Paul C Holinger M.D.

How to Deal wth Your Child's Anger

Managing your child's anger begins with addressing your own emotions first..

Posted September 26, 2023 | Reviewed by Hara Estroff Marano

  • How Can I Manage My Anger?
  • Find a therapist to heal from anger
  • Handle your own emotional responses first.

If your child sees you manage your anger well, they will learn how to do the same.

  • Try putting feelings—yours and your child's—into words.
  • Talk about the anger—and the hurt and wounds that led to the anger.

zilvergolf/Adobe Stock

Anger is one of the nine basic affects. It is an SOS signal: ”Please help. I am in trouble!” It may also be the signal that is toughest on parents and most often misunderstood. It’s so hard not to take it personally; an angry child can be hard to console.

What Triggers Anger?

Babies usually express distress because of hunger, fatigue, pain, and, sometimes, illness. Older infants may feel distress for an ever-expanding number of reasons—frustrations or boredom , for example.

As the infant gets older and more verbal, the triggers of distress are likely to become more complex and psychological (associated with a feeling of disappointment, shame , humiliation , fear , loneliness , a sense of abandonment, and tension).

At any age, anger can arise if any signal becomes too intense or shifts into distress that is excessive and sustained. Interruption of interest also can produce anger—when your child becomes upset when you stop what he feels is a great time.

How to Deal with Anger

Coping with your child’s anger requires you to handle your own emotional responses first.

Anger can be highly contagious. It is easy to misinterpret anger and see it as a personal attack and react defensively. However, if you control your own anger when confronted by your child’s, your child will begin to connect this process of acknowledging the anger, helping to remove the trigger and minimizing your reaction to the anger with positive change. This is how a child can begin to learn self-soothing and tension regulation.

This is not always easy to do, however. Ask yourself, how do I handle anger? What do I think and feel about it?

If you sense you are uncomfortable with or unable to control anger in yourself, try to analyze where your feelings come from and get a handle on them. Ask: How did my family deal with anger? How do I express anger in adult relationships, today? You may see that there are some interesting correlations between your personal reactions to anger and your child’s angry outbursts. This may help you gain control of your reactions and modify your response to your child’s signal for anger.

If you get into a screaming rage in traffic jams, your child will learn that this kind of expression of anger is an appropriate response to frustration. If you yell when you are tired, grumpy, hungry, or displeased, your child will think this is the way they should behave in such situations as well.

But, if you understand how these emotions work, validate your own feelings, develop a playful attitude about frustration, and are more resourceful about finding ways to cope with difficulties, then your child will learn to be more easygoing as well. Most important, you would be showing her how to problem solve and self-regulate by your calm coping with the situation. Ultimately, the baby can internalize this capacity to observe and regulate and have a sense of confidence that if things go wrong and distress or anger sets in, somehow someone, somewhere (and later themself) can figure out what the problem is and do something about it.

The next thing to do is put the feelings—yours and his—into words.

This will help you regulate your own tension and provide a good role model for your child’s developing capacity to regulate his own tensions. Talk to your child about the angry outburst. If he threw his peanut butter sandwich across the floor, ask what was distressing: Not hungry? Not feeling good? Expecting something else? Then perhaps you can more beneficially explore the behavior of throwing the sandwich.

And finally, go through a mental checklist when the signal for anger appears: Ask yourself, Is my child hungry? Tired? In need of a clean diaper? In pain or physical discomfort? If the answers to those questions are no, think about the possibility that your child is getting sick or teething. Ideally, you will learn not to take your child’s anger personally, and you will not get as angry yourself.

You may also work to reduce the intensity of your child’s anger by acknowledging the anger—don’t stifle, deny, criticize, or ridicule it. Instead focus entirely on taking care of the situation that triggered it.

For example, you’ve put your child into her high chair and given her a car to play with. She’s eating and playing with the car at the same time. When the car falls, the baby starts whimpering. You ignore it, figuring she should be concentrating on her food anyway. She continues to whimper. You nicely suggest she eats her food. Suddenly, the baby is in a rage. If you determine the importance of the car, pick it up and gently say, “Okay, here’s the car”, and you say it in a tone that is not critical but soft and soothing, there’s a good chance the baby will stop crying. She has “spoken,” and she has been heard.

how to deal with anger issues in 5 year old

The final point to remember is that there are always alternatives.

If you have to interrupt your child’s expression of interest, there are many other activities or objects available that can restimulate interest. The trick is to think of them instead of simply reacting.

Sometimes, however, all the best management skills at your command won’t work.

Anger may have its own momentum. It may be the result of an accumulation of frustrations, a reaction to “the last straw.” There may be no one trigger for the distress and no simple way to offer solace to your child. Or anger may simply feed on itself. Your child may be so revved up that it becomes difficult for him to calm down.

When that happens, it may take some time to restore equilibrium. If your child is biting or throwing things, you may need to do whatever you can to cool down the situation. You can sort out what happened later. You may have to contain your child by holding him in your lap, or you may say, “I’m just going to leave you alone. Here are some of your friends” (a pet, favorite stuffed animals, lovies, and so on—items the child uses to soothe him/herself). After your child has calmed down, you can talk to him about what happened.

The best success I have had with parents and the anger of an infant/young child is a triad:

  • Is the child sick?
  • Is the child tired?
  • Is the child hungry?

Paul C Holinger M.D.

Paul C. Holinger, M.D., M.P.H. , a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, is a professor of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center and author of What Babies Say Before They Can Talk .

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Child sits with face cupped in hands, dealing with anger, irritability, and aggression.

Anger, Irritability and Aggression in Kids

  • • Help may be needed when tantrums and other disruptive behaviors continue as kids get older
  • • Tantrums (crying, kicking, pushing) are common in young children but most outgrow by kindergarten
  • • Treatment includes cognitive behavioral therapy and parent management techniques
  • • Involves Child Study Center
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder
  • Mood Disorder
  • Child Behavior Disorders

When is anger, irritability, and aggression unhealthy in a child?

What causes anger, irritability, and aggression in children, how is anger, irritability, and aggression in children diagnosed, how is anger, irritability, and aggression in children treated, what makes yale medicine's approach to anger, aggression, and irritability in children unique.

Nobody likes to feel angry, but we all experience the emotion from time to time. Given that many adults find it hard to express anger in ways that are healthy and productive, it’s unsurprising that angry feelings often bubble into outbursts for children. Most parents find themselves wondering what to do about tantrums and angry behavior, and more than a few wonder whether the way their child behaves is normal.

At the  Yale Medicine Child Study Center , we work with children and their families to develop plans for each behavioral goal. We offer a variety of evaluations and treatment plans. 

It’s not unusual for a child younger than 4 to have as many as nine tantrums per week. These can feature episodes of crying, kicking, stomping, hitting and pushing that last five to 10 minutes, says Denis Sukhodolsky, PhD , a clinical psychologist with Yale Medicine Child Study Center. Most children outgrow this behavior by kindergarten. For children whose tantrums continue as they get older and become something that is not developmentally appropriate, professional help may be in order. According to Sukhodolsky, anger issues are the most common reason children are referred for mental health treatment.

Multiple factors can contribute to a particular child’s struggles with anger, irritability, and aggression (behavior that can cause harm to oneself or another). One common trigger is frustration when a child cannot get what he or she wants or is asked to do something that he or she might not feel like doing. For children, anger issues often accompany other mental health conditions, including ADHD , autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder,  and Tourette’s syndrome.

Genetics and other biological factors are thought to play a role in anger/aggression. Environment is a contributor as well. Trauma, family dysfunction and certain parenting styles (such as harsh and inconsistent punishment) also make it more likely that a child will exhibit anger and/or aggression that interferes with his or her daily life.

Young children may be taken in for a psychological or psychiatric evaluation by their parents or be referred by a pediatrician, psychologist, teacher or school administrator. Older children with behavioral problems that bring them in contact with the law may be sent for evaluation and treatment by the courts or juvenile justice system. (Sukhodolsky notes that this is exactly what earlier treatment aims to prevent.)

When assessing the breadth and depth of a child’s anger or aggression, a provider will look at the behaviors in the context of the child’s life. This includes obtaining input from parents and teachers, reviewing academic, medical, and behavioral records, and conducting one-on-one interviews with the child and parent. “We look at the full spectrum of mental health disorders and how they are affecting a child’s life,” Sukhodolsky says.

Sukhodolsky adds that research-based measurement tools, such as answers parents and child give to specific questions, are used to determine whether a child meets diagnostic criteria for a behavioral disorder. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), which is considered the “bible” of diagnoses, potential diagnoses for a child with anger, irritability and aggression include:

  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) , a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior and/or spitefulness that lasts six months or more
  • Conduct disorder (CD) , a persistent pattern of behavior that violates the rights of others, such as bullying and stealing, and/or age appropriate norms, such as truancy from school or running away from home
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) , characterized by frequent angry outbursts and irritable or depressed mood most of the time

Sometimes clinicians may use terms that are not part of the DSM but have been used in research, education or advocacy. For example, “severe mood dysregulation” is a term that refers to a combination of irritable mood and angry outbursts/aggressive behavior in children with mood disorders and ADHD. In the area of Tourette’s syndrome, the term “rage attacks” has been used to describe the anger outbursts that are often out of proportion to provocation and out of character to the child’s personality.

Behavioral intervention is the first line of treatment for childhood anger and aggression. Though there are quite a few therapies that can be helpful, the Child Study Center emphasizes two primary approaches that focus on changing the interpersonal dynamics that lead to and result from angry outbursts. These are complementary therapies that address a child’s behavior problems from different directions.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a three-pronged approach that helps a child acquire new and more effective strategies for regulating angry emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
  • Emotion regulation, which allows the child to learn to identify anger triggers and preventive strategies.
  • Learning alternate ways to express and address frustration will help the child and parent weigh the potential consequences of each choice and minimize conflict.
  • Developing new communication strategies, via with role-play for practice, helps to prevent and resolve anger-provoking situations.

Even though CBT is conducted with the child, parents actively participate in treatment and support child’s progress towards learning anger management skills.

  • Parent management techniques (PMT) helps parents limit outbursts by teaching alternative ways to handle misbehavior. The focus is on using positive reinforcement for what a child does right, rather than punishment for transgressions. PMT emphasizes positive interaction in families as rewards. “We help families enjoy spending time together. It becomes a child’s biggest motivation for reducing angry outbursts,” Sukhodolsky says.

Some children also take medication to help manage other mental health conditions (such as ADHD, anxiety , or depression). But cognitive behavioral therapy and parent management techniques (which have a 65 percent success rate in reducing the frequency and intensity of outbursts) are the primary treatments.

Other approaches may be tried if a child doesn’t respond, Sukhodolsky says, adding that some children need more intensive outpatient services or even inpatient treatment. “A life of emotional intensity doesn’t feel good so our focus and treatment goal is to help the child feel better and not suffer,” he says.

Anger and aggression are complex problems. A key benefit of seeking treatment from us is being able to access the resources of Yale University and Yale New Haven Hospital. “Oftentimes, one approach doesn’t work in isolation,” Sukhodolsky says, adding that Yale provides access to a wide range of mental health services for children with complicated mental health conditions and behavioral problems.

Also notable is the Child Study Center’s commitment to treating children within the context of the family, with great sensitivity to culture and to each family’s values and lifestyle. For example, Sukhodolsky says, showing respect for grandparents may be culturally important to a particular family. “Some kids need a bit of extra training in how to be respectful,” he says, “so we develop a plan for each and every behavioral goal.” Parents also learn to be respectful of things that matter to the child, and siblings are sometimes included in the treatment.

Whether the goal is accomplishing chores or getting to school on time, the approach is the same. “We develop a realistic plan that takes about three months or so of weekly effective therapy to change behavior and that includes behaviors of the child and the parents and often the behavior of the siblings,” Sukhodolsky says.

Yale is widely known as a preeminent research institution exploring, creating and shaping new treatments for children with mental health challenges. Doctors at Yale are focused on understanding the efficacy of treatments with the goal of predicting who is most likely to respond to which approach. “A lot of what we do here at the Child Study Center is randomized control trials to understand which forms of psychotherapy are effective,” Sukhodolsky says.

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How to Treat Anger Issues in Kids

Anger can indicate an underlying concern

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s entirely normal for kids to throw tantrums, especially before age 6. However, frequent tantrums, which last more than 10 minutes or involve violence, can signify anger issues in kids. Anger can be linked to many experiences and conditions, from trauma to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) . Certain types of psychotherapy for kids along with parent management techniques for adults can help the entire family develop more effective coping methods. 

Continue reading to learn more about anger management in kids, its causes, and other conditions that can contribute to anger issues. 

Sven Jacobsen / Getty Images

Causes of Anger Issues in Kids

If your child’s anger is affecting your home life as a family, their ability to make friends, or how they function in school, it may be cause for concern. The following are common disorders associated with anger issues in children:

  • Oppositional defiant disorder : Children with this disorder have an angry/irritable mood and may intentionally irritate or annoy others, refuse to follow the rules laid out by parents or schoolteachers, and blame others for their trouble. 
  • Conduct disorder : Kids with conduct disorder may threaten or hurt people, animals, and personal property. They also may run away or break the rules, including the law. 
  • Intermittent explosive disorder : Two or more behavioral outbursts per week for three months or longer may be a sign of intermittent explosive disorder in children.
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) : DMDD is characterized by recurrent temper outbursts and a constant irritable and angry mood.

Anger issues in children can have many different root causes. Usually, frustration and distress are at the core of anger issues in kids. That distress can be caused by medical or mental health issues, including:

  • Trauma or neglect
  • Family dysfunction
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Learning disorders

Symptoms of Anger Issues in Kids

While tantrums are a normal part of development in children, extreme tantrums may be a sign of an underlying mental health issue. Most kids grow out of tantrums between the ages of 4 and 6. If your child continues to have tantrums after that, it can be a sign of anger issues.

In children younger than 6, prolonged tantrums lasting longer than 10 minutes can be a sign of anger issues. Children who routinely hurt themselves or others or destroy property should have a professional mental health evaluation.

If you suspect your child has anger issues, you should contact their pediatrician. If you have a school-age child, you should also talk to their teachers or school counselor. A pediatrician can all refer your child for a psychological evaluation. This might sound scary, but it will help you understand what’s going on with your child and get them the help they need. 

A trained child psychiatrist or child psychologist will examine your child. They’ll interact with your child directly and gather information from other parents, counselors, teachers, and law enforcement. 

The psychological evaluation could reveal other diagnoses, like ADHD or autism spectrum disorder, that explain your child’s outbursts. The more information you have, the better equipped you are to help your child. 

Managing Anger Issues in Kids

Once you find out what’s causing your child’s anger issues, you can manage them. This involves treating the underlying issues. This might include medication in some cases, such as for kids with OCD or ADHD. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often helpful for kids with anger issues, no matter what other diagnosis they have. CBT helps them understand their patterns and regulate their emotions—all in a very child-friendly manner.

Regardless of the root cause, behavioral changes for both the child and parents can help. Parent management techniques (PMT) teach parents how to handle their child’s behavior more productively. It’s focused on positive reinforcement rather than punishment. In addition to PMT, working with a family therapist to develop new communication and conflict resolution techniques can benefit the whole family. 

Addressing anger issues in kids often isn’t a quick fix. However, there are some simple steps you can keep in mind that might help minimize outbursts:

  • Be consistent : This includes consistency with your expectations and routines. 
  • Don’t give in : Keep consistent with consequences so that a child learns that an outburst will not result in the child getting their own way. 
  • Avoid triggers : If you know that getting ready for bed or turning off the television triggers your child, prepare with ample warnings and a consistent routine. 
  • Stay calm : No matter how angry your child is, provide a calming presence. Don’t try to interact with them while they’re having a tantrum. Instead, wait until things have calmed down to talk. 
  • Praise good behaviors : Make a big deal out of good behaviors, like going to bed without an outburst. On the other hand, ignore undesirable behaviors. 

When a child’s outbursts interrupt your family's daily life, it can be a sign of an anger issue. Often, frustration and distress are the cause of anger issues. These can be caused by trauma, family dysfunction, or conditions like ADHD or OCD.

If you believe your child has anger issues, talk to your school counselor or pediatrician. Request a psychological evaluation, which can help diagnose the underlying cause of your child’s anger. Then, create a treatment plan with your child’s pediatrician, behavioral specialists, and therapists. This may include therapy for both the child and the parents. 

A Word From Verywell

Dealing with anger issues in kids can be frightening. You may be concerned about your child getting into trouble with the law, hurting themselves, or hurting someone else. Getting treatment early on can help you and your child better control their behaviors and minimize the risk of serious consequences in the future.

The first step is to take your child for a psychological or psychiatric evaluation. This can help tease out any underlying issues like ADHD or trauma. After that, connect with a child and family therapist who has experience with anger issues in kids.

Anger and aggression in children are often caused by unaddressed frustration or distress. Trauma, learning disabilities, or sensory processing issues can all make children act out in anger or aggression. Working with a child psychologist or psychiatrist can identify what’s causing your child’s anger issues and how to address them.

Low frustration tolerance and irritability are some of the signs and symptoms of ADHD . If your child is aggressive or you believe they may have ADHD, talk with a mental health professional. Getting a diagnosis can help your child access the treatment they need, including medication if you and the doctor decide that’s right for them.

Yale Medicine. Anger, irritability, and agitation in kids . 

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Disruptive disorders in children .

Child Mind Institute. Is my child’s anger normal?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Symptoms and diagnosis of ADHD .

By Kelly Burch Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.

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Behaviour Problems in 5 Year Olds – Causes and Discipline Strategies

Behaviour Problems in 5 Year Olds – Causes and Discipline Strategies

What Is a Behavioural Problem?

What behaviour is expected from a 5-year-old child, what behaviour issues are commonly seen in 5-year-olds, what are the common causes of behavioural problems in 5-year-old children, how to discipline a 5-year-old with behavior problems.

We all love kids, but as they grow, it becomes difficult to comprehend their behaviour and know how to react. As children shift from toddlerhood to kindergarten years, around the age of 5 years, their maturity and level of understanding also change. Plus, with continuous exposure to gadgets and demands fulfilled, parents are seeing an exponential increase in 5-year-old behaviour issues and the age around that. Combating behaviour problems and tantrums in 5-year-olds can be confusing and distressing for parents, but it is not at all impossible. To know how to deal with 5-year-old behaviour issues and how to discipline them without going to extreme measures, read on.

A behavioural problem is an issue generated out of any behaviour of a child that society does not approve of. This problem may arise from any kind of stress or lack of care for a child. Children in their formative years are still understanding themselves and the outside world’s expectations, and they may not have a fine understanding of expressing their emotions well, which may lead them to anger, frustration, and tantrums. While sometimes their tantrums or behaviour may come out as naughty, it is not considered normal if the child continues to behave like that or if it is disruptive, harmful to them or others, or disturbs their social presence or academia. Therefore, it is important to understand the situation from their level of understanding and teach them about right and wrong things and their respective consequences.

By the age of 5, many children understand that there are certain things that they need to do by themselves. When a child turns 5, he might do a few things on his own, like brushing his teeth, taking a bath, or getting ready for school. Some guidance and instructions might be required so that they do all these activities properly and don’t forget as well.

Many children also begin to interact with other kids by this age. Your child might already have a best friend or might be hanging around with a different group of friends, trying to find one. As outgoing as your child might be, he could also get possessive at times and resort to keeping his toys to himself. This behaviour is normal and can be handled by engaging him in games that can be enjoyed alone.

The curiosity of kids is at peak at this age. Your 5-year-old kid might ask you a number of questions all the time, even at the wrong time. This might lead to embarrassing situations in public settings. Do not discourage your child from asking questions, but also encourage him to start thinking and trying to reason things.

Your child may have been a cry-baby as an infant, but now he might be substantially in control of his emotions. He may fall while playing, cry a bit, and start playing again. He may even get angry and seem out of control at times, too. Based on his behaviour, you may need to guide him in channelling his emotions the right way.

Most of the 5-year-old behaviour problems at school are a good marker for understanding any issues that your child might be facing.

He might be getting involved in fights and arguments with kids on a regular basis over petty things. This can be further seen if he usually stays alone and his friends are actively trying to keep away from him all the time. He might fail to note down what he has studied in class just because he doesn’t feel like it, or he may end up not completing his homework. He may even be stubborn at times and throw tantrums. Your friends and family may call him a nuisance who seems only to cause problems and nothing else. And this would only aggravate this kind of behaviour.

Girl crying

Children at this age try to understand the things around them. This is the age when their character develops, but certain things may lead to behavioural problems in them. Know what results in a behavioural problem in children:

  •  Children at this age struggle to transition effectively from preschool to life at kindergarten. This is the first time they might experience the feeling of being separated from their friends in preschool. If a child hasn’t been to preschool, then interacting with a completely different group of people can be quite taxing for him. This is combined with a new lifestyle of sitting quietly in a place and paying attention to what is being taught without the freedom available at home.
  • An excessive curiosity of sorts could also manifest into frustration-filled behaviour. This is when the kids do not realize their capabilities of doing activities and get frustrated with repeated failures.
  • A 5-year-old’s behavioural problems at home could also be a result of wanting to be perfect in everything he does and failing to do so. This unhappiness can further result in tantrums. On the other hand, some kids may want to be as independent as they can and may respond rudely to you if you ask them to do something.

Disciplining 5-year-olds is a challenging task on its own, but not impossible. Here are a few ways to effectively deal with your child’s behaviour problem at this age.

1. Keep it Simple

A kid at this age is unprepared to understand the rationale behind his behaviour. Trying to explain it to him could confuse him even more. Your child will continue to show tantrums over time if things don’t go his way. So, you should explain to him about his behaviour in a gentle tone and in the simplest way possible. Tell him his mistake and ask him politely not to repeat it.

2. Be Patient

Your kid will not turn into an ideal child overnight. The behavioural problems will keep surfacing intermittently, as he, too, will be struggling with emotion and reason. Continue telling your child it is wrong, and over time, he will understand.

3. Be Strict

Certain actions, such as throwing things or breaking things, should be strictly established as intolerable. Any display of aggression and violence should be nipped in the bud at this age.

4. Understand the Reason

Try asking your child why he is behaving the way he is. If he doesn’t talk, try to figure out what has recently changed that might have caused this behaviour to occur.

5. Communication Is the Key

Being able to speak freely is essential in this regard. You can choose a place in his room where you can sit silently and let him tell you whatever he wants to, without judgement.

