Help Your Child Deal with Anger

Anger is a feeling that all children experience. An infant's hungry cry, a toddler's temper tantrum, a preschooler's angry push, a school-ager's hurtful taunt, or a teenager's hostility are all vivid reminders that anger is no stranger to childhood.

All children will experience anger in one way or another. And all children will learn how to cope with their anger--sometimes in a way that is "helpful" and sometimes in a way that is "hurtful."

Anger in children is normal. It is the expression of anger, rather than the anger itself, that becomes problematic. Managing anger helps children recognize symptoms of their anxiety, stand back and look at their reactions objectively so that they can choose more acceptable ways to express their emotions. 

Learning how to "take charge" of angry feelings is an important lifelong skill. Caring adults can help children learn how to handle anger in ways that are effective and helpful.

Learn to relax

Help children calm their anger by using the five senses: touching, smelling, tasting, hearing, and seeing.

Squeezing play dough, splashing water, running outside, listening to music, painting a picture, tensing and relaxing muscles, taking slow deep breaths, or eating a healthy snack all make good responses to angry feelings.

Learn to communicate

Children can be taught to communicate their feelings in a variety of ways. For some children this may mean talking things over with a friend or caring adult. Children can often explode in anger, yet not be able to tell you what their anger is all about. This may be because their abilities to reason and think logically are not yet well developed.

Teach children to identify their angry feelings by using simple specific statements.
For example, "I feel angry when Mini calls me names because it embarrasses me."

Teach children what to do

Telling a child not to do something works best, when it is followed by something they can do.

You may not:
  • Break something
  • Scream at someone
  • Bite someone
  • Be mean to a pet
  • Hurt yourself
  • Throw a temper tantrum
  • Hit somebody
You may :
  • Hug a soft toy
  • Draw a picture
  • Talk things over
  • Play with clay or water
  • Bounce a ball
  • Take deep, slow breaths
  • Ask for help
Is it OK to fight in front of the kids?

All families have disagreements and arguments from time to time. Watching parents argue can sometimes be a little scary for children, but seeing them resolve their differences in positive ways can offer tremendous stability and security.

Children should not be an audience for physical violence or extremely hostile arguments between parents. The impact of witnessing this kind of anger can have far-reaching effects on children.