Having an angry kid can be quite exhausting to deal with.
While working on my Master’s degree in Child Development, and for my undergrad thesis, I studied child temperament. Kids are all different. Some are easygoing and carefree, while others have a more difficult time with transitions, regulating emotions and handling big feelings. If you have an angry kid, just the knowledge that it is ‘normal‘ and that this is a part of their temperament helps. However, there are ways in which you can help your child learn how to deal with anger, and teach them calming tools that they can rely on to cope in the future.
How to Deal with an Angry Kid
Reassure your child that anger is ok. Emotions and feelings should never be punished or made negative. Let your child know that you want them to express their emotions and talk to you if they are feeling angry. But, it is never ok to hurt anyone or anything as a result of that feeling.
Practice mindfulness. Helping kids become aware of their thoughts and feelings can help them recognize antecedents to their anger, giving them the opportunity to calm down before it’s ‘too late’. Here are some great ways you can start with teaching your kids how to practice mindfulness.
Teach calming tools. In my post about tips for helping your angry child calm down, I made an infographic for ways kids can calm down anywhere. That graphic has been pinned over 200K times! By teaching kids to take deep breaths, put their hands in their pockets, or ask for a hug, you are giving them skills that they can use in the classroom, or even in the workplace in the future. Print a copy of these tools here, and keep them with you for reference.
Use a calm down corner. Having a space where your angry kid can go to calm down will be crucial in gently handling anger before it gets out of control. Start to notice antecedents to anger, or what happens before. Does your child furrow their brow? Do they stomp their foot? Recognizing these signs can help you identify when an outburst is going to occur, before it is out of control. It is important to remember when using a calm down area that it should never be meant as a punishment, rather that your child feels this is a technique meant to help them.
Watch your language. When working with kids emotions, particularly anger, try to use positive language rather than negative. For example, “I see that you are feeling upset right now, how can I help?” vs. “You always get so mad.” Try to remember to be constructive and never put your child down, despite how frustrating it can be to deal with an angry kid often. Try these phrases:
- Let’s take a deep breath together.
- How can I help?
- That made you really mad, let’s go take a break in the calm down area.
Additionally, avoid using the phrase “calm down” as a command to your angry kid. Telling them to calm down doesn’t actually give them any ideas of what they can do with their emotion, rather it can exacerbate the frustration. Read more about why saying “calm down” doesn’t work here.
If your child has a temperament that predisposes them to feeling anger and big emotions easily, there are ways that you can gently handy your angry kid that will teach them tools to help themselves in the future. Let them know they are safe with you and that you will help them, leading with connection and love.
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