What Is Anger Management for Children?

Mrs. Kanika Aggarwal

CEO, Dolphin Kids, Greater Noida

Anger is a signal emotion. It usually mobilizes a response to danger, but it’s also a form of self-expression and sometimes a child’s way of declaring independence. Many things can trigger a child’s anger, and sometimes the result is aggression. In the example of Sophie and her little brother, each child went on the attack. Sophie became frightened by her reaction and feelings. As is often the case, biting, fighting, and temper tantrums were just around the corner.

Anger Management for Children: 5 Strategies

It is never too soon to teach your child how to control her anger so that it doesn’t control her. Remember, however, that it is difficult for young children to master these strategies. Your child will need your help—and a lot of practice:

  • Stop. If your child is feeling out of control, she should be separated from the person she feels like hurting. She should leave the room. As often happens with children, Sophie and Henry needed a parent to get them to stop.
  • Calm down.Teach your child to use some calming strategies when she feels the physical symptoms of anger. She can try taking deep breaths, drinking a glass of water, distracting herself with a song or a story, or playing alone.
  • Think before you act. Encourage your child to ask herself, “What do I want to happen?” Explain that vengeance and retaliation are not worth acting on. Being understood and making things right are worthwhile. Henry’s scribbling can’t be erased, but Sophie can still show her dad her work and how Henry tried to help.
  • Consider the other person’s feelings. Children can begin to show empathy as young as 3 years old, but they need your help. Try to get her to understand the other person’s point of view, just as she wants her point of view understood. Sophie wanted her birthday card to be perfect. Henry knew his efforts could never live up to hers. See if your child can figure out why the other person doesn’t understand her side. Could she find another way to get her view across more clearly? Can she try to let it go?
  • Look for possible solutions.Help your child see beyond “I hate you and you’re no good.” See if you can find a compromise that both parties can agree on. Apologizing often helps. By this stage maybe Henry could come to understand that he must let Sophie make her own card, and maybe she can help him with his.

When Anger Becomes Aggression

Of course, there will be times when anger turns into a physical melee. Use this as an opportunity to help your child master these aggressive feelings. Here’s what you can do to facilitate anger management for children:

  • Stop the action and restore safety.It’s often necessary to isolate the fighters. Reassure both sides that they’ll be safe, and that they can learn to stay in control and protect themselves.
  • Set limits. Lay down the law and let children know who’s in charge when they’re out of control: “No hitting, and if you won’t stop it, I will.” 
  • Follow through with consequences. A child must face the consequences of his actions if he is to learn to stop and think before he acts. “If you can’t be together without hurting each other, then you can’t be together. If you want another chance to play, see if you can remember this.”
  • Forgive.Children need to know that their bad behavior hasn’t turned them into bad people. Apologies and making amends help them move from the guilty feelings that come from knowing they were wrong to having hope that they can do better.

Mrs. Kanika Aggarwal

CEO, Dolphin Kids, Greater Noida