Why Kids Need to Release Big Feelings and Aggression Now

Sushi Frausto, MA (LMFT 101031)

The time has arrived. Kids are returning to school. They should be happy and relieved right? Well, not quite yet. 
Many kids are finding the return to school harder and more frustrating than expected. Kids may be experiencing intense feelings of sadness, disappointment, frustration, anxiety, and anger. These feelings affect their mental and physical health. So, what can you do?

First, let’s consider why the kids are feeling this way. For some it is because they are not returning to school, yet their friends are. So, they’re feeling jealous. For those returning to school, there may be fear and anxiety due to their long time away from school. Most have a new teacher, new classroom and some are even going to an entirely new school. On top of that, school days are filled with new safety rules, masks, smaller classes and new restrictions. This means they’re following rigid routines that take extra focus and self-containment.

Let’s consider how kids express their feelings. Often, they don’t. They show feelings. You may notice increased irritability, heightened frustration, grumpiness, sassiness, fatigue, defiance, and aggression. This is most likely the result of pent-up feelings. Holding in these feelings can affect kids’ bodies as much as their moods. Ailments such as tummy aches, constipation, headaches, acid reflux, and soreness may also be noticeable.

The good news is you can help your children release these feelings in a safe, fun way. Think safe activities that burn energy and move the body while allowing aggressive feelings. 

Help your children release pent-up frustration, grumpiness, worry or aggression. Kids will love doing these “crazy” activities with you – as you create the needed space for them to safely let loose.

Allow yourself to let loose with them – which is positive modeling and allows you to release your own feelings! We’ve had a hard year, and we could all benefit from a bit of release. End with a bear hug or a snuggle to signal all is well.

  • Playful Pillow Fights: This classic never gets old. Gather a bunch of pillows and let them fly!
  • “Snowball” Fights: Use cotton balls or scrunched up paper and toss them at each other. Build forts for added fun!
  • Wrestling: Tie pillows to your bodies and bump each other playfully!
  • Trampoline Time: Play silly games or see who can jump the highest.
  • Balloon Games: Use tennis or badminton racquets if you have them, and practice hitting a balloon back and forth to each other. See how many you can get in a row!
  • Popping Bubble Wrap: Lay some bubble wrap on the ground and try jumping on it – or use rubber hammers for extra satisfying pops.
  • Stacking Things Up and Knocking Them Down: Try stacking things up into towers. It can be anything – blocks, cups, etc.! Then, once you have your tower of items, knock it down with balls or even your own hands or feet!
  • Ripping Paper: Grab a bunch of used paper from your recycling bin, and rip them into as many strips as you can! Younger kids might want to use the strips afterwards to make “nests” for stuffed animals.
  • Building Together: Using a hammer (safely) can be super satisfying! Think of something you’d like to build together – like a bird house – or just have fun hammering nails into a board. You could let your little ones practice using some kid-sized tools.
  • Screaming Contests: How loud can your kids scream? Normally, we don’t want to know! But you can make this a fun contest they’ll never forget.
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