5 Warning Signs That You Have An Angry Child
Children who seem angry and defiant often have severe, and unrecognized, anxiety. If your child has anxiety, especially if he's hiding it, he may have a hard time coping with situations that cause him distress.
Most children have occasional tantrums or meltdowns. The anger issues of your 4-year-old may just be tantrums, or they may be signs of a bigger issue. When should you worry? Keep reading to find out below:
Here are some signs that the anger issues of your 4-year-old might be more than typical behaviour:
- Your 4-year-old’s tantrums and outbursts are past the age at which they’re developmentally expected
- He has behaviour that's dangerous to himself or others
- His behaviour is causing him serious trouble at school, with teachers reporting that he is out of control
- His behaviour is interfering with his ability to get along with other kids, so he’s excluded from playdates and birthday parties
- He throws tantrums and they are causing a lot of conflict at home and disrupting family life
- He’s upset because he feels he can’t control his anger, and that makes him feel bad about himself
Anger issues of a 4-year-old: Likely Causes Of Anger
When children continue to have regular emotional outbursts, it’s usually a symptom of distress. The first step is understanding what’s triggering your child’s behaviour. There are many possible underlying causes, including:
Many children with ADHD, especially those who experience impulsivity and hyperactivity, have trouble controlling their behaviour. They may find it very hard to comply with instructions or switch from one activity to another, and that makes them appear defiant and angry. Their inability to focus and complete tasks can also lead to tantrums, arguing, and power struggles. That doesn’t necessarily mean there's an ADHD diagnosis. In fact, ADHD is sometimes overlooked in kids who have a history of severe aggression. This is because there are so many bigger issues.
Children who seem angry and defiant often have severe, and unrecognized, anxiety. If your child has anxiety, especially if she’s hiding it, she may have a hard time coping with situations that cause her distress. She may then lash out when the demands at school, for instance, put pressure on her that she can’t handle. In an anxiety-inducing situation, your child’s “fight or flight” instinct may take hold. She may throw a tantrum or refuse to do something to avoid the source of acute fear.
Trauma or neglect
The result of trauma, neglect, or chaos at home is a lot of acting out in school. Kids who are struggling, not feeling safe at home can act like terrorists at school. They can have a fairly intimidating kind of behaviour. Most at risk, are kids with ADHD who’ve also experienced trauma.
When your child acts out repeatedly in school or during homework time, maybe he has an undiagnosed learning disorder. Say he has a lot of trouble with math, and math problems make him very frustrated and irritable. Rather than ask for help, he may rip up an assignment. Or he may start something with another child to create a diversion from his real issues.
Sensory processing issues
Some children have trouble processing the sensory information they are getting from the world around them. If your child is oversensitive to stimulation, things like too much light or noise can make her uncomfortable, anxious, distracted, or overwhelmed. That can lead to meltdowns for no reason that’s apparent to you or other caregivers.