Does your son get angry very easily? Does he throw temper tantrums when you try to talk to him? Does he break things, shout at you, and become disrespectful? This is a relatively common problem for parents. While rebellious children aren’t exactly a novel phenomenon, they can be hard to deal with. You simply want your child to listen to you and communicate with you. However, when they get angry, that starts to look unlikely.
For children, anger issues often stem from not being able to process and express other negative emotions such as fear, shame, frustration, and disappointment. Video games suppress negative emotions, and these emotions erupt as anger. Toxic internet culture and underlying mental illness can be contributors too.
Even though video games can cause your son to develop anger issues, the solution is not to ask them to stop playing. That will infuriate them more and exacerbate the problem. Therefore, we will go over a step-by-step solution to your son’s anger issues and teach you how to help him work with his emotions.
If video games are leading your son, helping him overcome it does not have to be a one-person endeavor. It can be difficult to get on the same page as your kid and get him to stop spending the whole day gaming. We’ve worked with thousands of gamers, and we know we can help you, too. Click here to learn more about Healthy Gamer Parent Coaching.
If you think your child's anger issues stem from video game addiction, this quiz can help you determine that:
When Does Your Son Get Angry?
To understand why your son gets angry very easily, we need to understand what triggers his anger. Therefore, we need to look at the specific times at which he gets angry.
Here are some everyday situations in which parents find their children getting angry:
- When the parent tries to talk to their kid while they are playing video games.
- When the parent attempts to talk to the child about their gaming habit.
- When the parent brings up chores or homework and questions the child about their status.
- When the parent questions the child about his plans for his future and the efforts he is making in that direction.
- When asked about relationships outside the home: friendships, romantic relationships, etc.
If we examine these situations closely, we can see that most of them involve talking with the child about specific parts of their life. Chances are that the child finds these aspects painful to talk about. Generally, a child that escapes into video games or other technology for hours on end and finds it difficult to stop playing, does so to escape painful emotions. The child does not know how else to cope, so they latch onto the few things that numb the pain: video games, social media, mindlessly browsing youtube, TikTok, Instagram, etc.
However, while your son might think that these emotions go away by indulging in escapism, they don’t realize that the compulsive behavior of escape from negative emotion changes how their mind works in significant ways.
Why Does Your Son Get Angry Very Easily?
If your child plays video games excessively, there is a chance that he might have developed alexithymia. Alexithymia is the inability to determine your inner emotional state. Moreover, people with alexithymia usually lack the vocabulary to express their emotions.
Additionally, our society teaches boys to hide their emotions. If a boy feels sad or cries, he gets told to “man up”. As a result, men grow up not knowing how to express or process their emotions in a healthy manner. Moreover, our culture also teaches young boys that anger is the only acceptable emotion for a man to show. As a result, they become increasingly alexithymic and only express anger.
In this video, Dr. Kanojia explains how video games affect the emotional and learning circuitry
Thus, when the child eventually faces challenging life situations, he doesn’t know how to feel, process, or express the emotional pain. They bottle it up, and when someone asks them about it, it explodes outwards in the form of anger. These outbursts can be incredibly damaging to them as well as the people around them. Their relationships get affected significantly, and they feel shame because of a lack of “control” over their emotions.
If your child is not doing well in school, does not have many real-life friends, spends most of his day playing video games, then the chances are that he feels shame and guilt. However, since he does not know how to process and express these emotions, they manifest as anger. This anger especially gets triggered by a conversation about the aspects of his life that he is ashamed about.
Toxicity in Gaming Community
Another factor that leads to your son being angry is the fact that online communities are quite toxic. If your child plays a lot of online video games or is present in online video game culture, he may be getting exposed to a lot of toxicity. It could change what he perceives as acceptable behavior and affect his relationships and mannerisms in real life. Combine that with the rebelliousness streak that comes with being a teen, and you get a son who gets angry very easily.
Read more about why video games make you angry by clicking here.