6. A Good Routine Is Necessary

Not having enough sleep or rest or cramming too many activities together could cause your child to break down. Ensure he gets proper sleep and follows a routine so that his behaviour is not impacted. You should also let him make his own choices.

7. One Way Doesn’t Work for All

You may need to adopt different strategies to discipline your child. Issuing timeouts or setting restrictions may work for some but not for others. So, you need to pick the best way to discipline your little child.

8. Hold On to Your Temper and Broaden Their View of the World and Things

Physical punishment like smacking will only anger young children, including a 5-year-old child. Instead of teaching them about the consequences of their behaviour through pain, broaden their perspective of things. Allow them to think. If they cuss, drop anything in anger, or behave in an unacceptable way, ask them to think about this ‘Would you like to if someone throws your thing/say bad words to you/hurt you/do that to you?’ Allow them to think of the consequences of their bad behaviour if it comes back to them.

9. Use ‘Time Out’

Use the time-out method to discipline your child and allow them to understand the consequences of their actions. Decide certain places in the house for a time-out zone without any distraction or fidgeting if they share an unacceptable behaviour. Similar goes for when you are travelling and then you can use a car for that time.

1. When should I worry about my 5-year-old behaviour?

Behavioural issues in 5-year-olds should not be ignored lightly or slid aside in the form of any joke as this would impact their behaviour in future as well. Some concerning signs of your child’s behaviour problems at home or at school would be:

  • not listening to your instructions.
  • throwing tantrums wherever they go.
  • showing no interest in interacting with other children or family or participating in social activities.
  • looking withdrawn, sad, uninterested, aggressive, etc.

2. What are some red flags/dangers in 5-year-old behaviour?

continuous objectable behaviour at school or home, unusual fears, frequent temper tantrums, difficulty in taking part in activities, social interaction, and concentration in studies, sudden outbursts, sad or negative attitude, or lack of attention are some red flags of your child’s behaviour problems at school or home, which need immediate attention and care.

For most parents, behavioural problems in their 5-year-old child can easily get on their nerves. Being angry and hitting your child is never the right way to discipline him. No child acts out of malice. Try and figure out the reason for his behaviour, and you will have solved half the problem then and there.


1. Possible Red Flags; ACMH;

2. Behavioural disorders in children; BetterHealth Channel;

3. Dealing with child behaviour problems; NHS;

4. Common Causes of Behavior Problems in Kids; Child Mind Institute;

5. What You Can Do to Change Your Child’s Behavior;;

Also Read:  Child Psychology and Tips to Understand Their Behaviour

how to deal with anger issues in 5 year old


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Anger Management for Kids: 14 Best Activities & Worksheets

Anger management kids

Even after the problem has gone away or an apology has been received, we may still have those same feelings (Peters, 2018a).

Learning to handle feelings, especially powerful ones such as anger, can be difficult, especially for young children. Learning to understand how they feel and improving emotional regulation techniques can help children respond to the emotions and environment around them with more control and skill (Snowden, 2018).

This article explores and shares tools, activities, and games to help children make sense of and manage their internal states and emotions.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive CBT Exercises for free . These science-based exercises will provide you with a detailed insight into positive Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and give you the tools to apply it in your therapy or coaching.

This Article Contains:

Anger management therapy for kids 101, 3 strategies to teach children, top 3 activities and games for kids, best worksheets and resources for children, a look at anger management toys, 3 helpful videos for your students, positive psychology resources for kids, a take-home message.

Anger is a difficult feeling for children. It can make them want to destroy things or hurl comments that hurt others. With the right tools and techniques, even young children can be taught to see anger differently and maintain or regain control over how they feel (Snowden, 2018).

Many of the most helpful techniques in anger management therapy are ones that children can take to adulthood. The approaches that follow encourage healthy habits for life, where the child chooses what works best for them (Peters, 2018b).

Mastery of such techniques is important in childhood and crucial as children reach adolescence, where unchecked anger can have a “variety of maladaptive adolescent outcomes” (Ho, Carter, & Stephenson, 2010, p. 246).

Early anger management therapy relied on applied behavioral interventions, such as manipulating environmental stimuli, punishment, and reinforcement, and typically required individuals with challenging behavior to receive ongoing support (Ho et al., 2010).

Cognitive-Behavioral approaches to anger management, on the other hand, empower the child. They involve the client and therapist working together to think through and practice new behavioral solutions, including (Ho et al., 2010):

  • Problem solving
  • Self-control and coping strategies
  • Cognitive restructuring (teaching alternate ways of thinking)
  • Stress inoculation (gradually increasing exposure to triggers)

When compared with the traditional behavioral approach, developing self-control and coping skills leads to better maintenance and generalization (Ho et al., 2010).

Despite the early onset of aggression in children, it needn’t develop into unstable personality traits in adulthood. Through effective interventions, at-risk children and adolescents can learn to deal with situations in nonaggressive ways and lead productive lives in adulthood (Nelson, Finch, & Ghee, 2012).

In anger management, kids are taught to recognize when anger is likely to show up, how it makes them feel, see behavioral patterns, and find healthy ways to remain or return to calm (Snowden, 2018).

Anger management strategies

Together they form valuable strategies to manage anger and better understand emotions and feelings (Snowden, 2018).

Each question can be explored and answered (in groups or one-to-one) to encourage children to understand their anger. The more open the adult is about their experiences, the more likely the child will feel safe and comfortable being vulnerable . They will recognize anger as an emotion common to everyone.

The three questions are (modified from Snowden, 2018):

Why do I feel angry?

What happens when i feel angry, what should i do with my anger.

Sometimes it is difficult to recognize why we are angry. It can appear out of the blue and unexpectedly. When we know what triggers our anger (e.g., people, places, situations), we can anticipate it and react quickly to stop it from getting out of control (Snowden, 2018).

“ Thinking about your anger will help you see patterns more clearly and find healthy ways to feel calm again” (Snowden, 2018, p. 1). Knowing why you feel angry and how you are impacting those around you will promote better choices when you are angry.

Exploring why a child feels anger – the triggers and situations – can provide early warning to help them remove themselves from the situation, stop their anger from escalating, and feel in control.

When anger appears, it can be fast, seemingly unavoidable, and yet unsurprising. Each of us is attempting to fulfill our own needs and live according to our goals. Inevitably, what we want or do may not always match the expectations or demands of those around us (Snowden, 2018).

When this happens, we can feel angry and upset.

Children must understand the causes of their anger, such as tiredness, anger, people breaking their ideas regarding fairness, or having to stop doing something they enjoy. It is also essential that children learn how anger is stopping them from getting what they need and want (Snowden, 2018).

Learning how to spot these triggers means we can avoid them and redirect our energies and attention elsewhere. It is an essential and logical step that forms part of a bigger strategy to regain control over anger.

We all get angry at times. Recognizing the emotion and learning to greet it with kindness can help you “host your difficult feelings, like you would welcome a visitor at home” (Snowden, 2018, p. 89).

Refocusing our attention on what is good in our lives is a powerful technique to create balance and gain control over our feelings. Being kind and patient with ourselves can create more healthy ways of being open with others about how we feel and what we need while remaining aware of others’ feelings.

Asserting control and knowing what to do when anger visits next time can restore the child’s self-belief and regain their trust in their own abilities to manage situations.

Tools and techniques to teach kids anger management strategies

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Children often learn best when they are playing. Games and activities promote self-learning and, when focused on emotions, help children identify their anger and associated triggers and behavior (Peters, 2018b).

The following activities and games offer a fun and insightful way for children and their parents or teachers to understand the situations that lead to anger and how they can react differently (modified from Peters, 2018b; Snowden, 2018).

Children sometimes have to do things they do not enjoy: completing homework, turning off the TV, or going to bed at night. The gap between what they want to do and what they must do can be a source of anger (Peters, 2018b).

Self-discipline is an essential skill for children to learn and helps them manage their more reactive and emotional side.

Role-play can be a valuable way for children and adults to explore particular anger triggers such as being told to stop doing something or perform an activity that does not factor in their plan despite being good for them.

For example, you could role-play that the child is asked to clean their room, but their emotional side takes over and starts acting up.

Peters (2018b) refers to our reactive, emotional side as our “chimp.” Encourage the child to practice saying ‘stop’ to their emotional chimp and talk through how they will get things done. It can help to have them speak out loud to their chimp, telling it not to argue, stop misbehaving, and be sensible so that everyone can be happy (Peters, 2018b).

Such self-discipline can be a valuable approach to preventing the onset of angry behavior.

Scenarios and their outcomes

Understanding the different options available to them can help children choose thinking and behavior more appropriate to their own and others’ needs.

Work through several scenarios that typically lead to anger, and discuss three possible responses for each one (Peters, 2018b).

  • I have been blamed for something I didn’t do. a) I am going to get angry and behave badly. b) I am never going to do anything again.

Or, more helpfully, c) I am going to explain that I am upset because I didn’t do it.

  • I can’t do something new. a) I am going to cry and get angry. b) I am going to sulk and give up.

Or, more helpfully, c) I am going to talk to someone and learn how to do it.

  • My friend has borrowed something and hasn’t given it back. a) I am going to get angry with them and demand they give it back. b) I will never talk to my friend again.

Or, more helpfully, c) I am going to explain that I am upset and would like to have it back. If that doesn’t work, then I will talk it through with an adult.

Encourage the child to explain why the two extremes (a and b) are not helpful or the best outcome for everyone involved. Then discuss why option c leads to a better result and less upset.

Who’s in the driver’s seat?

“Anger can change the way we see people and situations.”

Snowden, 2018, p. 80

Work with the child to help them understand and recognize the clues that indicate an angry or a calm mind.

A calm mind can enable us to:

  • Consider the consequences of our actions How would the other person feel if I took away their toy?
  • See different sides Perhaps it was an accident rather than something they did on purpose.
  • Be understanding Perhaps they are just having a bad day.
  • Hold back or walk away I need to calm myself before saying or doing something I will regret.
  • See feelings more clearly I am sad, frustrated, or angry.

An angry mind is like this:

  • Reactive I’ll do what I want.
  • Does what it wants, when it wants I was hurt, so I should hurt them back.

Recognizing each of the above signs can help prevent angry outbursts and improve the child’s self-awareness and empathy.

Resources for children

We list several helpful worksheets below that can build healthy habits into children’s lives (modified from Peters, 2018b; Snowden, 2018):

Recognizing When We Have Been Angry

Children and adults sometimes do things they wish they hadn’t done. When they become grumpy or angry, they can say things they don’t mean or behave in destructive ways.

Try out the Recognizing When We Have Been Angry worksheet to capture when the child got angry and how they could have handled it differently.

Answering how the child could react differently can start the process of building better habits around positive emotions .

What I Want to Be

Before learning new coping skills and ways to behave, it can be helpful for children to describe the type of person they want to be (such as well behaved, happy, and without worries) versus who they don’t want to be (such as angry, worried, and naughty).

Ask the child to complete the What I Want to Be worksheet with behaviors and emotions they would like to avoid and ones they want to display.

Such exercises promote reflection and, therefore, metacognitive processing, which encourage greater self-awareness of emotions (Fleming, 2021).

Promoting Positive Behavior

Anger is mostly negative and unhelpful for children. But rather than focusing solely on what emotions and behavior to avoid, it can be valuable to consider a wish list of emotions and behaviors that are helpful (Peters, 2018b).

Use the Promoting Positive Behavior worksheet to create a list of positive behaviors with the child and how to enact them in their lives.

When positive behavior is promoted, it can become habitual and create a happier and more constructive atmosphere (Peters, 2018b).

Building Our Feelings Vocabulary

It can be hard for children to know and use the right words to describe their feelings to others. Building their feelings vocabulary can help them share what they are experiencing and seek the help they need (Snowden, 2018).

The Building Our Feelings Vocabulary worksheet provides a list of helpful feeling words and example situations.

With practice and a little help, children can become very good at sharing their emotions.

Requests Versus Demands

It can take time to learn that how we phrase something can change how a person experiences what we have to say. When children have big feelings about something they really want, they can become demanding (Snowden, 2018).

The Requests Versus Demands worksheet helps children understand how to turn demands into requests.

Conflict at School

School is a significant part of children’s lives. Fellow students are all different, with their own likes and dislikes. As a result, it can be challenging to get along with each person, even when we like them (Snowden, 2018).

The Conflict at School worksheet helps children reflect on the different relationships they have at school, what is difficult, and what they need from each one.

Fun activities can be ideal for exploring the triggers, emotions, and behaviors associated with anger.

The following is a small sample of some games to help.

Mad Dragon: An Anger Control Card Game

Mad Dragon

This fun emotionally-focused therapy game teaches its players about anger control.

The card game is aimed at children between 6 and 12 years old and helps them identify and avoid anger-provoking situations, and express and understand how they feel.

Available from Amazon .

Don’t Go Bananas – A CBT Game for Kids to Work on Controlling Strong Emotions

Don't Go Bananas

Based on CBT principles, this game teaches children how to identify emotional triggers, understand the beliefs underpinning them, their consequences, and how to change negative thought patterns .

The game is played by groups of two to four children and can include adults.

Mad Smartz: An Interpersonal Skills Card Game


This CBT-based card game helps children learn about empathy, social skills, anger management, confidence, and cooperation.

It is designed to support parents and therapists working through emotional issues with children and can be played in groups of two or more.

There are plenty of videos online to explain emotions, including anger, to young children in a friendly way.

Here are three of our favorites:

Anger Management for Kids

This short video explains how to manage anger in five easy steps.

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns It’s OK to Back Away

Follow Howard in this engaging animation to see how he learns to back away from anger.

Anger Management for Kids!

This learning video teaches children about anger, what it does to them, and effective ways to manage their feelings.

There are plenty of resources, tools, and worksheets based on positive psychology designed to explore emotions and cope with anger.

The following are all appropriate to children; though, depending on their age, they may benefit from a degree of support:

  • Decorating Cookies Sometimes it is important to step away from a situation and have some downtime. Drawing and art can be excellent ways to take a breath when tempers flare.
  • Inside and Outside Worksheet This exercise helps children compare how they think, feel, and behave when struggling with an emotion.
  • Self-Control Spotting Recognizing self-control versus lack of control in behavior can be the first step to acting more appropriately.
  • Red Light: Anger! This drawing exercise is ideal for young children. They learn to picture anger when it’s small or growing too big.
  • Meditation Grounding Scripts for Children Meditation can be helpful at any age. This script for children is ideal for grounding and introducing calm.
  • Anger Management for Teens: Helpful Worksheets & Resources This article about anger management for teens is a must read for all parents and caregivers, helping them be prepared and knowing how to handle challenging teenager situations.
  • Anger Management Books If your preference is to read up on a topic, then this selection of anger management books was complied specificially for therapists and for helping kids.
  • 17 Positive Communication Exercises If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others communicate better, this collection contains 17 validated positive communication tools for practitioners . Use them to help others improve their communication skills and form deeper and more positive relationships.

Anger is typically upsetting for everyone involved and can change how children see people and experience situations.

Whether we say hurtful things or act in inappropriate ways, we usually look back and wish we had done things differently (Snowden, 2018).

If given a safe place to learn and explore their emotions, children can find new habits to make them happier and calmer, allowing them to maintain or regain control and avoid angry outbursts (Snowden, 2018).

Working through games, tasks, and worksheets, especially in groups or with an adult, can help children explore ways to calm an angry mind or avoid the situation altogether.

Acting out real-life situations can allow children to experiment with what works and what doesn’t, then use the right skills when the problem next arises (Snowden, 2018).

Try some of the worksheets and activities with children. The learnings are not solely in the task itself but in discussing the thinking (metacognition) behind it and its application in the real world. The benefits will last a lifetime.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. For more information, don’t forget to download our three Positive CBT Exercises for free .

  • Fleming, S. M. (2021). Know thyself: The science of self-awareness . Basic Books.
  • Ho, B. P., Carter, M., & Stephenson, J. (2010). Anger management using a cognitive-behavioural approach for children with special education needs: A literature review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education , 57 (3), 245–265.
  • Nelson, W. M., III, Finch, A. J., Jr., & Ghee, A. C. (2012). Anger management with children and adolescents. In P. C. Kendall (Ed.), Child and adolescent therapy: Cognitive-behavioral procedures (pp. 92–139). Guilford Press.
  • Peters, S. (2018a). The silent guides: Understanding and developing the mind throughout life . Lagom.
  • Peters, S. (2018b). My hidden chimp: Helping children to understand and manage their emotions, thinking and behaviour with ten helpful habits . Studio Press.
  • Snowden, S. (2018). Anger management workbook for kids: 50 Fun activities to help children stay calm and make better choices when they feel mad . Althea Press.

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Article feedback

What our readers think.

Shaheen Khan

Hi, I am not able to access the worksheets linked in the article. Is there a way that I can get them?

Julia Poernbacher

Hi Shaheen,

I checked the links, and they all seemed to work fine for me. Could you let me know which worksheet you are referring to? I am happy to help!

Kind regards, Julia | Community Manager


Can you please post your references for Snowden,2018 and Peter,2018b?

Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

Snowden, S. (2018). Anger management workbook for kids: 50 Fun activities to help children stay calm and make better choices when they feel mad. Althea Press.

Peters, S. (2018b). My hidden chimp: Helping children to understand and manage their emotions, thinking and behaviour with ten helpful habits. Studio Press.

P.S. If you scroll to the end of the article, you’ll find a button you can click to reveal the reference list. Hope this helps!

– Nicole | Community Manager

Marjas Booker

I liked some of the exercises, especially drawing. Anything more on blind rage for 6-10 year olds?

Glad you liked the exercises! Here are a few other free worksheets we have throughout our other posts on this topic:

– Bubbling Over – Follow the Shapes – What Makes Me Blow Up

– Hope this helps!

Richard Stubbs OAM

In this further covid lock-down, young people known to us are becoming isolationist and schooling is suffering. Outbursts becoming a norm. At Beyond Disability we have helped our “wheelie kids” – less-abled kids with laptops and broadband for over 20 years. We have just provided 25 laptops to a local primary school for disenfranchised children who cannot home school. A very timely article, well received Thank you

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5 Signs Your Child Needs Help Managing Anger

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Ellen Linder / Unsplash

Why Is My Child So Angry?

Signs that your child needs help, how to help your child.

Everyone gets angry sometimes. In fact, anger is a normal, healthy emotion when expressed appropriately. But some kids are frequently angry and struggle to enjoy life. They get into fights when they play games and argue when they're doing something fun. Their inability to cope with their emotions affects their quality of life.

If your child has difficulty expressing anger appropriately or otherwise struggles to manage this powerful emotion, they may need help from a mental health professional. Treatment will help give them the skills they need to feel better.

There are many factors that can contribute to a child feeling angry or expressing anger in challenging ways. Unresolved feelings, such as grief related to a divorce or the loss of a loved one, can be the root of the problem. A history of trauma or experiencing bullying may lead to anger, too.

Mental health issues also may be linked to angry outbursts. Children with depression, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder , or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder struggle to regulate their emotions.

There isn’t always a clear environmental or mental health issue behind a child’s angry behavior. Some kids just have a lower tolerance for frustration than others.

Some kids seem to be born with a short fuse. They may be impatient, intolerant, or aggressive when they're not happy. Dealing with unpredictable behavior can be stressful for the entire family.

While it’s age-appropriate for toddlers to throw temper tantrums for and preschoolers to lash out aggressively at times, it’s important to keep an eye out for behavior that differs from normal childhood behavior . These warning signs may indicate that you should seek professional help for your child.

Difficulty With Relationships

Hitting a sibling  or calling someone a name once in a while is normal in young children. However, when kids' angry outbursts prevent them from maintaining friendships, or interfere with developing healthy relationships with family members, it's time to address the issue.

Disruption of Family Life

You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells in your own home. If your daily activities are disrupted because of your child’s angry behaviors, it’s not healthy for anyone in the family. Skipping outings or giving into your child to avoid a meltdown are temporary solutions that will lead to long-term problems.

If you're missing out on fun activities, or your one-on-one time with another child is frequently interrupted, your child's behavior needs to be addressed.

Aggression should be a last resort. But for kids with anger problems, lashing out often becomes a first line of defense. When children struggle to solve problems , resolve conflict , or ask for help, they may be using aggression as a way to get their needs met. Sometimes, teaching new skills can help them learn that aggressive behavior isn’t necessary. 

Immature Behavior

While it’s normal for 2-year-olds to throw themselves down to the floor and kick their feet when they're mad, that’s not normal for an 8-year-old. Meltdowns should decrease in frequency and intensity as your child matures. If your child’s temper tantrums seem to be getting worse, it’s a warning sign that they're having difficulty regulating their emotions.

Frequent Frustration

As kids mature, they should develop an increased ability to tolerate frustrating activities. If a 7-year-old throws their building toys when their creations topple over, or a 9-year-old crumples up their papers every time they make a mistake on their homework, they may need help building frustration tolerance.

If you're struggling to help your child feel better, consider getting professional help. A mental health professional can assist you in teaching your child anger management strategies. They also can address any underlying issues your child may be facing.

Start by talking to your child’s pediatrician about your concerns. Your child's physician can rule out any medical issues that might contribute to the problem and then make a referral to a mental health provider.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Oppositional defiant disorder .

By Amy Morin, LCSW Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.

A Blog About Parenting: Coping Skills, Behavior Management and Special Needs

Calming Down Strategy Cards

64 Anger Management Activities for Kids: How to Help an Angry Kid

Anger management activities for kids:,  40 anger activities + 21 anger games +  2 anger worksheets + calm-down cards (free download).

Finding anger management activities for kids that work well is essential when your child (or one of your students) has anger management problems.

This post is for you if you have been asking yourself some of these questions:

  • How do I teach my child to control his anger?
  • What activities could teach him/her some coping skills for anger?
  • How do I deal with an angry student?

My 10-year-old son has special needs. He has been struggling with his feelings of frustration and anger triggered by our relocation to a new country.

We work on anger management and coping skills at home regularly. We are not new to this but are currently getting our best results.

In today´s post, I will share the anger management strategies we have practiced and some very useful tools like an anger scale for kids, specifically a 5-point scale for anger.

These strategies and tools are helping us build some anger management skills for our kids.

  • What is Anger? How do you explain to your kid what anger is and its function?
  • How angry am I? Emotion Charts / Anger Scales for Kids: A 5-Point Scale for Anger
  • What are Anger Activities for Kids
  • 30 Anger Management Activities to Practice with Your Calm Down Cards   Breathing exercises, “burning energy”, distracting from anger triggers, relaxation, and other techniques
  • 10 Fun Anger / Emotions Activities  
  • 21 ANGER GAMES (Fun Anger Activities)
  • 2 ANGER WORKSHEETS (Educational Anger Activities)
  • Calming Down Cards- Free Download 

(Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. You can also read our Disclosure & Disclaimer policy here )

What is anger? Why do we feel angry? How do I explain anger to my kids?

