February 27th, 2012 | 17 Comments

12 Ways to Help An Angry Child Manage their Anger

Note to Readers: As a parent, dealing with an angry child is inevitable and feared by all. Many of us have heard our own pre-parenting voice  whisper to us….”That will never be my kid having a fit like that!”  (Famous last words) Many adults do not handle anger in a healthy manner because they were not given the skills as a child to express anger in a healthy way. Breathing and visualizing putting anger into bubbles is one of my favorite ways to rid our bodies of anger. Elizabeth shares her experience and empowering anger management tips for you and your children.

by Elizabeth O’Shea

Just like adults, children get angry. And due to their inexperience they don’t have the experience or self-control to know how to deal with it. By our actions we help our little ones learn how to deal with frustrations. If they live in a household where shouting and hitting are acceptable they will copy this behaviour from the adults around them. The important message we need to give to our children is:

It is OK to be angry, but not to hurt people or propertyAngry Child

So how do we teach our children acceptable ways of expressing anger?

  1. By modeling what we want them to do –such as taking time out when we are angry, asking assertively for what we want and by finding an appropriate outlet for our physical energy
  2. Find an object that helps your child calm down. Some children will be comforted by a blanket, special soft toy, or soft cushion.
  3. By having an area or corner where they can go when they feel angry – and have materials to draw an angry picture, rip up newspaper, bubble wrap to stamp on, a punch ball or pillow to punch, or a mini trampoline to jump on.

Although some of these are not ‘adult’ ways of behaving, it can help if a child can make small steps towards dealing with their anger until they are mature enough to try different strategies.

  1. Ways of getting rid of pent-up angry energy can be running up and down the garden ten times or running up and down the stairs twenty times. A drum kit in the garage can also be very therapeutic!
  2. Taking time out – both for adults and children can be a useful strategy.
  3. Some parents find holding their child firmly helps the child feel safe when they are angry. But do this with caution – an angry child can be quite violent, and some children may feel that physical restraint is a punishment and kick against you.
  4. Older children may find that retreating to a quiet room helped. Maybe reading a book to take their mind off the situation. Or listening to a relaxation CD.
  5. Listening to high-energy music may be useful. My youngest daughter used to dance vigorously to Billy Elliott’s ‘Angry Dance’.
  6. Playing with a pet, especially a dog, can help as children feel their pets are accepting. But don’t suggest this strategy if your child may hurt their pet.
  7. Older children may find writing a letter is useful, although it may be best not to send it if it was written in the heat of the moment. Ceremonially setting fire to it in a baking tray can be quite satisfying.
  8. Teach them to explain how they feel assertively. Get them to fill in the blanks in the sentence ‘I feel….when…. because….and I want…..’
  9. You can also ask your child what they find helps when they feel angry – If you give them time to think they may be able to suggest some great strategies of their own that work for them.

And finally when they are angry about a situation teach children to problem solve. Sit down and get them to write down a whole load of potential solutions to their problem. Add solutions of your own at the end and get them to choose which solution they want to try.

Elizabeth is a parenting specialist in the UK and runs a variety of parenting courses in West Sussex and London. She lives in Horsham with her husband and four children. She wants to help parents raise children with confidence, self-reliance, self-esteem and who can achieve their full potential. She teaches very practical skills to encourage cooperation, ensure good relationships between parent and child and manage challenging behaviour.

E-mail elizabeth@parent4success.com

Visit www.parent4success.com to download my free e-book ’20 top tips for parents’ 

Follow me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Parent4SuccessCourses  
Follow me on twitter: www.twitter/parent4success 

Angry Octopus is an anger management story  available as a book, lesson plan, audio CD, and animated app.

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17 Comments on “12 Ways to Help An Angry Child Manage their Anger”

  • I think the improtant thing here is that the child chooses what is going to work for them when it comes to anger as it is so personal. Great ideas and nice to meet you Elizabeth – we should connect.

  • Great article…love the tangible ways in which to help kids and even adults, deal with anger! Thanks for posting this!

  • Hi there,

    What’s up, just wanted to tell you, I loved this post? It just so very helpful. Keep on posting!

  • Thank you. I will be sure to pass this along to Elizabeth!

  • Yes, having something tangible for such a difficult emotions is hands on helpful.

  • Yes you two should connect! I too love the choice…it is all about empowering children.

  • Hi Naomi, Thank you for your kind comment. Children can get so frustrated at times, it is great to go through the list with them and see what they want to try first. I would love to link up with you. Lori has been so thoughtful in re-posting my blog.

    And thank you for your comments Playful Rani, and Older Mum. I have also written two other blogs, one on helping teenagers manage their anger and
    Beating Anger –tips for parents. Sounds like you may be interested in these too.

  • I like that you have so precise ways of dealing with anger. For me, I think it’s important for the caregivers not to be angry or quarreling or raising voices.. maybe frustration grunts are acceptable?! My toddler has eczema and I hope she doesn’t grow up with behavioral problems due to self-esteem or bully – now she’s happily in pre-school at 2 year old, don’t think she’d run into such issues yet but teens with eczema seem to be quite tough on them due to the image being important at that age.

    I’ve a blog for parents w eczema kids, eczemablues.com and hosting a twitter party on 16 Mar to share what works for eczema!

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  • Great Article! I totally agree, the first step to teaching our children to deal with their anger and emotions is for us the parent(s) to show them the proper way of handling a situation by setting an example ourselves. Children will pick up any traits from their parents and copy every situation thinking that its the correct one just because their parents do it also. But great list of tips because I use a few myself. I also try to talk to them calmly and offer something of interest hoping that will make them relax. Thanks!

  • Hi MarcieMum -It can be tough for a child with Eczema, and great to have some techniques to use when your child is frustrated. The constant itching can drain a child’s energy so they have less tolerance when things annoy them.
    And Michael – It sounds like you have a lot of patience with your children -what a great asset for any parent. Good for role modelling and for keeping cool when your child loses theirs!

  • Nice work. Keep it comin’! 🙂

  • Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again. I am taking your feeds also

  • […] Just like adults, children get angry. And due to their inexperience they don’t have the experience… […]

  • Hi Elizabeth, thank you for the post. It is very helpful to the child in coping with anger. Adults have more sense and when they them selves getting anger, they may go from that place or they’ll manage their selves but children are not like that and don’t have that much thinking ability. So they can hurt others or break the property. You need to teach them how to control their anger.

  • I’m raising my four grandchildren, my seven year old granddaughter is very angry because her mother is not there and takes it out on who ever is in her path at the moment. I have tried everything, one on one time with her, time out, talking to her getting her to talk to me about how she feels. when she has good days they are good and very few but when she has bad days we as a family fill her wrath. My husband doesn’t believe in counseling. I love this little girl with all my heart. but she is wearing me down. highly intelligent and very manipulate. Please help.

  • Hi great read, any tips for my 8 yr old boy, he gets very angry from frustration when playing football. He has a tendency to argue with the referee, his teammates and the other team. it’s getting to the point where his coaches will ask him to leave!

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