Learned Behavior from Parents
One of the primary ways that children learn how to manage their behavior
In some situations and households, children learn from their parents that getting angry is an acceptable way of dealing with challenging situations. It is not explicitly taught to the child, but if the child sees a parent model this behavior, they pick up on it.
Therefore, parents need to cultivate emotional awareness and manage their emotional state. An emotionally aware parent is crucial for the success of an emotionally aware child.
Additionally, sometimes children become angry very easily because they experience harsh and inconsistent punishment. For example, if you repeatedly punish your child for something that he did not know was unacceptable behavior, they can get frustrated. Therefore, it is crucial not to set vague and rhetorical expectations.
Underlying Mental Health Concerns
In some cases, underlying mental health concerns can also cause your son to become angry very easily. Anger issues can accompany other mental health conditions, including ADHD, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome. If your child displays any symptoms of these conditions, we HIGHLY recommend that you get a clinical evaluation.
How to Help Your Child Overcome His Anger Issues
Give Your Child His Space
If you go into your son’s space (like his room) and try to have a conversation with him, the chances are that he will get agitated. In his mind, his room is his safe space, and asking him questions that make him uncomfortable will appear as an infringement of his space.
The best course of action is to invite him to have a conversation in a neutral area, such as the living room. Help him understand that if he does not want to talk right now, that is okay. Be careful not to force him to talk to you because that will make future attempts to talk more difficult.
Understand his Motivations
To understand why your son gets angry very easily, you need to understand his motivations. What upsets him? Why do some conversations trigger him? If you have been able to get him in a space to have a conversation with him, now is the time to ask him these questions.
In this conversation, it is essential to be transparent, compassionate, and non-judgmental. The chances are that your son feels a lot of shame, and anger is the way he defends himself against those feelings. If he responds angrily, simply acknowledge the anger and don’t react to it negatively. The more authentic you are, the more easily he will open up to you. However, this may not happen in one conversation.
Let him know that if he wants to leave the conversation at any point, then he can. He should not feel like he has to sit there and talk with you. The less bound he feels in that conversation, the easier it will be for him to open up.
Have an Open-Ended Conversation
Ask open-ended questions. Avoid leading your son in any particular direction. Moreover, when he responds to your questions, summarize what he said and how he must be feeling when saying that. It will help him realize that you are actually listening to him, which may not be something that he feels often. This technique is called reflective listening.
If he shares any thoughts that have an emotional backdrop, attempt to validate those emotions first. For example, if he says, “I feel really ashamed about where my life is right now”, don’t try to solve his problem for him. It will lead to more conflict because the issue is that he does not know how to use your advice.
Additionally, attempt to cultivate understanding by reflecting what he said back to him. “It sounds like you’re really stuck. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. It must be tough to wake up every day and feel that shame.” Validating these emotions will make him feel understood and release much of the pent-up emotional tension healthily.
Additionally, by modeling this behavior for him, you are teaching him how to handle that tension. However, he will not learn that in one, two, or even ten conversations. Give him time.
Ask for Support
One of the most underrated aspects of helping your child live his best life is to have access to other parents who are non-judgmental and understanding of your situation.
Healthy Gamer Parent Coaching is a 12-week virtual coaching solution created by Dr. Alok Kanojia, known as Dr. K, the world expert on video game psychology. It covers the most frustrating, difficult, and common dynamics around excessive gaming.
- 12 Weeks of Parent Coaching: Work with your Healthy Gamer Coach in a group format with up to 5 other families to develop strategies and reflect on progress and setbacks in a supportive environment.
- 12 Learning Modules: Cover key concepts of gamer psychology, parent-child communication, and boundary-setting to create an alliance with your child.
- Approach your child’s unique circumstances and psychology in weekly 90-minute Parent Coaching Sessions with a Healthy Gamer Coach.
For 12 consecutive weeks, participants get access to a workshop and Q&A with Dr. K and weekly support groups led by Healthy Gamer Coaches. The dual support structure helps parents get started and follow-through in helping their children combat excessive gaming.
Click here to learn more. Program starts on November 11th, 2021 with limited spots.