Before we start teaching anger management activities for kids, we need to talk to our kids about anger.

There are some anger facts that you can explain to your children:

  • Anger is an emotion . When I feel angry I may feel irritable, tense, and anxious. I may also have negative thoughts.
  • Anger is not bad .
  • Anger has a function : your body is telling you that something is bothering you.
  • We all feel angry sometimes . Mum and Dad also feel angry sometimes. At home, we all share examples of situations in which we have felt angry. And my son just loves  Everybody Feels Angry! . I think he can really relate to these kids´stories.
  • We can learn ways that help us control our anger . Sometimes we will need to solve a problem. Some other times we will not be able to fix what is bothering us, or we will not know exactly what is causing these feelings. In those cases, we can still learn ways that help us control our anger.

If you need more ideas on how to explain anger to your child, we always use these two books to work on anger management:

  • “ A Cool Kid Journal “ (Anger Management Workbook + Journal + Calm Down Cards ⇒ All in One!)

We have recently developed A Cool Kid Journal.   This anger workbook explores everything you will read about in this post:

  • Understanding my Anger
  • Coping Strategies for Anger (11 categories that break down into 70 strategies)
  • 70 Calm Down Cards (one coping card for each coping strategy suggested in the previous section)

Anger Management Activities Journal and Calm Down Cards

  • “ What to Do When Your Temper Flares. A Kids Guide to Overcoming Problems With Anger “ by Dawn Hueber.

It´s an amazing resource (Winner of 2008 Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Recipient: Self-Improvement).  

It is a book for you to read with your child. It provides examples and metaphors to help kids understand their anger and how it affects them.

⇒ More recommended reading on “Anger Management for Kids”:

  • The Explosive Child
  • I´m not Bad. I´m just Mad   DEAL ALERT! This title is currently FREE in AUDIBLE ➡️ Try Audible for free HERE
  • What to do when temper flares. A kid’s guide to overcoming problems with anger .

How angry am I? Emotion Charts / Anger Scales for Kids: a 5 Point Scale for Anger.

Your next step should be to help your child express anger and to talk about the different degrees of anger.

In order to help our children express how angry they are (or how happy!), we use an anger scale for kids.

Visual scales are used not only within the scope of special needs but also with children in general.

Visual scales or Emotion Charts provide kids with clues that help them express the intensity of an emotion, feeling, or sensation (anxiety, anger, pain …)

We use a 5 Point Scale for anger, and for each level, we discuss how we felt on that specific level (1 happy / 5 extremely angry) and how it shows.

Anger Scale for Kids: a 5 point scale for anger

I believe this step is a very important part of a successful anger management intervention.

If you want to learn how to use emotion charts effectively I recommend you read my post:  

  • “ Emotions Chart: How to Use a Feelings Thermometer Effectively “.

In that post, I give suggestions on how to use this tool and some ideas on how to approach an “action plan” with your kid (or student). You will also be able to download two feelings thermometer templates.

Other useful resources:

  • BASIC EMOTIONS: If your child or student has problems identifying anger signs: “ Basic Emotions Worksheets ” will take you through the most common anger signals using beautiful drawings.
  • ANGER TRIGGERS: Sometimes being able to identify anger triggers can help prevent the situation, or if not, it can at least help your kid look for help at the initial stages before things have turned into a full-blown drama. More on this topic? ⇒ “ Anger Triggers in Kids: Helping your Child Identify & Deal With Anger Triggers “
  • Anger Thermometers for Kids : 11 Worksheets & Activities
  • Mood Trackers for Kids (including Zones of Regulations-inspired chart)

What are Anger Management Activities for Kids? 

Anger management activities for kids are structured tasks, games, worksheets or exercises aimed to develop anger coping skills by teaching:

  • Relaxation methods
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Ways to divert attention from anger triggers or situations
  • Self-regulation
  • Emotion recognition
  • Anger management strategies adapted to specific situations
  • How to appropriately channel feelings of anger

The 64 anger activities that I will be sharing in the next sections include:

  • 30 Anger management activities and strategies for kids (all these activities are included in the printable calm-down strategy cards)
  • 10 Anger / Emotions activities
  • 21 Anger Games (Fun Anger Management)
  • 2 Educational Anger Activities for Kids: Anger Worksheets
  • Calm down strategy cards to support those activities/strategies and self-regulation (Visual Support)

30 Anger Management Activities for Kids (breathing exercises, “burning energy”, distracting from anger trigger, relaxation, and other techniques)

Before we go through our anger management activities:

TIP 1 Brainstorm and discuss all the things you can do when you are at each level of the emotions chart or scale.

For levels 1 and 2, since your kids are quite happy, they just need to keep on doing whatever is working for them.

When it comes to levels 3, 4, and 5, you need to build a menu of anger management activities that will help your kids calm down and control their emotions.

The objective is to help them build anger management skills.

TIP 2 Remember to practice the anger management activities you have chosen when your kids are calm and happy. You will not be able to teach them to “stop, think and solve” (just an example) in the middle of a tantrum.

They need to start to automate that sequence in a happy context.

The list below is our own list. You are welcome to download our “30 Anger Management Activities for Kids” booklet (it comes with visual clues/ pictograms !). You will see the link at the end of the post .

Must-Try Anger Management Activities for Kids to Practice with your Calm Down Cards

  • Ask Mommy for help

Exercises that help us relax ( breathing exercises ):

  • Breathing exercise 1: pretend you are smelling a flower /pretend you are blowing a candle
  • Lazy 8 Breathing exercise (detailed explanation of this technique in my post  Breathing techniques: Lazy 8 Breathing)
  • Deep breathing while Mum counts to 10
  • Blow Bubbles

Exercises that help us relax (relaxation):

  • Progressive muscle relaxation exercises
  • Yoga (Check out my post “ Yoga for Kids “- tips for beginners and some recommendations on great yoga books for kids / And if you want to make yoga even more fun consider trying these  fun animal yoga poses for kids )
  • Squeeze a stress ball with your hand / release it ( If you are into DYI you can learn? how to make homemade stress balls in just 3 minutes!)

Taking a break from the situation- physical space:

  • Moving to a different room from where the problem is happening
  • Step out to the garden
  • Mum/Dad take me for a walk
  • Go to a quiet place

Taking a break from the situation- move to a new fun activity:

  • Watch a favorite tv program
  • Mum tells a story / Read a Book
  • Play a game in computer/tablet
  • Play board games
  • Play with playdough
  • Sensory Bottles These  DIY Sensory Bottles  are so easy to make that even a 5-year-old could do it alone! It´s not only a great calming tool but also a fun family activity. Related: Sensory Activities for Kids
  • Make a Drawing
  • Listen to music

Physical activity to burn energy:

  • Bounce-on ball
  • Run around the couch

Other techniques:

  • Stop / Think / Do – Stop when you are very angry / Think about what alternatives you have to solve the problem / Implement the chosen one
  • Start counting (1- 10)
  • Hug tight your favorite soft toy
  • Write down your worries and tear the paper
  • Think about things that make you happy
  • Have a snack

The kids’ anger management activities that I have just mentioned, are all included in the free calm down cards set that you will be able to download at the end of this post.

Calm down cards representing anger management activities for kids

10 Anger/Emotions Activities to Help Kids Cope with Angry Feelings

Try these other activities to work on coping skills development and learning to deal with angry feelings:

1. Prepare a calming box

Calm down box with anger management activities for kids / Calming Toolbox

You can see how our box looks in the picture.

What items should you include in your calm down box?

Anything that works for your child.

In our coping skills toolbox, we keep our calm-down cards, sensory bottles, earmuffs, a worry eater, anger management worksheets (problem-solving, feelings thermometer), and many other items that work for us.

Grab any box that you have around the house, but make sure it is big enough to fit all the self-regulation items that your child may use.

Do you need some more ideas?

Check this post for ideas on how to create a calm-down box for your kids or students.

2. Keep an Anger Journal

Anger Journal for Kids

A journal helps record:

  • anger triggers
  • anger warning signs
  • behavioral responses

Reviewing their journal records can shed some light on:

  • the role that thoughts and feelings play
  • situations that may need to be avoided
  • behaviors they may need to modify
  • coping skill that may help them in the future, or
  • when they need to start practicing coping strategies

But, the Cool Kid Journal is much more than a journal. It is an insightful workbook that teaches kids all they need to know about anger. 

It is structured in three parts:

  • Understanding Anger (anger, triggers, signs and anger response)
  • Problem-solving
  • Self-instructions
  • Asking for help/sharing
  • Breathing techniques
  • Relaxation strategies
  • Dealing with our thoughts,
  • Taking breaks
  • Burning out anger
  • Sensory strategies
  • Calm Down Cards (70 cards as per the strategies explored in part 2)

The main focus is developing coping skills for anger , so part 2 is the most important part of this workbook.

CHECK OUT THE ANGER WORKBOOK (Anger Management Activities for Kids)

3. Feelings Box: Store away your angry feelings

FEELINGS Box_Anger Management Activity for Kids

A “Feelings Box” is a place to store away those feelings that may overwhelm your child.

I’ll drop a link below to a feelings box tutorial. The title reads “Worry Box,” but we also use our feelings box to deal with our angry thoughts and frustration feelings.

This excellent coping tool allows your children to:

  • Express their feelings (write them down or draw them)
  • Take control of the situation.
  • Park feelings or emotions that they may not be able to cope with at the present moment until they are ready to deal with them.

⇒ Learn how to prepare a feelings box

4. Emotions Playdough Activity

Angry Face - anger management activity with face playdough mats

Since we are brainstorming anger management activities, let’s assume you ask your kid or student to represent an angry face using playdough.

These are some suggestions for this activity:

  • Discuss facial expressions of anger / How do we know your playdough boy/girl is angry?
  • Start conversations about our angry feelings
  • Brainstorm healthy ways to express anger
  • Discuss coping strategies

These emotions playdough mats are labeled with 14 different feelings, emotions, or moods: sad, happy, tired, surprised, scared, angry, shy, bored, loved, excited, lonely, hurt, worried, proud

⇓ The following activities are not specific to anger but are interesting tools to work on emotional development .

5. Break Cards

I Need a Break Card Visual

A break card assists the child/student to self-regulate their emotions, actions, or bodies.

In our post on how to use break cards at home, school, and in special education we share helpful advice and free printable break cards .

6. Emotions Charades

This activity is a tremendous social-emotional learning resource.

It helps kids:

  • communicate emotions using their body language (players can’t talk, so they need to act out their feelings)
  • learn to identify other people’s emotions

We play this game with our Emotions Flashcards .

One player picks an emotion card from the deck.

The player represents the emotion for the other players to guess without using words. Take turns doing this.

If you don’t own feelings cards, you can write down a list of feelings, cut them into individual pieces, and put them into a jar.

7. Emotions Memory Game

You also need Emotions Flashcards for this one.

Place the cards facing down and take turns lifting any two cards. If the cards match, keep them and proceed to turn another two. If not, leave them facing down and let the next player take a turn. The player who gets more pairs at the end wins.

If you play it this way, it is just another Memory Game.

But, you can turn it into an emotional development opportunity by adding some simple questions.

For example, if your child matches a set of cards representing anger, you can prompt:

“You match the anger cards. How do you feel when you are feeling angry? How does your body tell you about it? How can you tell other people are angry?”

8. Explore Anger with a Fun Anger Thermometer

We have created 11 helpful  anger thermometer worksheets for kids that include fun anger activities to help your child explore:

  • What are those strong feelings called (label those emotions)
  • Anger signs and triggers
  • Calming strategies

⇒ If you wish to explore more anger management ideas check out my post on calming strategies for kids  (60 calming ideas!)

9. Anger Iceberg: Explore Hidden Anger-Related Feelings

The anger iceberg is a metaphor that highlights that the expressions of anger that are so easy to notice may be hiding other complex emotions.

On the tip of the anger iceberg, we represent what we can see: our anger signs

Beneath the surface, we explore underlying feelings and emotions that may be disguised as anger (frustration, shame, hurt, embarrassment, jealousy, or guilt)

Relevant related reading:  

  •   “ Anger Management for Kids: How to Calm an Angry Kid”  , a comprehensive review of tips and advice for parents to help kids deal with anger issues.

10. Mindfulness Activity: 5 4 3 2 1 Grounding Exercise .

This is one of my favorite calming activities.

Grounding techniques effectively divert our attention away from distressing emotions and thoughts. One particular method always works exceptionally well for us. It’s reached a point where my son even recommends ‘doing the 5-4-3-2-1’ whenever he feels overwhelmed.

How to practice the 5 4 3 2 1 Calming Technique

Ask your child to name the following:

  • 5 things that you can SEE in the room
  • 4 things that you can FEEL/TOUCH right now
  • 3 things that you can HEAR
  • 2 things that you can SMELL now
  • 1 thing that you can TASTE

For comprehensive insights, including practical tips and advice on utilizing this technique, along with various adaptations, and access to a downloadable poster, explore the detailed article in the following blog post:

  • 54321 Grounding Exercise for Kids (poster included)

Fun Anger Activities:21 Anger Management Games for Kids

Playing has an important role in children’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social learning.

Since kids learn better and engage more when playing, adding anger management games to our anger management activities list is a no-brainer. Around the age of 6 or 7, children incorporate games of rules into their repertoire. Those games require them to cooperate, follow rules, compete, think about the other’s point of view and anticipate other people´s actions.

A lot of those skills are put to good use when using anger games to learn anger management techniques, anger cues, anger-provoking situations, and how to express anger appropriately.

In my post about fun anger management games for kids , I take you through 21 different anger games to add to your coping skills tool kit.

Read about fun anger management:

  • Anger Games : Super Fun Ways to Learn Anger Management Skills

Anger Management Worksheets / Educational Activities

I’ve also produced two anger management worksheets for kids.

These worksheets cover two important milestones when we are learning to develop our anger management skills:

  • Being able to identify our anger signs
  • Learning about our anger triggers.

You may find these anger worksheets and instructions on how to work with them in the following posts:

  • Anger Triggers
  • Anger Signs

Anger Resources for Teens

If you are looking for resources for an older age group, the following article and product may help you:

  • Anger Toolkit for Teens
  • Anger Management Activities for Teens

Getting Help for an Angry Child

If your kids’ anger management problems are difficult to manage you need to seek professional help.

Tantrums and meltdowns may be absolutely normal.

But there are also cases in which those episodes are very intense or happen too often.

Your doctor will also assess if they are developmentally appropriate.

Some of the reason why aggressive behaviors may be present can be:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Sensory processing issues

You need professional help to assess if there is an underlying problem that requires specific interventions.

Anger Management Resources for Parents

Don’t forget to check out the Anger Management Workbook for Kids !

A Cool Kid Journal is a workbook + journal + coping cards (70!), ALL IN ONE. ( 121 fun colorful pages that include educational content, journaling pages, worksheets, and cards)

It is a digital product to help kids develop coping skills for anger .

Anger Management Workbook for Kids

Calming Down Cards- Free Download

Using visuals (calming down cards) when teaching kids to cope with big emotions (anger or anxiety) has many benefits:

  • they assist them to make their choices
  • they supplement or replace speech for those kids who can´t communicate verbally 
  • they promote self-regulation
  • they improve the chances of successfully implementing the anger management activities we have been practicing with them

Calming Cards_Anger Management Activities for Kids_Download opt

46 Anger Management Activities for Kids: How to Help an Angry Kid

5-point anger scale for kids


Tiffany montgomery.

Thank you for creating this. My daughter was just diagnosed with Autism and we are learning how to deal with her anger first… I found you on Pinterest while looking for some visual things to go with her counseling sessions. This is just what we needed!

Thanks a lot for your comments, Tiffany. Visuals are a great help, I’m sure you will find them really useful. If you have downloaded them, you will soon receive extra tips on how to work the calming cards, to make sure you get the most out of them.

These cards are great and will be a really useful resource in my practice (I’m a child/adolescent therapist). My only criticism is that the cards only depict white children and families. My entire caseload is African American, so I hesitate to use these. I recommend including more diverse drawings in the future in order to be more inclusive. Other than that, I really like this resource and the other posts on your website! Thank you

Thanks a lot for your feedback, Beatrice. And you are absolutely right, I will check into this.

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Helping your child with anger issues

Anger is a normal and useful emotion. It can tell children when things are not fair or right.

But anger can become a problem if a child's angry behaviour becomes out of control or aggressive.

Why is your child so angry?

There are lots of reasons why your child may seem more angry than other children, including:

  • seeing other family members arguing or being angry with each other
  • friendship problems
  • being bullied – Anti-Bullying Alliance has information on bullying
  • struggling with schoolwork or exams
  • feeling very stressed, anxious or fearful about something
  • coping with hormone changes during puberty

It may not be obvious to you or your child why they're feeling angry. If that's the case, it's important to help them work out what might be causing their anger.

Read talking to your child about feelings .

Tackle anger together

Team up with your child to help them deal with their anger. This way, you let your child know that the anger is the problem, not them.

With younger children, this can be fun and creative. Give anger a name and try drawing it – for example, anger can be a volcano that eventually explodes.

How you respond to anger can influence how your child responds to anger. Making it something you tackle together can help you both.

Help your child spot the signs of anger

Being able to spot the signs of anger early can help your child make more positive decisions about how to handle it.

Talk about what your child feels when they start to get angry. For example, they may notice that:

  • their heart beats faster
  • their muscles tense
  • they clench their teeth
  • they make a fist
  • their stomach churns

Anger tips for your child

Work together to try to find out what triggers the anger. Talk about helpful strategies for managing anger.

You could encourage your child to:

  • count to 10
  • walk away from the situation
  • breathe slowly and deeply
  • clench and unclench their fists to ease tension
  • talk to a trusted person
  • go to a private place to calm down

If you see the early signs of anger in your child, say so. This gives them the chance to try their strategies.

Encourage regular active play and exercise

Staying active can be a way to reduce or stop feelings of anger. It can also be a way to improve feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.

For older children or young people, this could be simple activities, such as:

  • a short walk
  • jogging or running

Read more about physical activity for children and young people .

Be positive

Positive feedback is important. Praise your child's efforts and your own efforts, no matter how small.

This will build your child's confidence in their ability to manage their anger. It will also help them feel that you're both learning together.

When to get help for anger in children

If you're concerned your child's anger is harmful to them or people around them, you could talk to a:

  • health visitor
  • school nurse

If necessary, a GP may refer your child to a local children and young people's mental health services for specialist help.

CYPMHS is used as a term for all services that work with children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional or behavioural wellbeing.

You may also be able to refer your child yourself without seeing a GP.

Read more about where to get mental health support .

Further help and support for anger in children

For more support with anger in children, you could phone the YoungMinds parents' helpline free on 0808 802 5544 (9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday).

Other sources of help and support include:

  • YoungMinds: parent's guide to supporting your child with anger
  • YoungMinds: anger – a guide for young people
  • MindEd for families: anger and aggression in children

If you have older children, find out more about talking to teenagers and coping with your teenager .

The Health for Teens website also has more about anger management

Page last reviewed: 24 April 2023 Next review due: 24 April 2026

how to deal with anger issues in 5 year old

Ages & Stages

how to deal with anger issues in 5 year old

10 Tips to Prevent Aggressive Behavior in Young Children

how to deal with anger issues in 5 year old

There are many times when your child's behavior warms and embraces your heart. But there are other times when it probably drives you a little crazy.

As a toddler or preschooler, your child may lack the self-control to express anger peacefully. Instead, they may naturally lash out, perhaps hitting or biting in frustration.

While occasional outbursts are normal―especially during temper tantrums ―there are things you can do to shape your child's behavior.

Teach your family's rules. Children don't understand rules until they're taught them. So, set clear rules and expectations for behavior. See " How to Shape & Manage Your Young Child's Behavior .")

"Control yourself." They can't yet. Remember, young children have little natural self-control. They need you to teach them not to kick, hit, or bite when they are angry, but instead to express their feelings through words.

Avoid threats. Rather than saying, "Stop it or else," it is always more effective to teach alternative behavior. Briefly ignore the minor misbehavior, then tell your child what to do instead.

"Great job!" For discipline to be most effective, it should take place on an ongoing basis — not just when your child misbehaves. Tell your child how "grown-up" they are acting when they behave in appropriate ways, rather than hitting, kicking or biting. Give praise and genuine affection when your child behaves in ways you like, such as being kind and gentle.

  • "We don't hurt each other." Supervise your child carefully and watch for conflicts with playmates. If a dispute is minor, keep your distance and let the children solve it on their own. However, step in if children get into a physical fight that continues even after they're told to stop. The same applies when one child seems to be in a rage and is hitting or biting the other. Pull the children apart and keep them separate until they have calmed down. If the fight is very violent, you may have to end the play session. Make it clear that it doesn't matter who "started it." Explain that there is no excuse for trying to hurt each other.

Instead of fighting. Teach your child to say "no" in a firm tone of voice, to turn their back, or to compromise instead of fighting with their body. Through example, teach them that settling differences with words is more effective--and more civilized—than using physical violence.

  • Use healthy distractions. While teaching your child appropriate ways to respond, there's also nothing wrong with distracting them when they are starting to get upset. Getting them involved in another activity can help calm them down. Just avoid "bribing" them to behave differently.

Use time-outs sparingly. There's also nothing wrong with using a time-out when your child's behavior is inappropriate. Time-outs should be a last resort, however. See How to Give a Time-Out for more information.

Control your own temper. One of the best ways to teach them appropriate behavior is to watch your own temper. If you express your anger in quiet, peaceful ways, your child probably will follow your example.

Stay strong. If you must discipline your child, do not feel guilty about it and certainly don't apologize. If your child senses your mixed feelings, they may decide that they were right all along, and you are the "bad" one. Although disciplining your child is never pleasant, it is sometimes a necessary part of parenthood. Your child needs to understand when they are in the wrong. Teach them to take responsibility for their actions and be willing to accept the consequences.

What's the difference between discipline and punishment?

While many parents think that discipline and punishment are the same thing, they are not.

Discipline is a way of teaching and a way of enhancing a good parent-child relationship. When you discipline, you should provide your child with praise along with instruction in a firm tone. Your intent is to improve their behavior.

Punishment is negative; you are dispensing an unpleasant consequence when your child does or doesn't do something. Punishment is a part of discipline, but only a small part.

