Page header image

Anger Management: Teach Children How to Deal with Their Anger

________________________________________________________________________

KEY POINTS

  • Anger is a natural emotion. But anger that is out of control can be dangerous for your child and for others.
  • You can teach your child healthy ways to deal with anger, and remind your child to practice new ways to cope with feelings.
  • It also helps if you set a good example for your child.

________________________________________________________________________

What is anger?

Anger is a natural emotion. It’s often a response to feeling threatened, mistreated, or blocked from reaching a goal. Anger can be healthy when it gives energy to correct wrongs. But anger that is out of control can be dangerous for your child and for others.

It’s best to teach children how to manage anger before they enter their teenage years. The earlier children learn these skills, the better they will be able to deal with anger in healthy ways.

What is anger management?

Managing anger does not mean that your child never feels angry or that your child holds in anger and never expresses it. Managing anger means that your child learns:

  • What triggers the anger
  • Signs that mean he or she is getting angry such as when feeling tense or upset inside
  • How to deal with anger in healthy ways

Healthy ways for your child to deal with anger include:

  • Take a time out. Teach your child to go for a walk or into another room for 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Think about something else. For young children, blowing pretend bubbles is a good technique. It is easy and teaches your child to take long, slow breaths. Start by blowing real bubbles using a bubble solution and wand and then have your child pretend to blow bubbles the same way but without the bubble solution and wand. Teach your child to do this as soon as your child starts to feel frustrated or upset.
  • Do something physical. Teach older children to do something physical such as walking, running, or bicycling. Listening to music and singing along can also be a good distraction.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Teach your child to:
    • Take several deep, slow breaths.
    • Relax all muscles one group at a time starting with the forehead and scalp muscles, then the jaws, the neck, and so on.
    • Imagine a comforting or pleasant scene.
  • Practice new ways for your child to handle anger using role playing techniques. Once your child becomes comfortable using a new technique, your child is more apt to use it when needing it.
  • Delay responses. When your child feels angry, teach your child to count to 10. Learning a phrase that helps your child relax or calm down repeated under stress can be very helpful. For an older child, it helps to use self talk, such as, "I do not have to let this bother me. This will pass. It's not a big deal."
  • Express feelings in words. Teach your child to use words rather than hitting, biting, throwing things, or having tantrums. Help your child learn to use "I" statements, such as "I feel angry," rather than blaming or attacking the other person.
  • Express feelings using art. Have your child draw pictures of the anger. Your child may want to make a poster of things he or she does to calm down.
  • Talk about it. Encourage your child to talk with a trusted friend, family member, teacher, coach, or healthcare provider about life stresses to help calm down.

How can I help my child?

To help your child learn, you can:

  • Remind your child to practice new ways to manage anger. The sooner you prompt your child, the easier it will be for your child to try it. Don’t wait until your child loses control.
  • Praise your child and let your child know what he or she did right. Reward positive behaviors. Rewards can help your child learn healthy ways to manage anger. With your child, make a list of rewards that your child can earn by practicing the behavior every day. Also be sure to tell your child when you notice your child expressing anger in words, practicing relaxation techniques, or taking a time out.
  • Read or tell stories to your child about anger to give ideas of good ways to cope with feelings. Tell your child about times when you get angry and stressed and what you do. For example, “When I get mad I take a deep breath and count to ten. When I calm down, I try to think of the best way to deal with the problem.”
  • Set a good example and deal with your child in a quiet, calm manner. When you discipline your child, use time-outs rather than yelling or hitting your child.

If your child still has problems handling anger, talk with your child’s healthcare provider or a mental health professional.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-10-25
Last reviewed: 2017-10-16
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
Page footer image