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How To Help Children Cope With Anger And Angry Feelings

Help Child Deal With Anger Issues

If you have ever thought about how to help children cope with anger, then you have come to the right place. This post can be immensely helpful if you are someone who has a child with anger issues. And as a parent, helping children cope with anger and helping them manage strong emotions are two of the best things you can do for them.

Key Points

  • Anger is a reaction to emotional or physical needs not being met.
  • Children have difficulty expressing angry emotions and regulating them.
  • Adults can help children identify and express anger in healthy ways.

Anger is generally a natural response to frustrating issues or situations, yet is often expressed in ways that are scary, confusing, or even unhealthy.

helping kids with anger issues.
How to help children cope with anger and helping kids to be calm

Many people consider anger a “bad” emotion and view its expression as destructive. As a result, experiencing anger can be difficult for both children and adults.

Indeed, anger is a feeling most people prefer not to experience. But when we understand anger, it can become a healing and empowering force.

Anger in children can be a response to a situation that’s in need of a solution. It can alert others that more love, safety, or protection is needed. Anger in a child can help them learn more about their own needs and self-care – and how to vent frustrating feelings in healthier ways. In truth, anger need not be a negative experience.

Most children require guidance, support, and instruction as they learn to identify and regulate angry emotions. It’s not always easy for little ones to understand feeling mad.

Children need to be nourished.
How to help children cope with anger issues

What we don’t want to do as adults is to stigmatize or present anger as a bad emotion to feel or express. We want to encourage children to be mindful about their frustrations – why they occur, how to express them – and ultimately learn how to problem-solve them.

Related: 13 Positive Phrases To Calm Your Child

The Anger Iceberg

It’s important to know the anger we often see in children is the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Often, there are other reasons why children feel angry. Getting to the source of the issue can help children learn the process of linking their feelings to their needs.

Using the “Anger Iceberg” can teach children to identify their irritability – and then search for the answers for why they are feeling mad. So, the next time your child is angry, help them to be curious about what is really underneath the surface.

How to help children cope with anger
How to help children cope with anger – The anger iceberg

Source: Serani

6 Tips for Adults, Caregivers and Educators

1. Teach children that anger is natural. 

Explain to little ones that anger is an emotion that arises when we feel frustrated, disappointed, or hurt. Teach them that anger is something all adults and children feel. Even babies too.

Help them understand while anger is a natural reaction, there are ways for it to be expressed in healthy and unhealthy ways.

8 Emotions and The purpose of each one.
How To Help Children Cope With Anger

2. Healthy and unhealthy expressions of anger.

The next step is to teach children that anger can be expressed in adaptive ways (mindful words and problem-solving) or maladaptive ways (yelling, getting physical, or being aggressive). 

Helping children to understand healthy expressions of anger will give them self-confidence, teach them positive social interactions, and help them self-regulate confusing emotions. Learning how to share angry feelings in healthy ways will also reduce the shame and guilt children feel from being destructive with their anger.

Encourage children to “Use your words” when anger presents. This will help little ones move from being physical like breaking toys, hitting, or other aggressive behaviors to expressing anger.

When maladaptive anger is shown, redirect your child by prompting, “Instead of throwing your toys, tell me what’s bothering you.” “Instead of hitting your brother, tell him what’s making you mad.” Make sure you praise the adaptive expressive of anger so your child can feel good about their emotional choices.

Related: Your Child Needs You to Be Responsive, Not Reactive: Here’s How

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Deborah Serani

As a young girl, Deborah Serani descended into a debilitating depression - and at age 19, became suicidal. The fallout from this major depressive episode required her to take a medical leave from college in order to recover. Crediting psychotherapy as life-saving, she directed her focus to the field of psychology. Now in practice for 30 years in New York, Dr. Serani uses her personal experiences with depression to inform her professional work as a clinician, author, and professor. Dr. Serani is a go-to expert for psychological issues, with interviews in Newsday, The Chicago Tribune, Women's Health and Fitness, The New York Times, Scientific American Mind, and affiliate radio programs at CBS and NPR, just to name a few. Dr. Serani has also worked as a technical advisor for the NBC television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.View Author posts