Until age 3 and sometimes later, children simply don't understand the concept of punishment. Setting limits is a much better approach than punishment. Most children will respond to clear, calm and sure limit-setting.

When to call the pediatrician

If your child seems to be unusually aggressive for longer than a few weeks, and you cannot cope with their behavior on your own, consult your pediatrician. Other warning signs include:

Physical injury to themselves or others (teeth marks, bruises, head injuries)

Attacks on you or other adults

Being sent home or barred from play by neighbors or school

Your own fear for the safety of those around him

The most important warning sign is how often the outbursts happen. Sometimes children with behavior disorders will go for several days or a week or two without incident. They may even act quite charming during this time. However, few can go an entire month without getting into trouble at least once. Keep in close contact with your child's teacher, school and other caregivers to monitor their behavior.

Your pediatrician and other mental health specialists can help you find several effective ways to reward good behavior and discourage bad. These can be used to establish an approach that works both at home and away. The progress may be slow, but such programs usually are successful if started when behavior disorders are just beginning to develop.

The best way to prevent aggressive behavior is to give your child a stable, secure home life. Provide firm, loving discipline and full-time supervision during the toddler and preschool years.

More information

What's the Best Way to Discipline My Child?

Top Tips for Surviving Tantrums

How to Shape and Manage Your Young Child's Behavior

Creating Calm: How to Talk With Your Child When They're Stressed

Home » Tools for Your 5-Year-Old » Anger for Your 5-Year-Old

how to deal with anger issues in 5 year old

Anger for Your 5-Year-Old

Listen to an audio file of this tool.

Now is the Right Time!

As a parent or someone in a parenting role, you play an essential role in your child’s success. There are intentional ways to grow a healthy parent-child relationship, and growing your 5-year-old child’s skills to manage anger provides a perfect opportunity.

Children ages 5-10 are in the process of learning about their strong feelings. They do not understand the full body take over that can occur when they are angry. Feeling out of control because of anger can be scary and add to the length and intensity of their upset. Learning how to deal with anger without suppressing it, beating it down, or expressing it by hurting others and/or themselves is critical. And, your support and guidance matter greatly.

Research confirms that when young children learn to manage their feelings, it simultaneously strengthens their executive functions. 1 They are better able to use self-control, problem solve, and focus their attention. This directly impacts their school success. However, the opposite is also true. Those children who do not learn to manage their feelings through the guidance and support of caring adults may have attention issues and difficulty in problem solving.

Yet, everyone faces challenges in managing anger. Your child may slam the bedroom door as they refuse to tell you what is happening and why they are so upset. Or, you may hear from a teacher that your child has kicked another child on the playground. Anger may cover hurt, humiliation, fear, and stress. It may also mask guilt, shame, grief, or envy. Or, it could be the tip of an iceberg with a mass below of frustration.

The key to many parenting challenges, like managing anger, is finding ways to communicate so that both your needs and your child’s needs are met. The steps below include specific, practical strategies along with effective conversation starters to prepare you to help your child work through their anger in ways that build up their resilience.

Whether it’s your five-year-old breaking down in frustration over trying to tie their shoes by themself or your ten-year-old staying up late angry that a friend refused to play with them, learning how to deal with anger and its many accompanying emotions can become a regular challenge if you don’t create plans and strategies for managing them.

Today, in the short term, learning to manage anger can create

  • a sense of confidence that you can help your child regain calm and focus,
  • trust in each other that you have the competence to manage your big feelings, and
  • added daily peace of mind.

Tomorrow, in the long term, your child

  • builds skills in self-awareness,
  • builds skills in self-control and managing feelings, and
  • builds assertive communication to communicate needs and boundaries critical for keeping them healthy and safe.

Five Steps for Managing Anger

This five-step process helps you and your child manage anger. It also helps you build important skills in your child. The same process can be used to address other parenting issues as well ( learn more about the process ).

These steps are done best when you and your child are not angry, tired, or in a rush.

Intentional communication and a healthy parenting relationship will support these steps.

Step 1. Get Your Child Thinking by Getting Their Input

You can get your child thinking about ways to manage their anger constructively by asking them open-ended questions. You’ll help prompt your child’s thinking. You’ll also begin to better understand their thoughts, feelings, and challenges related to managing their anger so that you can address them. In giving input, your child

  • has the opportunity to become more aware of how they are thinking and feeling and understand when the cause of their upset is anger related;
  • can think through and problem solve any challenges they may encounter ahead of time;
  • has a greater stake in anything they’ve thought through and designed themselves, and with that sense of ownership, comes a greater responsibility for implementing new strategies; and
  • will be working with you on making decisions and understanding the reasons behind those decisions about critical aspects of their life.
  • “When do you feel angry?”
  • “What time of day?”
  • “What people, places, and activities are usually involved?”
  • Use your best listening skills! Remember, what makes a parent angry can differ greatly from what angers a child. Listen closely to what is most concerning to your child without projecting your own thoughts, concerns, and feelings.
  • Explore the mind-body connection. In calmer moments with your child, ask, “How does your body feel now?” See how descriptively they can list their physical signs of wellbeing. Next ask, “How does your body feel when you are angry?” For every person, their physical experience will be different. Find out how your child feels and make the connection between those symptoms and the normal feelings they are having.

Be sure you talk about anger at a calm time when you are not stressed or upset!

Step 2. Teach New Skills by Interactive Modeling

Because intense feelings like anger and hurt occur as you go about your daily life, you may not consider their role and impact on your child. Intense feelings can have a major influence on the day and on your relationship with your child. Learning about what developmental milestones your child is working on can help you better understand what your child is going through and what might be contributing to their anger or frustration. Here are some examples: 2

  • Five-year-olds are working hard to understand how things work, so they appreciate explanations and ask lots of questions. They are working hard to understand rules and want to help, cooperate, and follow them. They may be upset or disappointed when they do not understand a rule or struggle to show competence. They may get angry if they break a rule or if they see others breaking a rule. But, they are also beginning to test rules as they move from five to six, which can prompt a parent’s anger.
  • Six-year-olds can feel anxious as they want to do well in school and at home. They may be highly competitive and criticize peers while being sensitive to being criticized themselves. They care about friendships and may have upset feelings related to those relationships.
  • Seven-year-olds need consistency and may get angry and feel out of control when schedules are chaotic and routines change. They may be moody and require reassurance from adults. They take school and homework seriously and may even feel sick from worrying about tests or assignments. They can take academic failure personally and get angry and push away or neglect their work to avoid more failure.
  • Eight-year-olds have interest and investment in friendships. They seek peer approval and can experience upset when they are rejected by friends. They have a greater social awareness of local and world issues, so they may be concerned about the news or events outside of your community.
  • Nine-year-olds can be highly competitive and critical of themselves and others. They may worry about who is in the “in” and “out” crowds and where they fit in friendship groups. They may tend to exclude others in order to feel included in a group, so it’s a good time to encourage inclusion and kindness toward a diverse range of others. They may be just beginning puberty. They will be experiencing growth spurts and the associated clumsiness and awkwardness. Anger can be a result of rejection or judgment from peers.
  • Ten-year-olds have an increased social awareness and try to figure out the thoughts and feelings of others. With this awakening comes a newfound worry about what peers are thinking of them (for example, “He’s staring at me. I think he doesn’t like me.”). They can become angered if they feel judged even if they are making inaccurate predictions of peers’ feelings. They are also seeking more independence from parents, so they can get angry when parents treat them as they were treated in younger years or make them feel dependent (taking away some of their power).

Teaching is different than just telling. Teaching builds basic skills, grows problem-solving abilities, and sets your child up for success. Teaching also involves modeling and practicing the positive behaviors you want to see, promoting skills, and preventing problems.

  • Learn together! Anger and hurt are important messages to pay attention. They mean emotional, social, or physical needs are not getting met or necessary boundaries (rules, values) are being violated. It’s important to ask: “Why am I feeling this way? What needs to change in order to feel better?”

The primal brain — or amygdala

  • Anger is not bad or negative. You should not avoid or shut down the experience of it. There’s a good reason for it. Everyone has experienced someone in their life who has lost control and acted in ways that harmed themselves or others when angry. However, every feeling, including anger, serves a critical purpose. Anger provides essential information about who you are, what emotional or physical needs are not getting met, and where your boundaries lie. Understanding this often misunderstood emotion is key to helping your children better understand themselves and learn healthy ways to manage their intense feelings. 1
  • Expressing anger in a manner such as yelling will not dissipate it. In fact, research confirms that the expression of aggression, whether it’s yelling or hitting (and that includes parents hitting, yelling, or spanking), exacerbates the anger. 2
  • Venting, such as complaining, ranting, or even mumbling, does not get out the upset thoughts and feelings. In fact, venting is to anger as rumination is to worry. You can churn through worrying thoughts in your mind repeatedly, but those thoughts go nowhere and, ultimately, are unproductive. So too venting, whether you are listing off complaints to another or talking to yourself, tends to reinforce negative thinking. That’s because it does not offer an alternative view of the situation nor does it pose any solutions. Because venting doesn’t change thinking, the feeling persists.
  • Avoiding or pretending you are not angry will not make it go away in time. Because anger – like any other feeling – is emerging to send a vital message to its owner, it cannot be avoided or denied. When turned inward, that anger can become destructive in the body. Also, when anger is buried, it can be stuffed down for a time but may contribute to a larger explosion (that may not have occurred otherwise) because of the build up of heated emotions over time.
  • Create a plan. This is critical so you’ll know exactly what you’ll say, where you’ll go to calm down, and what you’ll do and consider when you are calming down. Then, prepare your family so that they understand your plan, will recognize when they see it, and can learn from it.
  • Breathe first. Slowing down your breathing serves a critical biological function. It allows those hormones that have surged from your anger to recede. Your body is able to regain its composure. And, your brain is able to think beyond fight, flight, or freeze. Practice deep breathing audibly. If you’ve practiced yoga, try using ujjayi breathing (or “ocean breath”) in which you breathe deeply through your nose while constricting your throat slightly producing a sound like the waves of the sea. Not only will the sound help calm you, but it will also emphasize and call attention to your breath for your young child to observe.
  • Use strange calm. Switch into slow motion. Use the burst of energy to become extremely slow and intentional about using your body. Breathe and go within to regain your calm. No matter what chaos is happening around you, you can be assured that you will accomplish nothing – except perhaps to make matters more contentious – by reacting in an angry moment.
  • Walk outside. The fresh air does help you breathe better and the natural surroundings are instantly calming.
  • Distract yourself. Research has found that distraction really does work to calm rage. Books, television, or movies can help.
  • Write. Writing down your angry thoughts (versus ruminating in your head about them) can offer you a chance to re-evaluate your situation. You can reframe it, look at it from another perspective, or search for the silver lining. When you reflect in your writing on what you can learn from the situation, it has a calming effect.
  • Brainstorm coping strategies. There are numerous coping strategies you and your child can use depending on what feels right. But, when you are really angry and upset, it can be difficult to recall what will make you feel better. That’s why brainstorming a list, writing it down, and keeping it at the ready can come in handy when your child really needs it. Here are some ideas from the author of “Coping Skills for Kids,” Janine Halloran: 5 imagine your favorite place, take a walk, get a drink of water, take deep breaths, count to 50, draw, color, and build something.
  • Work on your family feelings vocabulary . Yes, at times, parents and those in a parenting role have to become a feelings detective. If your child shuts down and refuses to tell you what’s going on, you have to dig for clues. Though your five, six, seven, or even ten-year-old has been speaking fluently for some time now, they take longer to develop their feelings vocabulary. That’s because they hear feelings expressed in daily conversations much less frequently than thoughts or other expressions. In fact, it’s necessary to be able to identify your emotions to become more self-aware and successfully manage your emotions.
  • Play feelings guessing games with the family. At a meal, share facial expressions showing a range of feelings and guess what they are. Or, ask each family member what they did today and see if you can guess their feeling from their expression.
  • Create a safe base. In a time when your child is not upset, talk about what makes your child feel better and offers comfort. Create a “safe base” with your child — a place in the house where your child can choose to go when they want comfort. Maybe, their calm down space is a beanbag chair in their room, a blanket, or special carpet in the family room. Then, think through together what items you might place there to help with the calm down.
  • When you notice the same upset running through their mind, teach your child to say “ Stop !” out loud. Then, ask your child to try out one of their coping strategies to help them feel better and let go of those nagging thoughts.
  • “What needs is my child not getting met?” Their needs can be emotional needs like: they need a friend to listen or give them attention, they need some alone time, or they need to escape a chaotic environment.
  • “Can the issue be addressed by my child alone or do they need to communicate a need, ask for help, or set a boundary?” One of the hardest steps to take for many can be asking for help or drawing a critical boundary line when it’s needed. You’ll need to find out what those issues are in your reflections with your child first. Then, guiding them to communicate their need is key.
  • Find small opportunities to help your child mend relationships. Siblings offer a regular chance to practice this! If there’s fighting, then talk to your child about how they feel first. When you’ve identified that they had a role in causing harm, brainstorm together how they might make their sibling feel better. You might ask, “ What could you do?”
  • Allow your child to supply answers and you may be surprised at how many options they come up with. Support and guide them to follow through on selecting one and doing it.
  • Here’s how it might sound if you use it with your child: “I feel frustrated and angry when you keep playing and seem like you are ignoring me because I believe what I have to say is important for both of us.”
  • If you are helping your child use this in communicating with a friend who has angered them, here’s how it might be used: “I feel angry when you play with Martin instead of me because I was counting on playing with you and now, I have no one to play with.”
  • Create a ritual for expressing gratitude so that it actually happens and becomes a habit. You might say what you are grateful for before each family meal together. Or, you might leave a chalkboard up to write down grateful words and statements. Or, you can make it a part of your bedtime routine while talking before your child goes to sleep. Consider that ending the day reflecting on the goodness in your lives could just be the best way to send your children off to sleep. Psychologists have done research on gratefulness and found that it increases people’s health, sense of wellbeing, and their ability to get more and better sleep at night. 6

Deep breathing is not just a nice thing to do. It actually removes the chemical that has flowed over your brain so that you regain access to your creativity, language, and logic rather than staying stuck in your primal brain. Practicing deep breathing with your child can offer them a powerful tool to use anytime, anywhere when they feel overcome with heated emotions.

Though at times it can feel like it, there are no “bad” feelings. All feelings have a positive intention. In fact, every feeling you have is a vital message from yourself quickly interpreting what’s happening around you. Because feelings are merely that – an instant interpretation – you’ll always have the opportunity to reinterpret your circumstances and particularly your response to your feelings.

Step 3. Practice to Grow Skills, Confidence, and Develop Habits

Practice can take the form of pretend play, cooperatively completing the task together, or trying out a skill with you as a coach and ready support. Practice is not only nice, it’s necessary in order for children to internalize new skills. That practice will help make vital new brain connections that strengthen each time your child performs the new action.

  • Use “ Show me…” statements and ask your child to demonstrate how they can use a skill they’ve learned to manage anger. Say, “Show me how you use your safe base to calm down.” This can be used when you observe their upset mounting.
  • Recognize effort by using “I notice…” statements like, “ I notice how you took some deep breaths when you got frustrated. That’s excellent!”
  • Accept feelings. If you are going to help your child become emotionally intelligent in managing their biggest feelings, it is important to acknowledge and accept their feelings – even ones you don’t like! When your child is upset, consider your response. You could say, “I hear you’re upset. What can you do to help yourself feel better?”
  • Hot Chocolate Breathing. Pretend to hold your hot cup of cocoa in both hands in front of you. Breathe in deeply the aroma of the chocolate. And then blow out to cool it in preparation for drinking. Do this to the count of five to give your child practice. Then, look for chances to practice it regularly.
  • Teddy Bear Belly Breathing. Balance a teddy bear on your child’s tummy and give it a ride with the rising and falling of their breath. This would be ideal to practice during your bedtime routine when you are lying down and wanting to calm down for the evening.
  • Follow through on repairing harm. When your child has caused harm, they need your guidance, encouragement, and support in following through to repair it. They may need to hold your hand through that process, and that’s okay! They are learning the invaluable skill of responsible decision making.
  • Include reflection on the day in your bedtime routine. You might ask, “What happened today that made you happy?” or “What were the best moments in your day?” or “What are you looking forward to tomorrow?” You should answer the questions as well. Children may not have the chance to reflect on what’s good and abundant in their lives throughout the day. Grateful thoughts are a central contributor to happiness and wellbeing.

Remember how you typically feel at the end of a long day before bedtime when you’ve gotten really angry with your child or other loved one? You may be internally beating yourself up for your own words and actions. Consider that your child might do the same. End the day with love. Although they need to hear it every day, they need to hear that you love them NO MATTER WHAT on those days in particular. You can rest assured that making a point of doing it will add to their resilience and strength.

Step 4. Support Your Child’s Development and Success

At this point, you’ve taught your child some new strategies for managing anger so that they understand how to take action. You’ve practiced together. Now, you can offer support when it’s needed by reteaching, monitoring, coaching, and when appropriate, applying logical consequences . Parents naturally offer support as they see their child fumble with a situation in which they need help. This is no different.

  • Ask key questions to support their skills. For example, “You are going to see Julie today. Do you remember what you can do if you start to get angry?”
  • Learn about your child’s development. Each new age presents different challenges. Being informed about your child’s developmental milestones promotes your empathy and patience.
  • Stay engaged. Working together on ideas for trying out new and different coping strategies can help offer additional support and motivation for your child when tough issues arise.
  • Apply logical consequences when needed. Logical consequences should come soon after the negative behavior and need to be provided in a way that maintains a healthy relationship. Rather than punishment, a consequence is about supporting the learning process . First, get your own emotions in check. Not only is this good modeling, when your emotions are in check, you are able to provide logical consequences that fit the behavior. Second, invite your child into a discussion about the expectations established in Step 2. Third, if you feel that your child is not holding up their end of the bargain (unless it is a matter of them not knowing how), then apply a logical consequence as a teachable moment.
  • American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Has definitions, answers to frequently asked questions, resources, expert videos and an online search tool to find a local psychiatrist.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Healthy Children Provides information for parents about emotional wellness, including helping children handle stress, psychiatric medications, grief and more.
  • American Psychological Association (APA) Offers information on managing stress, communicating with kids, making step-families work, controlling anger, finding a psychologist and more.
  • Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Provides free online information so that children and adolescents benefit from the most up-to-date information about mental health treatment and can learn about important differences in mental health supports. Parents can search online for local psychologists and psychiatrists for free.

Step 5. Recognize Effort and Quality to Foster Motivation

No matter how old your child is, your praise and encouragement are their sweetest reward.

If your child is working to grow their skills – even in small ways – it will be worth your while to recognize it. Your recognition can go a long way to promoting positive behaviors and helping your child manage their feelings. Your recognition also promotes safe, secure, and nurturing relationships — a foundation for strong communication and a healthy relationship with you as they grow.

You can recognize your child’s efforts with praise, high fives, and hugs. Praise is most effective when you name the specific behavior of which you want to see more. For example, “You took a deep breath when you got frustrated — that is a great idea!”

Avoid bribes. A bribe is a promise for a behavior, while praise is special attention after the behavior. While bribes may work in the short term, praise grows lasting motivation for good behavior and effort. For example, instead of saying, “If you include your sister in the game, I will let you choose the game we play after dinner” (which is a bribe), try recognizing the behavior after. “You worked hard to include your sister. Love seeing that!”

  • Recognize and call out when it is going well. It may seem obvious, but it’s easy not to notice when all is moving along smoothly. When children are using the self-management tools you’ve taught them, a short, specific call out is all that’s needed. “ I noticed when you got frustrated with your homework, you moved away and took some deep breaths. Yes! Excellent.”
  • Recognize small steps along the way. Don’t wait for the big accomplishments. Remember that your recognition can work as a tool to promote more positive behaviors. Find small ways your child is making an effort and let them know you see them.
  • Build celebrations into your routine. For example, “ We’ll get our business taken care of first with our bedtime routine, and then we’ll snuggle up to a good book and talk about our reflections from the day. ” Include hugs in your repertoire of ways to appreciate one another.

Engaging in these five steps is an investment that builds your skills as an effective parent to use on many other issues and builds important skills that will last a lifetime for your child. Throughout this tool, there are opportunities for children to become more s elf-aware, to deepen their social awareness, to exercise their self-management skills, to work on their relationship skills, and to demonstrate and practice responsible decision making .

[ 1 ] National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2004). Children’s Emotional Development Is Built into the Architecture of Their Brains: Working Paper No. 2 .

[ 2 ] wood, c. (2017). yardsticks; child and adolescent development ages 4-14. turners falls, ma: center for responsive schools., [ 3 ] goleman, d. (1994). emotional intelligence; why it can matter more than iq. ny, ny: bantham books., [ 4 ] miller, j.s. (2017). teaching young children about anger. thrive global., [ 5 ] halloran, j. (2017). raising kids who can cope with tough times. confident parents, confident kids., [ 6 ] emmons, m. (2007). thanks: how the new science of gratitude can make you happier. boston, ma: houghton mifflin harcourt., recommended citation: center for health and safety culture. (2020). anger. ages 5-10 . retrieved from

how to deal with anger issues in 5 year old was supported [in part] by CFDA 93.959 and 93.243 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative (PDG B-5), Grant Number 90TP0026-01-00, from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and by the Montana State General Fund. The views and opinions contained do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, and should not be construed as such.

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Home / Expert Articles / Child Behavior Problems / Anger

Angry Child Outbursts: 10 Essential Rules for Dealing with an Angry Child

By carole banks, lcsw.

Angry pre-teen child

If you’re a parent, it is a certainty that you have had to deal with an angry child. Often, we end up in shouting matches with our kids, or we freeze up, not knowing what to do when an angry outburst occurs.

Anger is a normal emotion in kids and adults alike. But how we express and deal with our feelings of anger is the difference between living in relative peace and feeling like we are at our wits’ end.

Learning to manage angry children and teens is an ongoing process and an important skill to learn. Read on to learn our top 10 rules for dealing with an angry child.

1. Don’t Yell at or Challenge Your Child During an Angry Outburst

Many times parents deal with angry outbursts by challenging their kids and yelling back. But this will just increase your feeling of being out of control. The best thing you can do is remain calm in a crisis.

Think of it this way: even if you get into a car accident and the other driver jumps out and is furious at you, if you can remain calm, they will probably start to relax and be reasonable. But if you come back at them with an aggressive response, and say, “What are you talking about, that was your fault,” the tension just stays at that heightened place.

