I've Had It With My Child's Anger!

What You Can Do About It

There's nothing wrong with tantrums.  It's what 2, 3, and 4 year olds do best!  And there's nothing with anger: it's a real emotion. 

But there are parents who wonder if their child's anger has gone too far:

Maybe your child:

  • flies off the handle at the littlest comment
  • gets into fights with other kids at school
  • defies your every instruction
  • has started throwing things and destroying property.

It's important to address the situation, because if your child is acting out of control, most likely s/he feels out of control as well.

Look Beyond the Anger

There may be other things contributing to your child's anger.  Picture an volcano.  Sitting there peacefully in the middle of the ocean.  All of a sudden, it erupts.  But underneath the ocean, there is a large structure full of magma, slowly building up pressure.

Here are some reasons why your child may have anger problems:

  • Maybe you have your own anger management problems!
  • Stress at home between two parents (kids pick up on these things)
  • Learning difficulties at school
  • Possible childhood bipolar disorder
  • Possible attention deficit disorder (hyperactive, intattentive, or combined)
  • Possible grief or childhood depression or anxiety

It may be helpful to speak to your pediatrician, who can then refer you to a trusted child psychologist for further assessment.

On the other hand, your child may just need to learn some coping skills for handling anger.

Use Some of These Tips

  1. Help your child learn to understand his or her full range of emotions.  Find a book in the library or order an emotions chart (check on Google or any search engine for "emotions chart".  Then, using a mirror, take turns making faces that go with different emotions, using the mirror to learn the expressions.  This emotional awareness will be helpful for both you and your child.
  2. Take a trip to the library.  I encourage you to take a special field trip with your child to the local library.  Go to the children's section and ask the children's librarian for kids' books on the topic of anger.  Just reading these books together will help both you and your child :)
  3. Spend special time with your child.  See if you can take even 5-10 minutes at the end of the day to let your child s/he is loved unconditionally.  There is security for a child in knowing that s/he is loved no matter how badly their emotions flair.
  4. Draw the angry hand.  Talk about different actions that Angry Hand does that are not appropriate.  Then draw Appropriate Hand and label each finger with positive actions that the child can do instead of acting out.
  5. Set up a reward and consequence system.  Design both positive and negative consequences for your child's inappropriate expressions of anger.  You'll have to define carefully for your child what is not acceptable: hitting, punching, throwing things, yelling.  If your child does those things, think of consequences that will ensue: losing TV time, video game time, or going to bed early.  Only make these consequences last for 24 hours.  Focus very carefully on giving verbal praise and extra TV time, extra video game time, or being able to stay up 1 hour later on the weekend as rewards for controlling anger appropriately.

I hope you enjoyed these anger management tips for children.  Let me know if you find them helpful, or whatever other tips you have used with your children!