in other areas of their lives.
- Students are better able to gain a sense of control over the situations and themselves, which results in reduced negative emotional responses and violent behaviors.
- Students who learn karate will not become more aggressive or use their abilities to harm others because they are taught that bullying others and picking fights outside of the dojo (training hall) is prohibited.
- Karate reduces the rate of externalizing behaviors in students, such as physical aggression, verbal and physical bullying, theft, and vandalism.
Karate is a fun method to help reduce anger and aggression and improve the mental wellbeing and quality of life for children. While anger in young children is a normal response to stressors in life, it’s important for kids to learn anger management so they can be better equipped to handle any adverse situations that come their way throughout life.