So don’t challenge your child when he’s angry. That’s just adding fuel to the fire. Instead, patiently wait until he calms down.

Related content: Parenting an Angry, Explosive Teen: What You Should—and Shouldn’t—Do

2. Don’t Try to Reason with Your Child During an Angry Outburst

Many parents I talk with fall back on logic when their kids are angry. After all, as adults, we reason through things to defuse tense situations. But, reasoning with an angry kid is always a challenge because they don’t have the same capacity as we do to stop and reason.

So when you’re dealing with your angry child, you have to leave that verbal place where you feel pretty comfortable and use different techniques. Saying, “Why are you mad at me? You were the one who forgot your homework at school,” will only make your child angrier. Instead, wait until he calms down and then talk it through later.

3. Pay Attention to Your Reactions

It’s important to watch your reactions, both physical and mental. Your senses will tell you “Yikes, I’m in the presence of somebody who is very upset.” You’ll feel your heart start beating faster because your adrenaline will be heightened. Even though it’s difficult, the trick is to act against that in some way and try to stay calm.

Remember, you’re lending your children your strength in these moments. By staying calm, you’re showing them how to handle anger. By staying calm, you’re not challenging your child to engage in a power struggle.

Also, paying attention to your reactions will help your child pay attention to himself because he won’t need to worry about you or your emotions. When you don’t respond calmly, your child will work even harder at his tantrum to try to get you to pay attention to him. So you have to tap into some solid parenting skills to handle the outburst quickly and effectively.

4. Don’t Get Physical with Your Child

In our online parent coaching sessions , we sometimes hear from parents who have lost it and gotten physical with their kids. I took a call from a dad whose teenage son mouthed off to his mom, and the father shoved him. The fight escalated.

Afterward, the son would not speak to his father because he felt his dad should apologize to him. The father, on the other hand, felt that his son caused the problem and worried that his authority would diminish if he apologized. Here is what I advised him to say:

“I lost control and it was wrong for me to shove you. I apologize.”

That’s it. Nothing more. End of story. We all make mistakes from time to time and we apologize, make amends if necessary, and move on.

Don’t go into your child’s role in that situation at all because it is an attempt to place the blame on someone else for your actions. Instead, you want to teach your child how to take responsibility and make a genuine apology.

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Don’t worry, you will have other opportunities to work with your child around being mouthy or defiant. But it’s important to be a good role model and address your role in the fight going south. Remember, if you get physical with your child, among other things, you’re just teaching him to solve his problems with aggression.

Related content: How to Deal with a Mouthy Child

5. Take a Different Approach with Younger Kids

If your small child (eighteen months to age four) is in the midst of a temper tantrum, you want to move ever so slightly away from him, but don’t isolate him completely. When small kids are upset, you want to help them to start to learn that they can have a role in calming themselves down. You can say:

“I wish I could help you calm yourself down. Maybe you can lie on the couch for a little bit.”

So have them calm down until they feel in control. By doing that you’re asking them to pay attention to themselves. So instead of, “You have to sit there for ten minutes by yourself,” it’s better to say:

“When you feel better and you’re not upset anymore, you can come on out and join us.”

You can also give them a choice. You can say:

“Do you need time to go into your room and get it together?”

Again, don’t challenge them when they’re in that mode.

Related content: Dealing with Child Temper Tantrums

6. Don’t Freeze Up When Your Child Has a Tantrum

Some parents freeze up when their kids throw tantrums or start screaming at them. The parent is emotionally overwhelmed and becomes paralyzed with indecision or gives in to the child.

If this is you, you may find that sometimes your child will get angry on purpose to engage you. They’ll bait you by throwing a fit or saying something rude because they know that this will cause you to give in. Don’t take the bait. Don’t get angry and don’t give in.

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I think parents sometimes tend to negotiate with their child in these situations. Often, parents are having a hard time managing their own emotions and so they don’t know how to coach their child properly at that moment.

But remember, if you give in and negotiate, even every once in a while, you’re teaching your child that it’s worth it to act out. Instead, let your child calm down and try to coach them to use his problem-solving skills later.

Related content: Anger with an Angle: Is Your Child Using Anger to Control You?

In my opinion, when you refuse to negotiate you’re not being passive. On the contrary, you are consciously choosing to not get into an argument. You’re saying, “I’m not going to negotiate. I’m going to be calm.” Although it may not seem like it on the surface, all of those choices are actions.

7. Give Consequences for the Bad Behavior, Not for the Anger

When your child throws a tantrum, starts screaming, and loses it, make sure you give him consequences based on his behavior and not on his emotions.

For example, if your child swears at you during his angry outburst, give him a consequence later for swearing. But if all he does is stomp into his room and yell about how life isn’t fair, I would let that go. Anger is a normal emotion and kids get angry just like we do. And they need to feel that they have a safe place to let off steam.

As long as they’re not breaking any rules and not being disrespectful, I think you should allow them to have that time to be angry.

8. Don’t Give Overly Harsh Punishments

Giving harsh punishments in the heat of the moment is a losing proposition. Here’s why. Let’s say your child is angry. He’s having a tantrum and shouting and screaming at you. You keep saying, “If you don’t get it together, I’m going to take away your phone for a week. Okay, now it’s two weeks. Keep it up…now it’s a month. Do you want to keep going?”

But to your dismay, your child keeps going and you keep escalating the punishment. His anger is out of control and the more you try to punish him to force him to stop and get control of himself, the worse he gets.

We have a name for that kind of discipline: It’s called “consequence stacking.” What’s happening here is that the parent is losing emotional control. I understand that it is hard to tolerate it when your kid is upset. We don’t like it. But what you want to try to ask yourself is, “What do I want my child to learn?”

And the answer is probably something like: “I want him to learn how to not throw a fit every time he has to do something he doesn’t want to do. I want him to learn that when he gets upset, there’s an appropriate way to get out of it.”

The worst thing you can do is join him and get upset yourself. Harsh punishments that seem never-ending to your child are just not effective and will only make him angrier at that moment.

Remember, the goal is to teach your child to get control of himself. Effective and well thought out consequences play a role, but punitive consequence stacking is not the answer.

9. Take a Break

During coaching sessions, I’ll often ask parents about their child’s angry outbursts the following question: “When you and your spouse are mad at each other, what do you do to calm down?” Often, people will say they take a break and do something on their own for a little while until they can calm down and talk it through.

This technique also works with your child, but parents often don’t think of it because they feel they should have control over their kids. But remember, when somebody is angry, you can’t reason with them and you can’t rush it.

The bottom line is that if you stay there in that anger and keep engaging each other, it will not go away. On the contrary, it only gets bigger. 

So take a break and come back and interact with each other later when everyone is calm.

Related content: Child Outbursts: Why Kids Blame, Make Excuses and Fight When You Challenge Their Behavior

10. Role Model Appropriate Responses to Anger

I also tell parents they should try to be role models for dealing with anger appropriately. In other words, use managing your own anger as a lesson for your child. What are some good ways to do that? Try saying this to your child:

“I’m getting frustrated—I’m going to take a break.”

“I can’t talk to you right now. I’m really upset so I’m going to wait until I’m calm. Let’s talk later.”

Admitting that you’re angry and you need some time to calm down is not a weakness. It takes a lot of strength to say these words out loud. Remember, you’re teaching the lesson of how to manage your anger, and that’s exactly what you want your child to learn.

Related content: Dealing with Anger in Children and Teens: Why Is My Child So Angry? Kids Who are Verbally Abusive: The Creation of a Defiant Child

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About Carole Banks, LCSW

Carole Banks, LCSW holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of New England. Carole has worked as a family and individual therapist for over 16 years, and is a former online parent coach for Empowering Parents. She is also the mother of three grown children and grandmother of six.

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I have twin 4.5 year old boys (fraternal); in general there good boys with big hearts, socially comfortable and academically advanced. However, there behavior over the last couple months has been getting progressively worse and in opposite ways.. They seem to constantly be at odds with each other over almost anything.. Whats worse is that they both seem to instigate or provoke these tiffs which might just be associated with Twins escalation issues.. but my concern, anxiety, stress, insert any and every possible synonym related to "about to lose my marbles" etc.. is there seemingly lack of will toward emotional intelligence.. One twin has a short fuse, gets upset, tantrums, and at times physically aggressive with me, his twin brother and his teachers, when he doesn't get his way.. its not frequent but its becoming more frequent regardless of what methods I try... Then, we have the other twin who likes to instigate in a playful way, but is becoming increasingly emotional toward the littlest things but will do everything possible to test our patience with NO FEAR of consequences..

If you or anyone has any advice or suggestions.. please, I'm all ears. My sons are truly good boys at heart with above average intelligence and I'm just so desperate to find a healthy approach toward helping them move past this behavior and help them build healthy emotionally intelligent traits that foster continued academic and social achievement and happiness..

how to deal with anger issues in 5 year old

Thank you for reaching out to Empowering Parents. Many children lack frustration tolerance and effective problem solving skills for managing that frustration. The acting out behavior you're seeing is possibly a reflection of this. We have several articles that offer tips and techniques for managing this sort of aggressive behavior. You can find those here:

We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community and wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.

My 9yr old son has anger outbursts often. He will get mad over an issue with his siblings and even if he is in the wrong he explodes. Throws himself around like a toddler. Screaming and screeching when I try to remind him about the calming techniques we have gone through multiple times. He screams at me that they don't work.

The main issue with it all is that we can never discuss things afterwards. Once he has calmed down and I try and talk through things he gets right back to that level of anger.

He also loves to antagonize his siblings or make fun of them and when they react he acts like he didn't do anything to cause the problem.

How can we get to a point of being able to talk through things without him being so angry and stuck on always being right?

Thank you for reaching out to Empowering Parents. I can hear how stressful your 9 year old son's behavior is for you and your family. One thing that may help is using a privilege as a motivator for having a calm, respectful problem solving conversation. For example, if he starts to escalate when you try to follow up after things have calmed down, you could say something like "I can see you're still upset. We can talk about this later. However, until we are able to have a calm, respectful conversation about how you behaved, your screen time will be on hold" and then disconnect and walk away.

For more information on helping your child develop better problem solving skills, you can check out this article: We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

Thank you for providing this opportunity to share and to learn I’m really grateful. I am raising my seven year old grandson. His mother is a recovering addict and I’ve had him since he was a baby.. I understand that babies in utero that are exposed to substance-abuse definitely have brain damage right now he’s got a lot of aggressions and anger , diagnosed with ADHD and very disrespectful. He’ll throw trash at me when he’s angry and get very sassy and I’m just looking for ideas and things that I can do to mirror to him calm good behavior. Any suggestions I am grateful for, thank you

Hi, Suzanne. Thank you for reaching out. Your grandson is very lucky to have you guiding him and helping him develop the skills he needs. We have several articles that give tips and techniques for managing outbursts and temper tantrums that you may find helpful:

We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

Dev My son is 5, he can be fine one minute then go into a tempertantrum the next. He throws things, hits and calls his friends and teachers at school names. He has the same behavior at home and I've tried many approaches that just haven't worked. Any advice?

fussybaby I have a 7 yrs old boy, who is always gentle and quiet at school, but when he at home is another story. He often refuses to do something that he doesn't like, like getting out of bed, brushing teeth, dressing up, but he is also serious about the More consequence, so he will say" I don't want to brush my teeth, but I don't want my teeth gets cavity; When he is late for school, he will say:" I don't want to go to school but I want to learn and I don't want to be late." For this reason he refuses to go to school. He will keep saying these back and forth even if I told him it is better to be late than absent, but this will get him more anger. He is very struggle with himself no matter how I clarify to him. The reason he was late is because he play on bed for 30 mins when he support to do the morning routine, and I also remind him many time that it is time to get ready for school. I found him doesn't understand what we said at some point, it is something about communication barriers, he seems has not developed enough for our concept and EQ is under his age.

Thank you for reaching out to Our main focus is children over the age of 5 because they usually have developed enough that our concepts will work with them. We have a few articles about younger children you may find helpful,

We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Take care.

We hear from many parents sharing similar stories, so you are not alone. You may find it helpful to review these articles on how to address aggression here:

Thank you for reaching out. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

You bring up a situation many parents have experienced. It can be tough to stay calm and in control in the face of acting out behavior. We have several articles on Calm Parenting you may find helpful:

Thank you for reaching out. Be sure to check back and let us know how everything is going.

Concerned parent What do you do when you've remained calm at the start of an angry outburst, say I'm going to take a little break and we can continue playing when you are a bit calmer, then your child screams at you and gets physical? This is an 8 year old boy.

Bri Hi I have a son who is six who has very angry outbursts a lot lately especially this past year and a half, at first it started as yelling then it moved to throwing things and breaking stuff and now he has been violent he has hit his sister More and not just with his hands and leaving marks on her to a point I have to be wherever they are in the house out of fear of what he’ll do. He has threatened to run away on numerous occasions says he hates everyone I feel like I have tried everything i do timeouts I have taken thing, ice tried being calm I’ll admit I’ve yelled Out of anger and it seems like its only getting worse. My husband and I are at a loss on what to do. It’s so frustrating but it’s definitely nice to know I’m not alone here

lostmom Hi! I have a 7 year old son who has horrible angry outbursts at home. At school and church, he is super quiet, polite, and has never once gotten in trouble. Everyone always comments on how sweet he is. But when he is at home, its another story. If told More to do something he doesn't want to do (brush your teeth, go to bed, pick up your room, put up your phone, get in the car, etc.) he will flip. He will tell me and his dad we are the worst parents ever. That he hates us, etc. He will kick things and scream loudly. Extremely rude multiple times a day. I know how important it is to be calm, and I feel like I try so hard. But it's not working. I don't know what to do. Today, he got mad at his sister and pulled a huge chunk of her hair out. I don't know if I've ever been so upset. Of course, I yelled with anger. I don't even know how to punish him. I've found nothing that works. Help please. Open to any and all suggestions.

WOW Parenting These are very helpful rules to deal with kids anger. Keeping a calm is key to handle kids anger. Thanks for sharing. But before that setting up a good example of own anger and frustration in front of your kids will surely affect them positively. They are likely to learn More this ability from parents.

ESM My 16 year old has a habit of falling asleep after school and he is impossible to wake. When we finally get him up for dinner or homework he is in a horrible mood and fights with us. Any suggestions?

stuart our 4 year old boy he is in foundation class, but going to school in the mornings is a fight sometimes for my partner it can be brutal. He will not allow us to get him dressed and cries and goes berserk, we have to have to carry him to More the car virtually undressed screaming he even pulls my partners hair and bites she is in tears. I am afraid to say i do get physical and have to hold him down with some force into his seat and try and buckle him in he actually removes the seatbelt and tries to get out of the car when we are moving. My other 2 children who are girls 7-9 yo get very destressed and cry i have put the child locks on to stop any harm coming to him, we are at our wits end now considering taking him out of school and doing home tutoring will this mean he has won his battle with us and what will it mean to his further schooling??

Melinda I enjoyed this article! I want ti read more!

Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach I hear how much you care about your grandson, and want to help him move forward in a positive direction. I’m glad that you’re here. One aspect you might consider working on with him is helping him to develop more appropriate skills for the future. Something to More keep in mind is that consequences and punishments by themselves do not change behavior if a child is not learning what to do differently moving forward. You can find more about this, as well as how to structure this type of conversation, in The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems” . Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.

very good article. About admitting being angry...I do it, and notice that sometimes my daughter feels guilty for making me angry and then turns the anger towards herself. I don't want her to feel guilty, I only need to leave the room to cool down and not get as angry as she is. Any tips there?

Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach Figuring out how to respond effectively to a child’s anger can be quite challenging, so you are not alone in this situation. Something that can be useful is to talk about a plan with your daughter during a quiet time about how both of you can calm down and More work through your anger appropriately moving forward. You might also think about how you are phrasing this when you are in the moment with your daughter. For example, instead of saying something like, “You are making me so angry right now!!”, you might choose to say something like, “I need a few minutes to calm down. Let’s take a break.” You might find additional tips on creating this plan in How to Handle Temper Tantrums: Coaching Kids to Calm Down . Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your daughter. Take care.

Firstly, thank you for the informative article.

I am a single mum of a 9yr old boy who I really need some sort of advice, guidance and help with. His dad has never been a big part of his life but there has never been any animosity between us and my son had always been a regular boy in respect of behaviour issues until around 6 months ago when things have escalated into some rather worrying situations.

I should mention that when my son was 2, I entered into a relationship which became rather unhealthy however I failed to realise just how bad until I was in too deep. My ex has all the characteristics of a narcissist and was very controlling without me even realising it. We ended after 5 years but surprisingly on good terms. I was worn out and he lost control of me so we were both willing to walk away. That was 2 years ago and I have remained single.

My son has always been a bit cheeky in that he answers back a lot but never had been aggressive. It started with little things like when I say we were going shopping after school, he would at first refuse, then ask what I needed to get then he tries to hold me to it saying well that is all we are getting and argues constantly with me. He always contradicts everything I say and if I am being honest, it's as though he has developed some of the controlling and belittling characteristics from my ex which I know I need to take responsibility for and I have tried a lot of the tips in this article.

About 1 month ago, he was answering back and being disrespectful so I banned him from his computer. When he refused to get dressed so we could go do the shopping, i banned him from his phone.

I then had nothing left and whilst I always try to avoid spanking, I told him if he did not get dressed, he would get a smacked bottom. Still refusing to get dressed, he ran downstairs. I went calmly down the stairs after hI'm but when I went to the kitchen where he was, he had pulled a large knife out and was pointing it at me with a glazed, angry, yet tearful look in his eyes. This did really scare me and initially I froze. I didn't recognise my son, so much so that I would not attempt to get the knife from him as I was unsure how he would react so trying to remain as calm as possible, I told him if he didn't put it back, I would call the police. Only when I got the phone and pretended to talk to the police did he put it away.

I was so shocked, after explaining to him how terrible what he did was and how he made me feel, I went upstairs and just cried. I went upstairs as I did not want him to see how upset he made me as this seems to only empower him however he walked past my room saw me and just went to his room.

Once we were dressed, I took him to my mums as I needed support and guidance. When she asked him why he did it and explained how upset he made me, he just shugged his shoulders and smiled.

He hasn't done this again since however he does now punch my arms and kick or stand in my way and I am finding it very hard to know what to do in these situations. You are right in saying that trying to discuss or reason 'in the moment' does not work as a child's logic is much like tunnel vision. I am very scared for my son and feel ashamed that I introduced him to this behaviour. My ex and I had a couple of arguments that turned physical in the 5years but nothing so serious and never physical in front of my son but he did hear the arguments. I have a brother who is bi-polar and being very close to my mum and him has also introduced my son to other unacceptable behaviour. My brother had pulled a knife out once at my mums but was not threatening any of us with it and I can only assume that is where my son picked this up however my son understands my brother has problems in his head that prevent him from thinking and acting rationally and that he takes medication for this which my son explains in his own words so I know he understands the difference.

I am working on undoing the behaviours he has grown to believe as being those of a man but u don't know given the severity of the recent incident if I should seek medical help or not. We have just returned from holiday where I took my mum with us and she has said how she has noticed a big change in him. He is very disrespectful to her and I and often tries to antagonise or create situations/arguments and seems to enjoy them. I know my son would like a better relationship with his dad as he has only seen him 6 times (he lives far away and was with the army for 5 years) and has since had a daughter who is always there with her mum when my son has since his dad. I do feel for my son as I see the hurt he feels when he sees how close his dad is with his sister yet he barely knows him. It's like he feels like an intruder on there family. I am trying to get his dad on board to visit more and offered to travel to him asking for just him and my son to spend time together but now he has left the army and gone back in the police force, I aren't sure he will find the time.

Can you offer any advice at all. It would be greatly appreciated.

Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach I recognize how concerned you are about your son’s behavior, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for assistance. Many parents worry about aggressive and violent behavior, and I hear how much you blame yourself for your son’s actions. Although your son may have been exposed More to inappropriate and unhealthy behavior from your ex and your brother, in the end, he is still the one responsible for his own actions and choices. In addition, if you are worried that there might be something else going on with your son, it can be a good idea to check in with your son’s doctor and share your concerns. Because s/he is able to directly observe and interact with your son, his doctor will be in a good position to assess any underlying issues which might be at play, and to provide referrals for follow-up as needed. In the meantime, you might find some helpful strategies in Stop Aggressive Behavior in Kids and Tweens: Is Your Child Screaming, Pushing and Hitting? Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.

Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach I hear you. It can be so challenging when a young child frequently gets upset and has tantrums. It’s actually quite normal for young children to become easily frustrated and throw tantrums, due to their developmental stage. Children your son’s age tend to have a low tolerance More for frustration, poor impulse control, and few appropriate coping skills to use when they become upset, and so they tend to resort to tantrums and other inappropriate behaviors. You might find some useful tips in Explosive Child Anger: Taming Your Toddler’s Temper Tantrum . In addition, a common trigger for frustration in young children is the inability to effectively communicate their needs. If your son is not talking at this point, this could be a contributing factor to his behavior as well. You might consider checking in with his doctor, who might be able to give you additional tips and techniques you can try with your son. I recognize what a tough stage this can be, and I wish you and your son all the best moving forward. Take care.

Wonderful, WONDERFUL article! I stumbled across this at my wit's end with my preschooler. She's just turned 4 and today I had a meeting with her junior kindergarten teachers. They were wanting my help with controlling her behaviour.

The situation feels so hopeless to me.

She's very clever, and won't play along with bribes or consequences. She's stubborn, and when she can't do what she wants, when she wants, she becomes this tiny ball of incomprehensible rage.

At home we give her space to calm down. We talk about it afterward. We name her feelings, we make 'Calm down' plans. We gave up on time out (extreme violence made her a danger to herself and to the house), so now we just give her a safe space to let her feelings out.

Once the storm has passed she is talkative again and reasonable. She's never remorseful, though, which makes my husband worry she has a mental issue.

But it doesn't seem to make a difference, all the calm down plans in the world don't help her. We practice breathing when she's calm, but when she can't have what she wants she won't do it. Reminding her seems to enrage her further. We made a fun day of building one of those glitter jars that are supposed to help calm down - when she had an opportunity to use it she smashed it against a table and broke it.

When she's angry she has destroyed beloved and cherished objects. Afterwards she's indifferent. She ripped the head off her lovey doll and destroyed it beyond repair. Once she had calmed down she threw it out herself and said she didn't care that she ruined it.

I just don't know what to do with her. At school she is a danger to the other students. I've been informed of parents calling in because there are spreading about her behaviour and they're concerned their child will be hurt.

