Anger Management: Teaching Children How to Deal with Their Anger

In order to manage anger, your child must learn self-control. Teaching children how to deal with their anger is hard because you don't know when your child will get angry again. Use the time between angry outbursts to discuss and practice how to deal with anger. Practice each evening for about 2 to 3 minutes.

There are 5 important parts to teaching anger management. They are:

  1. Practice a substitute behavior. Teach your child a new behavior to use when he starts to get angry. The goal is for your child to learn to calm down before the anger gets out of control. Some ideas include counting, counting backwards, picturing a peaceful scene in his mind, or blowing pretend bubbles. Blowing pretend bubbles is a good one to start with because it is easy and encourages your child to take long, slow breaths. Start by blowing real bubbles using a bubble solution and then have him pretend he is blowing bubbles by holding his hand up to his mouth as though it were the bubble wand. Teach your child to do this as soon as he starts to feel frustrated or upset. One of the best things you can do to help your child control his anger is to teach your child ways to relax. Learning a phrase like "relax", "calm down" phrase that can be repeated under stress can be very helpful. It may help your child to deal with anger by doing things such as exercise, art, or writing.
  2. Reward. Focus on your child's positive behaviors. With your child, make a list of rewards that he can earn by practicing the behavior every day. Also reward for using the new behavior to avoid feeling frustrated or angry. Rewards are very helpful to help children learn to manage their anger.
  3. Give examples. Read or tell stores to your children about anger to help them understand and get ideas of ways to cope with their feelings. Tell your child about times when you have been angry and stressed, and what you did. Give examples of what your child could do in a similar situation.
  4. Encourage using the new behavior. When your child first starts to get upset, remind him or her to practice the new behavior. The sooner you prompt your child, the easier it will be for him to try it. If you wait until your child loses control, the exercises probably will not help. Only tell your child once.
  5. Be a positive role model. Set a good example and deal with your child in a quiet, calm manner. It is important that your child see you successfully deal with your own anger. When you need to discipline your child, use your normal method of discipline (for example, time-outs). Don't argue with your child. Everybody loses when there is an argument.

The more you work on teaching these skills, the faster your child will learn to deal with his own anger. Once a child has learned to deal with his anger, he won't need as much help with it.

Written by Edward R. Christophersen, PhD.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2008-08-11
Last reviewed: 2008-06-30
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.
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