How to Help Your Child Deal with Anger

Anger Management Skills for Children and Parents

Anger can be a big scary emotion for kids to deal with, but you can help your child with these useful tips.

Talk about Feelings

If you express how you feel on a daily basis your children will learn how too. Say when you are feeling happy, sad, excited, angry, frustrated or nervous. This way your children learn it is okay to have feelings, even big ones, and that it is safe to express them. Talking about feelings will also help them in dealing with conflict and solving problems.

Don’t Cover up Feelings

Don’t deny or make excuses for your feelings. If you are crying, don’t tell your kids you are fine. Say you are feeling sad. You don’t need to get into details about why, but you should acknowledge your feelings. The same if you are feeling angry. Don’t say you are not angry and then slam the door as you leave the room. You want children to be able to use their words to talk about their feelings instead of throwing tantrums or getting violent because they feel overwhelmed by emotion. If parents can’t verbalize their emotions, it’s an unrealistic expectation to think that their children can.

State your Action Plan

If you are upset, talk about how you are going to deal with the situation. If you spilled coffee on your computer, you can say you made a big mistake and then come up with options. You can wipe it up and see if it works. If it doesn’t work, you can get it repaired or you may have to buy a new one. But talk about the process so children see that you can take action and improve the situation. You want your kids to learn that they don’t have to be victims, they can take control.

Accept your Child’s Feelings – No Matter What

Losing a dollar might not be a big deal for a grown-up, but it could feel like $100 to a young child. If a child is screaming and crying – resist the urge to say, “it’s nothing, stop your crying.” Instead, acknowledge the child’s feelings. Ask the child if she wants a hug or needs some time alone. The goal is for a child to know her feelings are important and that no judgment will be passed on her for whatever emotion she is feeling. You also want a child to learn that you trust her to handle those feelings and that it’s okay to get support from others if she needs it.

Help Children Handle Feelings Assertively

You’ll need to help your kids verbalize how they’re feeling. Children can say and do all sorts of things when they are angry that can push your buttons, so doing the following can be a real test of your patience. Part of disciplining your children is being disciplined yourself. Remember to keep your cool and rephrase what they have to say in an appropriate way. Here are some examples:

“You seem really angry about having to leave the toy at the store.”

“ I know it can be upsetting when you lose something important to you. “

“If you feel sad, it’s okay to cry.”

The key to helping kids deal with anger is to make it okay to express all emotions, give them words to describe their feelings, and validate how they are feeling. As well, do your best to stay calm and in control during a charged situation.

References: Coloroso, Barbara. Kids Are Worth It! Revised Edition: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline. NY: HarperCollins, 2002.