This article feels like I've finally found something that maybe MAYBE will help.

She's only 4 though.

Please, can you give me any advice?

I should add, my husband and I are not violent people. We've never raised more than our voices - but we're usually not yellers either. Especially with her. We always try to stay calm and empathize that we can see she's struggling and we want to help. We also don't give in to her fits of rage, so I know she's not doing it because it 'works' to get her what she wants.

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport HawkEyesBleed Thank you for your kind words, and I’m glad that you found our site as well!  It’s not uncommon for kids your daughter’s age to have aggressive, destructive outbursts, and you are not alone in experiencing this type of behavior.  At this age, kids tend to have a low More tolerance for frustration, poor self-control, and few appropriate coping skills to use when they become upset.  It’s also pretty normal for young children to lack remorse for their actions once they are calm, because they tend to lack a well-developed sense of empathy as well.  I’m glad to see that you have talked with your daughter when things are calm about other ways she can cope when she becomes upset, as well as doing your best to remain calm when she is having an outburst.  I encourage you to continue to take these steps.  You might find some additional helpful techniques in, as well as  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport rkline27 We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your perspective.  I hear how much you want to help the families you are called to in the course of your duties.  Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in More the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role. It may be helpful to talk with your supervisor about your role in these situations, and how you can respond effectively when you are called to assist with angry, defiant teens.  You might also find it helpful to do some research on local resources which might be useful for these families.  The 211 National Helpline is a referral service available 24 hours a day, nationwide. They can give you information on the types of support services available in your area such as counselors, support groups, crisis services, kinship services as well as various other resources. You can reach the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto We wish you the best going forward. Take care.

I have a 6 year old daughter who is having trouble dealing with her anger and I don't know how to help her.

Sometimes, she will go off on her own- to her room or a quiet area (when at school) to calm down, which in part seems healthy. The problem is that she will often take an hour or more. While somewhat disturbing at home, it can be quite a problem at school. She doesn't want anybody to come and try to make it better. She just wants time, but it takes so long. Once it is over, she will come out of her room (where I have NOT sent her- she goes by herself) like nothing has happened.

Other times, particularly when she and I clash, as mothers and daughters often do, she gets completely out of control yelling, screaming and stomping. I try to stay calm, but she has hit me and thrown things at me, and I honestly don't know what to do. My husband and I have never hit each other or thrown things. I can be a yeller, but have really been working on that.This usually happens when my husband is not at home. She has had one of these episodes with my Mother in Law. After one of her outbursts last night where she said she wanted to "rip the house apart" and "break everything", and she finally calmed down, she was crying and just kept saying as she cried, "I don't know how to control my anger!" I felt so sad. I have tried to give her suggestions such as breathing, reading a book, coloring, but in the heat of the moment she will do none of these things. I am at a loss as to how to help her.

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport KelliSay I hear you.  It can be so challenging when your young child is acting out, and you don’t know how to help her.  It’s pretty common for children your daughter’s age to have difficulty managing strong emotions appropriately, as they tend to have a low tolerance for frustration and More few appropriate coping skills to use when they become upset.  The fact that she is willing to go to a quiet space and calm down at times is really encouraging.  Sometimes it can be a process of trial and error to find other appropriate coping skills she can use to work through her anger.  I encourage you to involve her in the brainstorming process of coming up with other skills she can use, instead of simply telling her what to try, as this can make it more likely that she will follow through on using them.  You might find some additional helpful information in  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your daughter.  Take care.

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport Jenniifer a k I’m sorry to hear about your family’s involvement with DCFS, and I’m glad to hear that you have been reunited with your daughter.  It’s not uncommon for young children to have difficulty managing their anger appropriately.  This is because they tend to have a low tolerance for More frustration, poor self-control, and few appropriate coping skills to use when they become upset.  If you are still working with the caseworker from DCFS, s/he might be a good resource for you for assistance in developing a plan to set limits with your daughter while also reconnecting with her and rebuilding your bond.  You might also find some helpful information on handling these outbursts in our article,  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.

Hi im new to this site after seeking for some answers on how to manage my 10year old sons anger issues. ive tried my best and now ive come to the conclusion that im fighting a loosing battle, but scared that if we dont find a solution now it will only get worse as he approaches his teenage years.

Back story is that myself and his biological dad seperated when he was 2 years old which unfortunaltely wasnt a pleasant experience and my son was witness to a few cross words between us. His dad is a very bitter man amd has a very unique awkward personality so i assume my son has picked up on that. However since then i remarried and have been with my current partner for 6 years who my son chooses to refer to him as his dad (which obviously did not go down well with his dad) however time has passed and we have just tried to deal with the situations that have been thrown at us (my son goes to his dads twice a month and each time he comes home he is so wound up and angry but every time i approach the subject with his dad i never got any where productive with him so i gave it up as a bad job) but recently my sons anger and outbursts are obviously becoming harder to control as he is getting older. he is a very intelligent young man and even says him self he cant help its just the way he is. However, his behaviour is becoming more challenging and im starting to feel vulnerable. he is very stubborn amd even tried to stare me down today during a disagreement. Im at my witts end with him now and dont know what to do for the best anymore. my husband backs me up and my son even talks to him with no respect. ive read the books and searched web sights for advice but i just cant seem to help my son manage this anger. which seems to be triggered by him not getting his own way

i thought he would have grown out of it but like i said it seems to be getting worse as he ages. Please have you got any advice?

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport challengedparent Anger can be a difficult emotion to manage for both kids and adults, so you are not alone in seeking out answers to this.  I’m glad you found our site.  Something to keep in mind is that the problem is not that your son is angry, but rather how More he chooses to express his anger.  Therefore, part of addressing this with your son will be to figure out more appropriate ways he can work through anger when it occurs.  We have numerous articles, blogs and other resources which address here on our site.  One you might find helpful to read next is  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.

I'm a dad with 2 girls who live with their mum.. I see them at weekends.. I also live with a woman and her 10 year old son. He knows I'm not his real dad and he thinks I show the girls more love.

My partner and I also have a 3 year old girl who is adorable.

My issue is with the 10 yr old boy. We clash a lot. He is so cheeky rude and answers back. . He pulls a funny face when I'm telling him something.. This makes me so angry.

I've never ever felt like this with anyone other than this boy.. I resent him a lot... I know it's wrong but when he walks in the room I will roll my eyes and think here comes trouble..

He bugs the other kids gets in their faces and I'm sure the 3 yr old girl acts up now because of having him bugging her all the time..

He gets very angry when you ask him to do anything if he's busy with something like his xbox or laptop.. he's glued to watching mine craft videos on YouTube but we saw him watching a violent one recently...

He's been this way since I met him 6 years ago..

On a recent family holiday he was so bad my partner and I fell out .. I want to give him a ban from any fun for a few weeks but mum says it's best to do 3 warnings then a 1 day ban.. so frustrated because it's like he's got no respect for anyone or anything.. In the past few years he's thrown things at walls.. punched doors and made all manner of threats..

We've tried keeping calm and admittedly gotten angry with him far too many times. .. I've pushed him and threatened him to stop being naughty when he's pushed one of the other kids. Ie my two girls from first relationship. .

I've tried giving him lines.. and found pen marks and dents in the table when he's forced then pen down in anger.. feeling helpless...

I feel it would sometimes be easier apart.

Familyl say we need to keep calm and I need to do stuff with him.. fine but I'm trying to grow a business so am often preoccupied. .

My dad says he needs a shock budge from my elbow but I don't feel comfortable at the idea of being physical.. I know it's wrong..

I don't feel like I can say "I love him" like the way in love the rest purely because of his behaviour..

What should I do?

Angrydad Thanks.. He had lines tonight.. I could see him eating his tea very slowly to avoid doing his lines.. Still. . As I asked him I got all the usual.. You're mean daddy.. I smiled and kept calm ..

I have an 18 year old daughter that does not listen to anything I ask of her. She stays out at nights, calls me names like stupid, and crazy. I suspect she smokes marijuana as I have found a lighter in her book bag and confronted her on it. She told me the lighter was not hers. She has been out of high school since I May 2016. She goes to community college and has a part-time job. She refused to pay on her cell phone which is on my plan so I am paying the bill. She will not be using the service though. She also refused to pay rent, a small stipend (less than $100 a month). She did not call home when she had a phone and since I cut it off, she has not tried to compromise about about the bill. She has not spoken to me in 3 weeks. When she is in the home, she does not speak to me and keeps her door closed. I don't know what I'm dealing with. I do not know her anymore. Help!

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport WhyMe01 I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your daughter, and I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support.  It can be so difficult when your young adult child is mistreating you and not following the rules.  As James Lehman points out in his More article,, it can be helpful to think of young adult children as house guests or tenants, rather than as a child.  What behavior would you tolerate with a tenant, and what rules would you put in place?  For example, you probably wouldn’t take it personally if a tenant didn’t want to socialize, and at the same time, you probably wouldn’t tolerate name-calling.  Once you have determined your boundaries, it can be useful to with your daughter which outlines your expectations for her behavior while she is living in your home.  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your daughter.  Take care.

I am a preschool teacher. I have a student who has frequent angry and aggressive outbursts. I have figured out that he is not getting a lot of sleep at home and is most likely acting out due to exhaustion. He just turned 3 and can explain why he's upset when there is a reason (isn't in front of the line, friend took his toy, etc.) but more often than not, he explains that he doesn't know why he's upset. I've spoken to the parents but I'm certain that the child is still exhausted all of the time. So, I have to work with what I have... exhausted or not. How do I help this child?

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport MsTeacher It can be quite difficult when a child is acting out and disruptive in the classroom, and you are limited in terms of what you can do to address the cause of this behavior.  I am glad that you are talking with the child’s parents about his behavior, and More I encourage you to continue to do so.  You might also talk with your supervisor about your school’s disciplinary procedures to help you manage your classroom.  Thank you for your question; take care.

Please advise. I am new to this site and read some of your articles. I tried to have a problem solving discussion with my ASD, ADHD son last night. He became physically uncomfortable and anxious about the topic of solving a problem. He dug his heels in and insisted he is incapable of solving anything. But he is very smart in science and loves engineering. I pointed out how that is all problem solving and how great he is at it. It still ended in a panic attack. How can I help him feel comfortable enough to engage in such a discussion?

Your advise is greatly appreciated

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport Schweible  Welcome to our community; we are glad you are here!  I hear you.  It’s pretty common for most kids (and even some adults) to feel uncomfortable when they have to talk about poor choices they have made, or rules they have broken, so your son’s response is not unusual. More  Something that can be useful is to schedule your problem-solving conversation ahead of time, and give your son a task to complete before then.  For example, you might say something like, “I want to talk with you about XYZ after dinner tonight.  Take some time this afternoon, and write out what happened along with 3 other ways you could have handled this situation.”  You can find more tips on having effective problem-solving conversations in our article,  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your son.  Take care.

you.It sounds like you are dealing with

some very frightening statements and behavior from your younger son, and I’m

glad that you are reaching out for support.At this point, I strongly encourage you to work with local resources to

develop a plan to keep everyone safe in your home.If you are not currently working with anyone,

try contacting the at

1-800-273-6222.211 is a service which

connects people to resources in their community, such as crisis response services,

and counselors.I also recommend

securing any potentially dangerous items, such as knives and hammers, until

your son is better able to control his impulses.I can only imagine how scary this must be for

you right now, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.Take care.

I recognize your concern for your 10 year old, and I’m glad that you are

reaching out for support.We do not

recommend using the “silent treatment” with kids, because it will not teach

your son more effective coping skills, and could negatively impact your

relationship with him.At this point, I

encourage you to talk with your son about the note you found, and to talk about

what else your son can do to cope instead of running away.You might find our article series on running

away helpful as you continue to move forward.Here is the first article in the series: be sure to write back and let us know

how things are going for you and your family.Take care.

A mom in need of help 

I’m so sorry to hear about the struggles you are experiencing

with your son, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support both in your

community and here online.I encourage

you to continue working with your son’s counselor and psychiatrist to address

his threats to harm others as well as his unsafe choices.You might talk with his counselor to see if

s/he has any suggestions for what you can do at home to support the work being

done in their sessions to help your son manage his emotions more effectively.I also hear your concern for your son’s

future.While this response is normal, I

encourage to stay in the present and avoid

as much as possible, so that you can better respond to the behavior you are

seeing right now.I recognize how

challenging this must be for you right now, and I wish you and your family all

the best moving forward.Take care.

Hello, my name is Felice. I have a four year old who throws tantrums whenever he have to sit down n do some work. It doesn't matter even if it's painting. The most difficult part is when he is asked come and sit down for his Quran. Before the studying starts it will be a major tantrum of shouting n crying.

I will be honest, I loose myself because he refuses to study Quran. It gets very ugly n physical.i regret it later.

I have put away all his vehicle toys because he refuses to study. But it doesn't seem to get into his head.

How do I deal with this. I really need some help

I hear you.It can be so challenging

when you are dealing with tantrums, shouting and crying whenever you attempt to

have your child do his work.It’s

actually quite common for kids your son’s age to have tantrums and

outbursts.This is because they tend to

have a low tolerance for frustration, poor impulse control, and few appropriate

coping skills.Dr. Joan Simeo Munson

outlines effective techniques you can use in the face of your son’s outbursts

in addition, you are not alone in feeling

frustrated and angry in response to your son’s behavior.I encourage you to develop some strategies to

respond to your son more effectively than becoming physical with him, as this

is not teaching him how to comply and meet his responsibilities in the

future.You might find some helpful tips

on other techniques you might try in our article, hope that you will write back and let us

know how things are going for you and your family.Take care.

@Hina Urooj 

We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

sharing your story. I understand your concern about your brother’s behavior,

and the possibility of hurting himself or someone else.Because we are a website aimed at helping

people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and

suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role.Another resource which might be more useful

to you is the Boys Town National Hotline, which you can reach by calling

1-800-448-3000, 24/7. They have trained counselors who talk with kids, teens

and young adults everyday about issues they are facing, and they can help you

to look at your options and come up with a plan.They also have options to communicate via text,

email, and live chat which you can find on their website, We wish you

the best going forward. Take care.

JohninAus sarahbrown321 Sarah - this sounds similar to my 9 year old, who is aso overly sensitive and quite fragile if challenged or not getting her own way.  Her reactions are over the op and we are putting it down to a lack of confidence in herself.  We've just completed a More confident kids course and whilst it has not provided an immediate solution it has goven us a common language that we can talk about anxiety, confidence, resilience and some tools to improve her decision making through recognising that she is anxious or nervous, and focusing her energy inward to try and cope better.  Good luck. John

BillCarlos Excellent advise! I needed to read something like this and recommend it to other parents who are dealing with tweens!.

While time sensitive situations

are something your child needs to learn to manage appropriately, your response

is not going to be different than a situation that is not time sensitive. Like

the above article mentions, it is most effective to avoid power struggles by

doing things like keeping your cool and not giving consequences in the moment.

These things only tend to escalate a situation, rather than get your child to

comply. By having problem solving conversations when things are calm about

morning or bedtime expectations, you can help your child to learns ways to

manage their time better. For more on effective problem solving conversations,

check out this article by Sara Bean Thank

you for reaching out with your question. Take care.

I’m sorry to hear

about what you are experiencing with your son, between his refusal to go to

school and his abusive behavior toward you and his sister when you are

attempting to get him out of bed.  Working with the school to hold him

accountable for his refusal to go is something that we recommend doing. 

As James Lehman points out in, problem-solving

with your son at home during a calm time is another step you can take.  I

recognize how challenging this situation must be for you, and I wish you all

the best moving forward.  Take care.

Tanya clackson  

We speak with many parents who describe a similar pattern

of a child becoming angry, then the parent becomes angry, and the whole

situation tends to escalate from there.  You are not alone.  When you

find yourself in these power struggles with your son, the most effective thing

you can do is to focus on your own response and remaining calm and in control,

so you can help your son to calm down as well.  I realize that this is

much easier said than done; however, giving your son consequences or continuing

to argue with him is unlikely to change this pattern.  We have many

articles on calm parenting which you might find helpful; here are a few to help

you get started: and 

Please let us know if you have any additional questions.  Take care.

It can be so

difficult when your child is acting out aggressively with other kids, and is

not following the rules at school.  You are not alone in this

situation.  It’s not uncommon for kids to tell parents that they will do

better and try harder to follow the rules, then continue acting out.  This

does not mean that your son is lying to you or doesn’t mean it when he says

these things.  It might be that he doesn’t have the skills to know what to

differently when he becomes angry or upset.  You might consider having a with him during a calm time about specific actions he can use

instead of becoming aggressive.  I also encourage you to read our article

series, and, for

more advice and techniques you can use.  I recognize how difficult this

must be for you and your family, and I wish you all the best moving

forward.  Take care.

Hi, our 5 year old son (soon to be 6 in a couple of weeks) can be a very loving and caring little boy but he is also very strong minded and is ridiculously competitive to the point where when he's at football training if things are not going his way (I.e someone doesn't pass to him or he doesn't score a goal) he starts to have a melt down, he will start to shout & scream at his teammates or kicks out at them or walks off the pitch altogether and cries and shouts at us blaming everyone else. I get quite embarrassed as no one else's child acts this way, the others all seem to enjoy themselves but my son is so fixated on winning and being the best.

He is an only child but we are quite mindful of making sure he knows he is part of a team and that everyone is learning but he seems to think he's Ronaldo!

We've tried to say if he continues to act this way we won't take him back or stop his treats but he still continues. He gets himself into such a state and we don't know how to keep him calm.

Please help, we don't want to stop him doing team sports but if he can't learn to be a team player I don't see any other option until he is old enough to understand better.

It can be pretty embarrassing for most parents when your

child is having a meltdown in public; you are not alone in feeling this

way.  It’s actually quite normal for kids your son’s age to have outbursts

like this as part of their stage of development.  They tend to have a low

tolerance for frustration, poor impulse control, and few coping skills to use

when they become upset, which is a potent combination for a tantrum.  This

is not to say that you cannot address this, or that you have to take him out of

team sports, though.  Something you might consider is having ongoing with him during a calm time, such as before he goes to

practice, about what he can do instead of screaming, kicking, or walking off

when things don’t go his way on the field.  You also might consider if he attempts to use these new skills at practice.  Please

be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your

family.  Take care.

It can be so difficult to figure out how to address

outbursts and similar behavior when they occur outside of your home, and I’m

glad that you are reaching out for support.  Now that things have calmed

down, I encourage you to have a with your son about what happened over the weekend, and what

he could have done differently instead of becoming abusive toward his brother

and grandma.  You might also talk with your son about to both his brother and his grandma for his behavior over the

weekend.  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are

going for you and your son; take care.

I’m so sorry to hear

about this incident with your son, and the limited assistance you have been

able to find from agencies such as law enforcement and CPS.  I understand

your concerns about your safety based on the threats and physical abuse

directed toward you.  At this point, it could be useful to figure out your

options and come up with a plan to keep everyone safe from your son’s physical

attacks.  Part of that might be, as well as discussing options with his

treatment team about how to handle his aggression.  You might find

additional information in our article as

well.  Thank you for reaching out, and I wish you and your family all the

best moving forward.  Take care.

It can be really

difficult when you feel as though you have to walk on eggshells to avoid a

meltdown from your child.  You are not alone in this situation. 

Something that could be helpful at this point is to make sure that your 6 year

old is safe from violence when your older daughter is becoming escalated, as

mentioned in  In

addition, you might take advantage of calm, private moments with your 10 year

old to help her develop more appropriate coping skills.  Sara Bean offers

advice on how to do this in her article,  I recognize

how challenging this must be for you, and I hope you will write back and let us

know how things are going.  Take care.

Kk1980 Thanks for replying will get back in touch and let you know how I'm getting on

It sounds like you are dealing with some very challenging

and violent behaviors from your child, and I’m glad that you are reaching out

for support.  I see that you have used the police, mental health services

and other local resources to help you with your child, and I encourage you to

continue to do so.  I understand your frustration that none of these

services appear to be able to help you fully address your child’s violent

outbursts.  I encourage you to contact your social worker or caseworker

who helped with your Child in Need plan to discuss your concerns, as well as

your options for moving forward.  For additional assistance, you might

consider contacting the

advice line at0808 801 0366.  I recognize how difficult this must be for you right

now, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take


It is understandable you are

concerned about your daughter’s acting out behaviors. It sounds like it has

been very challenging to deal with. When kids are acting out in this way, it is

generally due to a lack of effective problem solving skills, as Sara Bean

points out in her article

Something I would keep in mind is that no one can calm your daughter down but

her. It is best to be coaching her on ways to handle frustrating or stressful

situations when things are calm and going well, and then direct her to use her

new calm down skills when she is becoming agitated. It may also be helpful to

talk to her sister about what she can do to help deescalate conflicts that may

arise between the two of them. If her sister can walk away instead of

continuing to wind her up, that will give your daughter a better opportunity to

use her new skills. We wish you the best as you continue to work through this.

Thank you for writing in.

My 8 yr old daughter just comes across as rude and can't answer a question nicely to myself, grandparents or strangers. I struggle to deal with her anger in public places, if she can't have her own way she gets very angry also has no patience. She is an only child. I really need help on how to handle these situations. Thanks in advance. Su

At 8 years old, it is quite possible that your daughter

doesn’t realize she comes across as rude. Her perception of the world is likely

very different from an adult perspective. If it is the wording she uses, it can

be helpful to coach her on more appropriate responses, in a calm, neutral time.

If it is her tone of voice you are concerned about, the most effective response

is often no response. Don’t focus on the “attitude” she has, as that will only

give the behavior more power. Good behavior is a skill, and you may need to

help your daughter identify more effective ways to solve her problems when she

gets angry or impatient. James Lehman, author of the program, talks more about this in his article, Best wishes to your family and let us know if you have any more

Sime advice would be greatly appreciated.

I have a son with ADHD who just turned 8 this week. Today he was at a school holiday program where he had a huge rage of anger - it was the worst he's ever behaved. Throwing things at other children and staff, he even threw a chair and broke it. I was called to pick him uo. He didnt want to come home so again carried on and was dufficult to get him to leave. I literally had to pick him up and carry him over my shoulder to get him out.

