Many adults have a hard time dealing with anger, so you can imagine that many children are in the same boat.  Managing anger in an appropriate and healthy  manner is a learned skill, so here are some tips to help you teach your child how to effectively deal with their anger:

  1. Be a Good Role Model. Kids model behavior, so one of the most effective tools you can use to teach your child is to manage your own anger in an appropriate and healthy manner.
  2. Remain Calm. If your child is in the middle of a tantrum, it is important to remain calm and to resist engaging with your child until he/she has calmed down.  If you can effectively help your child get calm, then do so.  Otherwise, wait until the storm has passed.  This will help you to remain calm, as well as help your child learn that problem solving only happens when everyone is calm and in control.
  3. Help Your Child Express His/Her Feelings. Often, children get angry because they cannot express themselves effectively.  Expanding your child’s feelings vocabulary can really help.  Tip: It’s best to expand the vocabulary when your child isn’t angry.  Practice using the new feeling words when your child is displaying anger, or when he/she witnesses somebody else in anger.  Ask them what they think that person might be feeling.
  4. Develop Anger Management Strategies Together. All children (and adults) should learn the golden rule to help calm the anger response:  deep breathing and counting to 10.  Above and beyond that, it is helpful if the two of you come up with other strategies together.
  5. Give Praise. If your child shows improvement in dealing with their anger, give lots of praise.  This will help them continue to develop the healthy behavior, rather than the unhealthy behavior.  When they don’t do as well as you would hope, resist admonishing them, making them feel shameful.  Remember how easy it is for anger to get the better of anyone, and that it takes practice and repetition.  Once the situation has de-escalated, talk with your child about how things could have gone differently.  Get your child involved in coming up with an alternative scenario of how he/she could have handled their anger better.  This gets the two of you ‘on the same side’ and helps your child take ownership over their own behavior.