7 Ways to Help an Angry Child

Angry child
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It’s incredible how some children – despite their small size – seem to have an endless supply of anger buried inside them. Dealing with an angry child can stir up a lot of emotion for adults. It can be embarrassing, confusing, and frustrating.

If you’re raising an angry child, it’s important to teach new skills and strategies that can reduce your child’s angry outbursts. Here are seven ways to help your child learn to cope with angry feelings in a prosocial manner

1. Teach Your Child About Feelings

Kids are more likely to lash out when they don’t understand their feelings or they’re not able to verbalize them. A child who can’t say, “I’m mad,” may be more prone to show you that he’s angry. Or a child who isn’t certain how to explain that he’s sad, may misbehave to get your attention.

Begin teaching your child basic feeling words – mad, sad, happy, and scared. As your child develops a better understanding of his emotions and how to describe them, teach him more sophisticated words such as frustrated, disappointed, worried, and lonely.

2. Help Your Child Recognize His Anger

Teach your child to recognize when he’s starting to become angry. Create an anger thermometer as a visual tool where 1 represents calm and 10 represents feeling very angry. Talk about what happens to your child’s body at each number on thermometer.

For example, a child may say he’s smiling when he’s at a level one but when his anger goes up to a level five, he has a mad face.

By the time his anger gets to a level 10, he may describe himself as an angry monster. Talk about how his body feels when he grows angry – such as he might feel his face get hot – and what he does when he feels angry – such as he makes fists with his hands. When kids can learn to recognize their warning signs, it will help them understand the need to take a break, before their anger explodes at a level 10.

3. Develop a Plan to Help Your Child Calm Down

Teach your child what to do when he begins to feel angry. Rather than throw blocks when he’s frustrated, or hit his sister when he’s annoyed, teach him +alternative strategies that can help him remain calm.

Encourage your child to put himself in time-out when he’s upset. Show him that he doesn’t need to wait until he makes a mistake and get sent to time-out, but instead, he can go to his room for a few minutes to calm down when he begins to feel angry. Encourage him to color, read a book, or engage in another calming activity until he’s calm enough to resume his activity.

4. Teach Specific Anger Management Techniques

Teach your child specific anger management techniques – like taking deep breaths. Teach a variety of other skills, such as impulse control skills, empathy, and self-discipline.

5. Make Sure Angry Outbursts Aren’t Effective

Sometimes kids exhibit angry outbursts because it’s an effective way to get their needs a met. If a child throws a temper tantrum and his parents give him a toy to keep him quiet, he’ll learn that temper tantrums are effective.

Don’t give into your child to avoid a meltdown. Although that may be easier in the short-term, in the long run giving in will only make behavior problems and aggression worse.

6. Follow Through with Consequences When Necessary

Consistent discipline is necessary to help your child learn that aggression or disrespectful behavior isn’t acceptable. If your child breaks the rules, follow through with a consequence each time. Time-out or taking away privileges can be effective discipline strategies.

7. Avoid Violent Media

If your child struggles with aggressive behavior, exposing him to violent TV shows or video games isn’t going to be helpful. Prevent him from witnessing violence and instead, focus on exposing him to books, games, and shows that model healthy conflict resolution skills.