As soon as we got home he burst into tears and cried uncontrollably. He was very tired as he had had 2 very long and busy days prior celebrating his birthday. He does get angry when he's very tired, but today was definitely the worst he has behaved. He was sent to his room as punishment and was told that he had to have a sleep before coming out. What was especially concerning to me is that he started calling out asking me if i even liked him. Then started calling out asking me if i wished he would die, i didn't answer because i didn't want to prolong or encourage his erratic behavior. He asked me again if i wished he would die then said because he can kill himself. It is heartbreaking to hear your 8 year old child say that to you. He has some learning difficulties which affects his self esteem i have recently sought a referral for a psychologist but cannot afford 150 dollars per session as i am a single parent. I have since got a referral to a free psychologist but it can take up to a year on a waiting list to see them. His dad earns excellent money but will not pay for anything that i ask him too. I don't know what else i can do.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.


am sorry to hear about the challenging behavior you are seeing from your son,

and it can certainly be painful to hear your child say such things about

themselves. Sara Bean, Empowering Parents author, has a helpful article titled, , where

she talks about why children act out, and how you can help your son learn more

effective problem solving tools. It can be helpful to have a brief conversation

with your son about what was going on for him just before his outburst at

school, and then help him identify some things he can do to help himself calm

down the next time he gets upset or angry. You might review and practice this

plan often with your son, so he has the tools to make better choices next time.

I also think enlisting local supports as an additional way to support you and

your son, especially if he is making threats of self harm, will be helpful. I

wish you the best of luck as you continue to work on this with your son.

I need help plzz

I have 10 years one daughter she is very lazy in cleaning her room many times she take off her shoes in her room or school bag liying any were in her room or if she does some thing wrong wich she has promise me before she will say sorry to make go away the moument or not to get in any dicipline rule n again after hour or tow she will do same thing and when i will remind her again she will reply me oh sorry i forget or when erver i ask her to clean she will reply me will do it later though i always ask her your need to clean your room and for that how much time do you want bz i know her if i will ask her to do the moument she will not going to do it but afert the time given by her when she did not complete cleaning and i will ask her to clean she will try to do soem playing things or you can say she will try her best to delay as much as she can and after 3- 4 times reminding her by me the. When i say now this is last time i am asking you to clean it or i will take your ipad away then she will starts getting angry and when i will take her ipad way she will loose her control and will starts screaming and shouting soem times she will throw her stuff in her room kick her door comes by me and make faces if i will go away from there to my room she will kick my room door badly she cant bare the things will go against her wish she will continue this behaviour as long as she can will demanding me if you want me to to be normal give my ipad back or i will not going to stop and she silent my phone and hide it away and continued demanding me if you want your phone give me my iPad when ever on any reason i try to take her ipad she always behave badly and after she get tired or calm down and i ask her can we talk now she will reply me i dont want to talk today aslo same thing happend when she gets calm me and my husband was talking to her she said if mommy will ask me to do things poletly i will do it but she dint gave answer how many times do i need to get poletly to her for a given work plz help me to deal with her anger control bz only one thing is it wich bouther het is her ipad otherwise if i will let reminding her for any work she will continue on later

Your situation sounds frustrating, and surprisingly, is

quite common with the parents that we speak with. Trying to address many

behaviors at once can become overwhelming to both you and your daughter. What

might work better is to focus on just one or two behaviors at time. Your

daughter sounds like she is responding in ways that are working for her to

solve whatever problem that is going on for her. The avoiding and screaming are

common faulty problem solving tools kids use to get out of doing tasks they don’t

want to do. Sara Bean, Empowering Parents author, has a great article titled, 

This article is a good place to start in understanding what is going on for

your daughter, and how to start addressing the behaviors. Best of luck to you

as you continue to work on these behaviors with your daughter.

Nasrin1 Thakns a lot

I need help

I have a 16 year old son which is very sensitive most of the time he is angry and jealous of his younger sister 11 years old. We are going through difficult time with him as his jealousy is getting worst everyday. He is disrespectful to all of us and not talking to any one. My husband had lost his control a few time and got physical with him and got things worse. He has no issue at school but not behaving at home please help not sure what to do.

concerned about your son’s behavior. While it is normal for there to be sibling

rivalry between siblings, it is not okay to take out your anger and jealousy on

family members. In her  article, Carole Banks talks about some helpful ways

you can cut down on the sibling rivalry. In addition, Debbie Pincus wrote an

article on effective ways to respond to your son’s anger and disrespect, titled We always recommend

walking away when your son is angry and pushing your buttons. When you stay in

a power struggle it can often lead to a physical altercation, and as you have

found out that does not work. Give yourselves and your son some time to cool

off  before addressing his inappropriate behavior. I know this is not easy

to be dealing with. We appreciate you writing in with your question.


I’m so sorry to hear about the struggles you are

experiencing with your children becoming aggressive toward you, along with the

lack of support from their dad.  The statements that your son is making

are quite concerning, and I am glad that you are reaching out for

support.  I encourage you to take his talk of killing himself

seriously.  Something you might do is to talk with your son’s doctor, or

other local supports, about these statements in order to help you develop a

plan you can follow to keep him safe if he continues to make comments such as

this.  For assistance locating available supports in your community, try

contacting the  211 is a

service which connects people with resources in their local area, and you can

reach them by calling 1-800-273-6222.  Thank you for writing in; take

DelishaJones2010 Im afraid that if my son is already doing this at this age......then what is to come by the time he is 15? Im scared!!!

I have a nine year old who gets upset when things don't go his way or he doesn't get what he wants. He will scream and throw things around the room.He will knock over chairs and kick walls.Sometimes he will push his little brother. Anything can set him off.Yesterday I told him that he couldn't have as much play time before homework. So today when he was done with his snack he ask to go ontge computer and I said its time to work on your project .He started getting upset I ask his nana to turn it off and he said not to but she did .He immediately started screaming and throwing a hamper of clothes across the room.This is something he dies 95%of the time when he can't have his way .Nothing I do works.

In need of help

Dealing with angry child outbursts can be exhausting,

especially when it seems as though your child can be set off by any little

thing. One thing that can be helpful to know is that for most kids, the angry

outbursts are due to poor problem solving skills or poor coping skills. Your

son gets upset and, lacking a more appropriate way of dealing with the

situation, he lashes out by yelling and throwing things. The good news is you

can help him develop better skills by having problem solving conversations with

him during calm times. Sara Bean explains how to have these helpful

conversations in her article I hope

you find the information useful for your situation. Best of luck to you and

your family moving forward. Take care.

Ashley soles

Facing the acting out behavior of an angry 6 year old

certainly can be distressing. It may help to know that the behaviors you

describe aren’t uncommon. Young children lack effective skills for dealing with

situations they find challenging or frustrating. The behaviors you are seeing

are a reflection of that lack of skills. Dr. Joan Simeo Munson offers some

helpful tips for dealing with aggression in her article

Another article you may find useful is You mention your son

has some emotional issues. If you are concerned there may be underlying issues

affecting his behavior, it may be helpful to make an appointment with his

pediatrician. Your son’s doctor would be able to rule out possible underlying

issues and could also determine if further evaluation was necessary. We

appreciate you writing in. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are

going. Take care.

Aloha (Hello),

I have a son who just turned 10 and he has been having difficulty controlling his anger in school. Today it got so bad he was crawling around the floor shouting about the devil and growling at other students and the teacher. This is all per the teacher as when I ask my son he tells a different more toned down story. No matter what happened one thing is certain is that he has a hard time dealing with his anger and his school does not provide him with the help he needs. He only lashes out at school or when playing video games at home, but it should be noted he is able to calm himself at home. I don't know what to do about when he is in school? His counselor is never available and is always "busy with more troubling students," so she is very little help.

Thank you in advance :) oh and I am in the process of finding him a counselor/psychologist here as well.

Baffled Mommy ?

@Baffled Mommy

@It can be tough to know what you can do as a parent when

your child is struggling with behaviors in school. It’s been my experience that

helping your child develop better coping and problem solving skills is usually

the best approach. From what you have shared, it sounds like he does have some

effective tools; he’s just not able to use them when he’s at school. Sitting

down with your son in the evening and talking with him about these situations

will continue to be useful. You also can add a problem solving component to

these conversations that focuses on what he could be doing differently. You

might ask him things like “When you get angry while playing video games, what

do you do to calm yourself down?” or “What’s different about getting angry when

your at school?” For more information on how to have these types of

conversations you can check out the article We

appreciate you writing in. Take care.

It’s understandable you would be worried this behavior could

repeat itself. From what you have written, it sounds like your son has a tough

time dealing with situations that cause him anger and frustration. An effective

approach to this is helping him develop better coping and/or problem solving

skills. Sara Bean explains one way of doing this in her article Another

article that may be useful for your situation is

Best of luck to you and your son as you work through this difficult issue. Be

sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

Shminis DeniseR_ParentalSupport 

Hi Denise, we just returned from another tournament and everything went fine (thank God!). My son didn't win many matches but he displayed a very good sporting spirit and I'm so proud of him. He was courteous to his opponents and wasn't too hard on himself when he lost.

Right after reading the articles you suggested, I decided to find video clips that showed examples of bad sportsmanship. I found many examples from tennis and watched them with my son while explaining the consequences of all those unruly behaviour. He was shocked to see the way world famous tennis players smashed their racquets and displayed violent behaviour on court. I also showed him some clips on good sportsmanship so that he would understand better. I knew that he fully understood what I had explained to him when he would bring up the ugly scenes whenever I talked to him about how anger clouds one's judgement and causes a player to lose focus on the game. By the time we finished, I could see that he had already made up his mind on which kind of sportsman he wanted to be.

Also, during the recent tournament, he watched a few players display their anger violently in court when they lost, and this made him fully realize the repercussions of losing one's temper during a game. Seeing things from a third person's point of view has made him realize that what he did the other day was wrong, and hopefully, it will never happen again.

The learning did not only happen on my son's side. I now know that there is no problem that cannot be solved if I take the initiative to explain things to my son, in a way that he would understand.

Thank you so much for your help!


I hear you. It can be tough to know how to respond in the

face of such destructive behavior. Generally speaking, kids respond this way to

frustrations when they lack appropriate coping skills. As a parent, you can

help your son develop these skills by sitting down with him at a calm time and

problem solving with him ways he could handle his anger and frustration more

appropriately. Sara Bean explains how to have these important conversations in

her article In the

moment when the behavior is happening, you want to follow the tips outlined in

the article above. We appreciate you writing in. Take care.

Mamagou My 8 year old daughter has always had difficult behavior. She is very challenging and quite often has to "learn for herself." It is very difficult to discipline her. Her outbursts are never over anything big but her reactions are huge. Hitting, throwing things, breaking things, screaming More name calling etc. This occurs on a daily basis. We are all at the ends of our rope. When I try to have her go to her room to calm she will not and instead will follow me around continuing the behavior. I have also walked away from her and locked myself in my room to remain calm and remove myself from her. However when I do this she runs around the rest of the house damaging and breaking our belongings. Our hands are tied. Last night my husband sent her in her room for being disrespectful to him and kept making her go back in her room until she stayed in there and she proceeded to kick a hole in her door. We feel like prisoners in our own home and our 8 year old is the warden!

I’m glad you enjoyed the article. You may also find these

articles useful: &

I hope this helps. Take care.

You bring up a great point. Bribing usually isn’t an

effective way of bringing about a change in behavior. It may be more productive

to develop a reward or incentive plan that focuses on the behavior you expect.

Here are a couple of articles you may find helpful: & I hope

this is useful for your situation. Take care.

at the end of my rope 

It can be very

challenging to not only find effective ways to handle troublesome behavior such

as yelling and screaming from your child, but also to reduce the impact of such

behaviors on siblings.  We hear from many parents who are concerned about how

one child’s behavior is influencing other children in the house, so you are not

alone.  Something I often recommend to parents is to talk privately during

a calm time with your other children about coping skills they can use when one

child is yelling, screaming or having an outburst.  We have more

information on this topic in articles such as and  Please

let us know if you have any additional questions; take care.

RomanaIbrahim Lovely article! I typically leave the room when I am angry at someone. But yes, in case of my children, the lose of control really bugs me!!!

We appreciate you writing in and sharing your story. I can

hear your frustration and your concern. It may be helpful to know that it’s not

unusual for a child your son’s age to struggle with situations that cause him

anger and frustration. At 9, he most likely doesn’t have a very high tolerance

for frustration and probably also lacks the skills to effectively cope when he

surpasses that level. Sitting down with him during calm moments and talking

with him about ways he may be able to cope more effectively could be quite

helpful. Sara Bean explains how to have these conversations in her article With

that said, it is going to be important to take any threats of self harm seriously by

talking with his pediatrician or consulting with a counselor or therapist about the statements

your son is making. The best of luck to you and your family moving forward.

C There was a lot of helpful information in there about what NOT to do, BUT no real suggestions about what to do instead.

bluzrobin Juhi Bajpai I have that going on too, with my 8 yr old grand daughter. She gets mad refuses to do any work , mad at the world so to speak. So do I just let her go to her room until she feels like talking again, and try to More discuss w h at happened?

It’s not uncommon

for young kids to act out aggressively when they become angry.  This is

due to the fact that they tend to have a low frustration tolerance, and few

coping skills to use when they become upset.  If you are concerned that

your son’s diagnoses might be contributing to his behavior, I encourage you to

check in with his doctor.  S/he would be able to assess whether any

underlying issues might be a factor in your son’s behavior, and could also advise

you on how to respond when he acts out.  You might also find some helpful

coping strategies to use with him in  Thank you for

writing in; take care.

Thank you for this article. 

I knew some of the "technics" you talk about. "Staying calm", "don't get physical" are rules I try to apply (also difficultly at times) but learning why those rules must be obeyed and what alternatives are available is reassuring and makes me more confident on my ability to manage the next crisis.

My 16 yr old daughter keeps having a go at me. today telling me how I should be doing things with her younger siblings and has no respect for me. She complains when I won't give her money and how I should spend mine she tells me I don't listen to her at times but when she is shouting at me I try to remain calm and tell her not to speak to me like it and she just says don't speak to her like it even though I haven't and tells me to shut up" that has even been times she has told me to f... off I feel I am at my wits end and not coping as a parent cause she makes me feel like a bad one and then I don't know what to say or do. Then she will come home and act like nothing has happened. Please help


It can be difficult to figure out how to best respond to a

critical, complaining teen.  I speak with many parents in similar

situations, so you are not alone!  Something that can be helpful is to

continue doing as you describe, which is staying calm and doing your best to

stay out of arguments with her.  An additional step will be to set limits

with her during the calm times about how she can behave respectfully toward

you, even if she doesn’t agree with the choices you make.  Debbie Pincus

offers more suggestions in her article  Please let us

know if you have additional questions; take care.

What a distressing situation! We strongly advise parents to

take any sort of suicidal threats or behavior seriously. When your son

threatens to harm himself or makes attempts to hurt himself, it’s going to be very

important to take him to your nearest emergency medical department

to have him evaluated. If that isn’t feasible, you could also contact your

local crisis response or your local police department to help you manage this

very worrisome situation. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention

Lifeline for more information on how to best address your son’s behavior. You

can reach the Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255. We appreciate you reaching

out for help with this troubling situation. Good luck to you and your family

moving forward. Take care.

Madmumof3 I feel like this with my 9 year old son, very similar in lots of ways, I worry about my 3 year old son as I feel he is absorbing it all and is starting to copy, my 13 year old daughter if finally in some ways improving from this More behaviour only to be heading into hormonal hell! I am so frazzled it's worrying! X

3girls This sounds just like my almost 9 year old daughter.

You bring up a very important point – kids with an

 ADD/ADHD diagnosis are behind their same aged peers in social/emotional

development, as Dr. Robert Myers explains in the article ADHD and Young Children: Unlocking the Secrets to Good Behavior . This is something that needs to be taken into

consideration, especially when implementing consequences and helping him

develop better The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems” . One of the most

important aspects of effective parenting is consistency – you want to be sure

you are responding the same way to behaviors as often as possible by calmly

setting the limit and then walking away, taking other siblings with you if

necessary. You could even teach

his sisters how to disconnect and walk away when he is taunting or teasing

them. Allow him some space to calm down before going back and talking with him

about his behavior. You can also implement a reward system that

focuses on him responding appropriately when he gets upset or frustrated. We

have several different behavior charts you can check out in the article Free Downloadables! Child Behavior Charts: How to Use Them Effectively . I hope this information is

helpful. Be sure to check back if you have any further questions. Take care.

DeniseR_ParentalSupport CCMom 

Hi Denise, thank you for the reply. I am definitely going to use the reward chart and I think it's a good idea with one of his sisters as well as her hormones are stepping in :)

We tend to do things consistently but the biting and physical attacks we do not tolerate; and everything we've tried has been a dismal failure? Do you also have some advice / links towards working with the immaturity. He's getting to that age where his friends notices the immature behaviour and I am afraid they are going to start ignoring him?

CCMom DeniseR_ParentalSupport

I can understand your concern. It can be tough when it

appears as though your child is lagging behind his peers in terms of social and

emotional development. It’s actually a pretty common issue for kids with an

ADD/ADHD diagnosis.  Truthfully each child has his/her own developmental

timeline. And, while you may not be able to push it along, you can aid in this

development by consistently holding him accountable for his behavior by using

either rewards (as mentioned above) or task oriented consequences. It’s also

going to be very important to have problem solving conversations with him

whenever he acts out. Sara Bean explains how to have these important

conversations in her article The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems” .

I hope this information is useful. Be sure to check back and let us know how

things are going. Good luck to you and your family moving forward.

It is not uncommon for young

children to lack the coping skills to manage their frustration or angry

appropriately. Many children your grandson’s age have low tolerance for

frustration and often act out against family members when they’re not sure what

else to do. When things are calm it can be helpful to follow up and set limits

on the inappropriate behaviors. Then, you can discuss with your grandson what

he can do differently the next time he gets angry instead of becoming

destructive or physical. James Lehman explains this further in his article

Ahayes3902 I'm dealing with a grandchild that has been severely abused. His anger is a violent anger for a three year old. I have to stay close for his safety any suggestions other than therapeutic hugs which are getting me hurt.

All sound advice - but oftentimes our problems arise from "angry child outbursts" when we are operating under time pressures. Like this morning, our oldest daughter (aged 9) was having an emotional breakdown, but we didn't have 10 - 15 minutes to send her to her room for "calming" time before the bus came. We insisted she do so, but that only escalated the situation because she wanted to take the bus. She stayed in her room but only fumed and screamed down the steps that she missed the bus. We waited for her to calm down, but then she only got angrier because she was going to be late for school. By the time she calmed down, she was indeed late for school which seemed to shatter her confidence for the day.

We have 3 daughters, 9, 7, and 3. And these outburst issues always seem to have the biggest family impact when we don't have time for de-escalation. We are busy taking all 3 to one daughter's soccer practice, the others violin lesson, playdates, etc. If we took the time out to give the daughter undergoing the outburst, the other(s) would miss their activities that are important to them -- which isn't fair all around?!

Signed, Dazed and Confused.

@Dazed and Confused 

I speak with many families

who describe similar situations with a child escalating when everyone is

operating under a deadline and trying to get out of the door to make it to

school, work, sports practice, music lessons or other activities on time. 

Sometimes, as you noted this morning, trying to enforce a calm-down period can

actually escalate a situation.  While it is important for your child to

calm down, it’s helpful to keep in mind that different strategies can be useful

depending on the situation.  For example, while having your daughter go to

her room for 15 minutes to calm down might be helpful if you are planning to

stay home, it might not work when you are trying to make it out the door by a

certain time.  You might consider

with each of your daughters about some quick methods they can use to calm

themselves down in those moments.  You could also have a conversation

about what they can do to avoid the escalation altogether the next time a

similar situation arises.  I appreciate your reaching out to us for

support, and I hope you will continue to let us know how things are going for

you and your family.  Take care.

Nikki I have a 13 year old son who is a great kid but has some anger issues. When he was younger he would throw horrible tantrums. I had issues when I was younger and think maybe there is some correlation. My son is now in junior high and there seem More to be certain kids that just know how and when to push his buttons. It is so easy to say just ignore them or let it roll off your back but it really isn't. I am kind of at a loss of where to go from here. He is a good student and is good at home. He is active with sports and friends but when someone pushes his buttons (friends, family, or anyone) he blows up. He throws things, yells, cries. I want to tell him it is ok and just hug him but need him to learn how to deal with these feelings.

Tracey I have a 16 year old son who has been home schooled for the last 2 years, his behaviour had been unmanageable during his time at school but after time away he  made improvements. Lately he has been refusing to get up and staying in bed most of the day, More appointments have had to be cancelled because he refuses to get up and now he is blaming me and just tells me where to go in no uncertain terms followed usually by calling me a b@#$h. I walk away but its affecting my health and its so in your face and abusive it just dissolves me into tears, I feel anxious all the time if we have anything planned. This is the behaviour of 2 years or more ago and I don't know why we are back there again. he knows it is unacceptable to talk to anyone this way, his dad and I are together and we live in a happy home so its hard to understand. Do you have any advice on how to move forward, its hard talking to a teenage lump wrapped in  his duvet laying on his bed all day just saying f**k off every time you walk in?

Dealing with anger in your child can be tough.  It

sounds like you have been trying your best to address her behavior, and I’m

glad that you are reaching out for support.  Something that I often talk

about with parents is that kids will frequently act out in inappropriate ways

because they lack  Thus, your daughter might be trying to “solve

the problem” of feeling angry by becoming aggressive toward her brother, and

not listening to your husband.  It could be useful to have a conversation

with her about how she can manage her anger in a more appropriate way. 

Dr. Joan Simeo Munson gives some additional suggestions in her article

 Please let us know if you have additional questions; take care.

My son (9)  has anger outbursts over the most minor issues. This morning he was set off by his sister parking her bike where he was intending to park his. He started fuming, pushing, using poor language and being disrespectful. I calmly asked him to calm down and that set him off. He spit in my direction, put his fists up and told me that I was the cause of all of his problems. He started crying/ screaming on how I mistreated him. This was in front of school and I told him that he couldn't go in to school until he composed himself a little. He finally did after more than 30 min of standing there (the majority of time he was being disrespectful towards me). 

Once he calmed down I asked him whether his response was warranted and explained that nobody was doing anything to upset him and explained that there are other ways to deal with issues like this. 

I am not sure what to do with his behavior. He is extremely anxious at all times- he bites/ rips his nails, shakes when things don't go his way and is just on edge. Little things make him explode. He has not had issues at school and has good grades, but is extremely unorganized and scatter brained. He is an overachiever and is very hard on himself.

I try to keep my composure, but my husband is a military man and has no tolerance. 

Please help

I am sorry your morning was so

rough. It sounds like you handled it the best you could given the

circumstances. You were able to stay calm and direct him to calm down. That is

the priority in the moment when his behavior is escalated. It took some time,

but he calmed down. While at school, you can let him know you would like to

follow up with him at home and direct him to go to class. At home, once he is

calm you can follow up anytime. A follow up conversation about how he chose to

behave  and what he will do differently next time, is necessary to help

change the behavior. Come up with a plan, like taking deep breaths or counting

to a high number when he is angry or frustrated. Reinforce him using the new

skills by offering a reward system. If you feel his anxious behaviors are

concerning, I would also check in with his doctor. Thank you for writing in.

kerihussey I will try that thank you

1brendonobrien Instead of power struggling with your little one try saying let's start over. It works for me.I have a son with aspbergers and the more you fight them the. More they will fight back.Also give your child a quiet place to cool not power struggle

It can be hard to know what to do when your child reacts

violently to directions and limits. It’s not uncommon for a child to throw

things when he gets angry or frustrated. The key point to keep in mind is that

this sort of behavior is a reflection of poor coping skills. It’s OK that your

son is upset; what isn’t OK is how he choosing to deal with it. The above

article offers some tips for ways you can address the behavior. Another article

you may find helpful is Is Your Defiant Child Damaging or Destroying Your Home? . Spanking isn’t going

to be an effective way of disciplining your son. You do want to hold him

accountable for his behavior, however. One thing you might consider doing is

having your son make an amends when he breaks something. This could be extra

chores, using allowance or other money to replace what he breaks, or doing

another activity with the goal of making it up to you. I hope this information

is helpful. Be sure to check back if you have any further questions. Take care.

This reading is very useful, but we reached a point where we don't know how to do.

Our son is 5 years old, it's been a month that he has angry bursts, for very small things "sit correctly in front, you will fall back"  "no, we don't get another ice cream"  "it's time to go home from the park"

It got more and more. 

We tried to read everything, everywhere, to see how to calm him, but it's not working.

Talking with him, when he is calm: he feels sorry, he apologies, but he cannot explain. "it's because I don't love you."  or "it's because you shout at me".

Last night, it was the top of the crisis. He could not calm down. We, parents could not calm down.

My wife is spending her days, at work, then taking care of our home, of our son. She prepares everything at best, for him. Then she gets only anger and crisis.

It is really tough.

Our son is making crisis only with us, at home.

He is fine at school, until now.

This morning, we are waking up, in tears. I feel so sick, so nauseous.

He is calm, sleeping near us. He will wake up, not realizing much of what happened last night.

Until the next burst.

We try to get help, but it's not easy to find.

Should it be a therapy, to learn? Should it be a psychologist?

We are lost, right now.

Thanks for your help.

It can be tough to know what to do when you have a child who

seems to get angry over seemingly small issues. One thing that can be helpful

to keep in mind is that 5 year olds tend to have low tolerance for frustration

and limited skills for dealing with it. So, while the issues he gets upset

about may seem minor to an adult, it’s probably not the same from his

perspective. You may find it helpful to sit down with your son during a calm

time to talk about ways he can handle his frustration more effectively. These types of

problem solving conversations can help your son as he’s developing those

necessary coping skills. For more information on how to have a problem solving

conversation, you can check out this article: The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems” .

I hope this is helpful. Good luck to you and your family moving forward. Take

My seven-year-old son gets angry at the drop of a hat.  He could be having a perfectly good morning, and then either I'll ask him to do something (cleaning up a mess or completing a chore), or he will ask for something (candy, tv, time on his DS), and get an undesirable answer.  He will set his jaw, twist and pull on his fingers, hard, scratch at his forearms (no serious marks, yet), start making noises, kind of like he's cussing and screaming with his teeth gritted.  I usually ask him to take some deep breaths, and he adds panting to the list, at which point I usually tell him to finish his fit in his room.  Up he stomps, slam goes the door, and I can hear things being thrown around while he continues his weird noises.  Lately it has escalated to kicking and screaming and wriggling around on the floor.  

Luckily his current choices in projectiles are soft toys and pillows, but I have caught myself tip toeing around in an effort not to set him off.  I am feeling like a lousy mother and a failure at my most important job.  There are times he can be so amazing and eager to help, and then bam!  A switch goes off.  His reactions are so unpredictable I never know what to expect.

What can I do to help him cope with those undesirable answers and requests?  And should I worry about something more?

I hear you. It can be easy to fall into the habit of trying

to avoid triggering a child in an attempt to control meltdowns. While this may

work short term, doing so actually reinforces the behavior you are trying to

diminish. It can be helpful to know that it’s not unusual for a child this age

to have difficulty with handling frustrations such as being asked to do

something or being told no. He hasn’t yet developed a tolerance for frustration

nor the necessary skills for coping with upsetting situations. What is going to

be helpful is continuing to set the limit as you have been when he gets upset.

It’s also going to be helpful to sit down with him at a calm time and talk with

him about ways he can calm himself down. Deep breathing is one possibility; you

might show him how and practice with him when he’s calm. A reward system might

also be effective. One way of implementing a reward system is to have him earn

a check mark or sticker each time he utilizes a coping skill instead of having

a tantrum. Once he

earns a few checkmarks, he can then earn a reward. Here are a couple articles

you can check out for additional information on these techniques:   How to Handle Temper Tantrums: Coaching Kids to Calm Down & Free Downloadables! Child Behavior Charts: How to Use Them Effectively . I hope

this is helpful. Be sure to check back if you have any further questions. Take

My daughter is 8, going to be 9 in January. She has what my husband and I have to call 'episodes' almost daily. Anything can set her off, she had to come in for dinner when all she wanted was to keep playing. I didn't react to her sister (who's 9, 10 in January) being mean (according to her standards) in a way she thought was appropriate. She has been physical with all if us at one time or another, which only results up in us having to become physical back to prevent her from further hurting us or removing her from the immediate area.

She says she feel ignored and like everyone's mean to her. I feel like she's so verbally abusive to everyone in the house, that we've reached a place where we're all angry now. I feel like she's holding us hostage at times, we try to "cushion" her day in order to avoid outbursts, even though they usually still happen. I have 3 kids, including her, and my husband and I are so tired. We have no idea what to do, who to turn to for fear that we will be looked at as though we are the ones wrong. Please help, at this this point I feel like our efforts are getting less and less effective.

More than a few parents have shared with me the anxiety they

feel around reaching out for help. There’s uncertainty around where to look and

a fear of being judged. The 211 Helpline, a national health and human services

referral service, would be able to give you information on community resources

should you decide that would be helpful. The Helpline can be reached by calling

1-800-273-6222. You can also find them online at

 It is possible as well to begin addressing the behavior at home. The

above articles gives some great tips you can try.  Truthfully speaking,

trying to manage her surroundings so she doesn’t get set off may work short-term, it’s not going to be an effective long-term solution. It would be helpful to sit down

with her during a calm time and talk about things she could do differently the

next time she gets upset. Sara Bean gives a great explanation of this type of

problem-solving conversation in her article The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems” .

In the moment when she is starting to melt down,  you can coach her to

calm down by suggesting she try one of the coping skills you had previously

discussed. You then want to disconnect from her and walk away. Continuing to

stay in the interaction is only giving her acting out behavior more attention

and more power than it deserves. I hope this is useful for your situation. Be

sure to check back if you have any further questions. Take care.


I am sorry to hear you are facing these challenges. It can

be tough when your sibling treats your parent in such a disrespectful way. It’s

normal to want to stand up for someone you love. I can hear how much you want

to help your sister but are unsure of what steps to take. While we’re not able

to offer you any specific suggestions, there is a website available that may be

able to offer you support and direction. Your Life Your Voice is a website

aimed at helping teens and young adults deal with challenges they may be facing

in their lives. They offer many different ways of getting support, such as

e-mail, text, online chat, and a call in line. These services are staffed with

specially trained counselors who are able to help you work through difficult

problems. You can find them online at

You could also try calling them at 1-800-448-3000. Good luck to you and your

family moving forward. Take care.

You ask a great question and one

that we hear often. It is difficult to be “in the moment” and wait out the

acting out behaviors until things are calm. It is going to be important to have

a plan for yourself and your other son. Do the best you can to safely leave the

situation, for instance, go in another room or outside to get some fresh air.

If you are not able to physically leave, do the best you can to stay calm and

not react to the behavior. Even if your son is throwing things you want to do

your best to not react to it. If you have a reaction, that is giving the

behavior power and attention and that will actually reinforce the negative

behaviors. When things are calm is when you can address the behavior and let

him know it is not ok and he needs to work on handling his frustration

differently. In a calm time, talking through what he can do differently is

necessary to create behavior changes. I know it’s a tough behavior to deal

with. Hang in there and let us know how things are going. Take care.

Lost and concerned  

I can tell from your question how much you love and care for

your daughter, and your concern for what your relationship might look like in

the future if your interactions do not change.  You are not alone in the

issues you face with your daughter, and I appreciate your writing in for

support.  It is normal to feel overwhelmed by parenting, and the strong

emotions it can evoke in us.  One thing we suggest to a lot of parents is

to at a time, in order to not feel quite so overwhelmed. 

It sounds like you are noticing that you have “meltdowns” when your daughter

starts to experience her own strong emotions.  This could be a good place

to start, as you have ultimate control over your own responses and actions. 

Debbie Pincus outlines some strategies to help yourself calm down in her

article  As noted

in this article, it’s important to focus on taking care of yourself and your

stresses, so you can role-model to your daughter how to handle strong emotions

appropriately. Sometimes, working directly with local, in-person

supports can be useful to learning new coping skills.  If this is

something you feel could be beneficial to you, try contacting your local or the to see what is available in your community.  I recognize what

a challenging situation this is for you, and I hope that you will write back

and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.

I need some advice please! My 12 year old son was supposed to be at tennis camp today - but his friend had pulled out- so he refused to go! Door slamming, chairs  turned over, tantrums , swearing etc . I'd already read your advice re staying calm etc but unless I physically dragged him out of his room, eventually, I had to leave him as I had to get to work. So.. he still got his way!

I said that I could understand why he was disappointed his friend had pulled out, but that he had to go and we would talk later when he'd calmed down but there would be consequences of his actions. I've taken his i-pad, mobile phone & keys to garage to stop him going out on his bike.

I'm at a loss as to what to do or say - he now knows especially where there is a time constraint ie me getting to work, that he just has to act up & he wins.

Any advice would be really appreciated


What a tough situation. Your nephew is lucky to have you to

care for him. I can understand why you would be concerned about his behavior.

It’s distressing when a child acts out and threatens harm to another, even if

he is only 4 years old. It sounds like your nephew has had to deal with a lot

of transitions for his young age. He probably lacks effective coping skills for

dealing with all of the changes he has endured. Where social services is

involved, we are limited in the coaching we are able to offer. We would not

want to suggest something that might run counter to any arrangement in place

with the case manager. I would encourage you to reach out to the Social

Services worker who is in charge of your nephew’s case and make him/her aware

of what is happening. Ask as well if there are any suggestions that could be

made to help make these visits run a little smoother. If counseling is a

possibility, that may also be helpful as your nephew does seem to be having a

hard time dealing with the changes that have happened in his life. We appreciate

you writing in.  Your nephew is lucky to have you to care for him. I hope

you will check back to let us know how things are going. Take care.

lattiee I am a single mom of a almost 11 year old boy  and he has explosive outbursts and it's over little things  . Which I do think I do end up doing the consequence stacking, freezing as if I don't hear and just walk away without doing anything, I do More think I do negotiate with him too  but more likely I think it's the consequence stacking and the freezing  because I don't know what to do as I tried to get family help  but I got no ride to do family  classes as that helped him better.  I had a brother beating the crap out of me and all my mom would do is run away and hide in her bedroom with door shot or I would be the one who got the punishment as in being swatted with a wooden spoon or taken to the shower which my mom would turn on the shower and hold  my head into the shower  saying this is what I get for out of control behavior and I wasn't the one doing anything except trying to stop my brother from attacking me . I never got a proper training at how to deal with emotions as even counselors would go hit pillows if you get angry. So now I have this son is who has wild violent behavior that damages the apartment building   because he throws things, even during a throwing fit he turned on one stove burner he cold had burnt the place down and it's like I run in fear from him Everytime he's like that and it's like he forgets  that he is like that and I try to talk to him about that but it's like he just ignores me so I don't know .

Thank you for

writing in.  This mom is fortunate to have a mentor who is willing and

eager to help her to become a more effective parent to her daughter. 

Because we typically coach parents directly on a situation with their child, I

am a bit limited on how thoroughly I am able to answer your question.  Our


might be a good resource to share with her.  It could also be helpful to

look into local resources who could work directly with this mom and her

daughter on their interactions.  For information about supports available

in your community, try calling the

at 1-800-273-6222.  I appreciate you reaching out and using us as a

resource for this young parent.  I wish all of you the best as you

continue to move forward.

Jill626 My daughter is 8 and we have been struggling a lot since this school year began. Her father had a violent outburst in front of her and was not allowed to see her for a year and a half. Since he has reentered her life a year ago her behavior More has gone down hill. My boyfriend lives with us and has for almost 3 years now. When my daughters father was unable to see her my boyfriend really stepped up to the plate and filled that role for her. Once her father was allowed to see her again he took a step back and even encouraged me to allow a relationship between the two. We went back and forth to court and in the end the judge sided with her father and gave him his full visitation back. My daughter has always been the type that if you rush her she doesn't handle things well. I was pushing for supervised visits so that she could get to know him again and be comfortable with him. Unfortunately that did not happen and things started to really go south. This school year has been very rough and I'm at a loss. The way my daughter treats all of the adults in her life with the exception of her father because she is scared of him is unacceptable. She refuses to do her school work, has outbursts of silly "crazy" behavior and because of these things has to go to summer school. I have had my daughter in counseling since she was about 4 years old which her father did not approve of and still doesn't which makes it difficult because he makes it known to my daughter that he does not approve. He talks down about my boyfriend to my daughter and has put her in a situation where she doesn't know what to do because she doesn't want to make daddy mad but my boyfriend is such a big part of her life. Her attitude towards my boyfriend has become horrendous. I just don't know what to do anymore. We are starting a medication to see if it helps any but I'm not sure that its going to and if it does I'm sure her father won't agree and will refuse to give it to her. My daughter has seasonal allergies and is allergic to cats and dogs, when I ask her father to give her allergy medicine while she is with him even if I provide it he rolls his eyes. He doesn't believe that she has allergies because he doesn't. I just don't know what to do anymore. I want my house to be a happy place not a war zone.

my daughter keeps baiting me, its very hard to walk away, as do my 2 sons, she wants to leave our home, so trying to set boundaries for my sons is very hard, as they see my daughter not listening/obeying them. to walk away is very hard especially in my hse, I think why should I, I didn't start it etc.

the boys do/say something I say I will take 10p off their pocket money, its ok at the moment, but they will just say do eventually.

We speak with many parents who are seeking advice and

information in order to create a more peaceful home, so you are not

alone.  It can be tough when your kids are constantly arguing with you,

and accusing you of wrongdoing, even when you have not done anything

inappropriate.  Something to keep in mind is that if your daughters recognize

that certain topics, it can increase the likelihood that they will continue to

bring them up as a way to gain a sense of power and control.  It’s also

not uncommon for teens to want to have more authority, and to try to assert

that in inappropriate ways.  It’s an effective tool for parents to around appropriate, acceptable behavior, as well as what is

and is not negotiable.  It’s important to set these boundaries, regardless

of whether their father is influencing their behavior or not.  Ultimately,

they are responsible for their own behavior and actions, regardless of who or

what might be prompting them.  I understand how challenging this situation

is for you, and I hope that you will continue to write back and let us know how

things are going for you and your family.  Take care.

Jolin A custodial parent can spend child support on almost anything. No

federal law includes any rules for this, and most state laws don’t

address it either. Non-custodial parents may want reassurance that their

child support payments are going toward their children’s needs, but the

law is not set up to provide such reassurance. It would be almost

impossible for the custodial parent to account for every nickel spent.

Technically, child support is supposed to cover housing, food, and

clothing, but the costs of raising a child usually involve more than

just these basic needs. There are expenses for school and after-school

activities and for toys. Older teenagers might have car costs, such as

auto insurance or gasoline. Most child support payments easily cover a child’s share of the

household’s basic expenses, with some money left over. A custodial

parent can reasonably spend that money on the extras.

The idea behind child support is that the children of divorced or

separated parents should live as comfortably as they would have if their

parents had stayed together. Most states calculate child support by

adding together both parents’ incomes, then setting aside a percentage

of the total for their children’s needs.

The law assumes that the custodial parent is paying for housing,

food, and clothing directly by making the mortgage or rent payments and

buying groceries and clothes. The non-custodial parent contributes to

these expenses by making a cash payment.

Children also need healthcare and medical insurance, and child care

is often necessary so the custodial parent can work. After calculating

basic child support, the court adds a percentage of any additional costs

to this basic child support amount. This yields the amount that the

non-custodial parent’s contributes.

Some states will also add on unusual extracurricular or educational

costs, such as an extra amount for a child to attend a private school

for gifted children.

Because custodial parents don’t have to submit an accounting to the

court for their child support spending, it’s possible that a parent

could spend the money – or at least some of it – on the parent’s

personal needs. If a non-custodial parent suspects this is happening, he

or she can notify the court, but probably won’t get much of a response

unless the child’s needs are actually being ignored or neglected. Some

states will order parents to mediation to try to work the problem out,

but judges will rarely do much more than that.

You are not answerable to anyone.

I feel like they just pressurize you to get what they want.

Talk about child support its your weak area that's where they corner you.

Understand they are teenagers, Ignore that's what teenagers do.

Keep loving them they'll get back to you.

Deb K AudreyOshea 

Thanks for writing in! It is very common for younger

children to use what they have in their ‘toolbox’ to solve whatever problem is

going on for them. At 4 years old, hitting can be a very common response when something

isn’t going their way. It’s great to hear that you are using the time in his

room as a time to let him calm down, and it sounds as though he is able to do

that rather quickly. It’s also great that you are having a conversation with

him after the fact, and we would encourage using that time to help him come up

with some other ‘tools’, or alternatives to hitting when he doesn’t like a

situation. You might have him draw some pictures of things that he can do when

he is upset, instead of hitting, like hugging a stuffed animal or reading a

book. If he is an active child, you might have him try some jumping jacks or

running in place. As I am sure you can guess, just having him come up with

ideas doesn’t mean he will use them, so in order to encourage him to try these

alternatives, you might do some role playing with him, or even offer a small

reward or incentive if you see him use his ideas the next time he gets upset. Best

of luck as you continue to work on helping your son build his problem-solving

ciscoguest My son is 13 and also suffers from ADHD and ODD. I've been dealing with anger and violent out burst for as long as I can remember. Just last night he got mad cause I told him he will lose the Xbox if he continued and he went and punched More holes in many walls and demolishing one entire wall. With medicine it had gotten better and I finally felt like things would be OK. Since I'm learning not so much. Either he's use to the medicine or its not enough anymore cause he was medicated. There is a huge difference between being medicated to not. Its very emotional living with this. I'm considering taking my son for karate or boxing that a medical friend said would be a great way for my son to re channel his anger and frustrations just hope he won't use it on me. I too am constantly reading and trying to find things to do to help this situation. Many things work but only for so long. The sad part is I can't even call the police and have him removed when he's violent because I did once and the place they took him was worse for him. He learned stuff that was really bad from others with deeper issues. The police looked at us like we were the bad guy and took my son and didn't even communicate to me where they were taking him until hours later. There's not proper resources for what we need. Stay strong

Kavitaa gupta

You ask a question we hear often from parents, so, you’re not alone in your

uncertainty. There can be great variation in how each of those diagnoses

presents in behavior. It would be beneficial to work closely with your son’s

treatment team around what the best approach will be for any behaviors he may

be exhibiting. We also have many articles on Empowering Parents that outline

which tools and techniques may be effective for any behaviors you may be

seeing. All of our archived articles are listed by the specific behavior or

problem that is discussed. You can find a list of those topics here: Also, we are available to answer any questions you may

have regarding specific behaviors your son is exhibiting. Feel free to check

back any time with any questions you may have. We appreciate you writing in.

Marusia THanks for the tips. My 8 year old is having outbursts in school and when confronting him at home he reacts as well.

It can be difficult to get a child to accept

responsibilities for his actions. One thing you can do as a parent is to

consistently hold your child accountable when he breaks the rules or doesn’t meet the expectations you

have for his behavior. We find utilizing task oriented consequences to be

beneficial, as Megan Devine discusses in her article . Another important aspect

of helping a child learn more appropriate behaviors is problem solving. The

reason most kids act out is because they lack the skills to deal with

challenging situations effectively. Some kids learn how to make better choices

by cause and effect, for example, a child learns not to touch a hot stove

because he gets burned when he touches it or a child fails a test when he

doesn’t spend enough time studying. For these kids, experiencing the natural

consequence may be enough to motivate them to make a different choice the next

time they are faced with a similar situation. Other kids may need a more formal

approach to skills development such as having a problem solving conversation

after he has acted out or made a mistake. For more information on helping your child

develop better problem solving skills, you may find this article by Sara Bean

useful: The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems” .

We appreciate you writing in. Take care.

It can be tough to know how to help your child handle

situations when you’re not their to guide or direct him. Truthfully, it’s not

uncommon for younger kids to use aggressive behaviors as a way to handle

situations they find frustrating or upsetting. At 7, he’s going to have a low

tolerance for frustration and limited skills for dealing with the frustration

he has. So, he tries to cope with his feelings of frustration by lashing out.

You can help him develop those skills by with him ways he can deal with his anger/frustration more

appropriately. Another thing you might consider doing is implementing a reward

chart or incentive plan that is focused on him behaving appropriately in

school. It could utilize a daily incentive, such as extra time on the computer

or outside playing with friends, or be more long term, with him earning a check mark each day he

behaves appropriately in school. Once he earns a certain number of checkmarks,

he would then earn the reward. For more information on age appropriate rewards,

you may want to check out this article by Rebecca Wolfenden - “Which Consequence Should I Give My Child or Teen?” How to Create a List of Consequences and Rewards for Children . From what you have described, it sounds like your son is already

given consequences for his behavior at school. It’s probably going to be more

effective to continue letting the school give your son consequences for

behavior that happens in school while you focus on the rewards aspect at home.

I hope this information is useful for your situation. Be sure to check back if

you have any further questions. Take care.

I have a 15 year old grandson who has anger outbursts, threatens self harm and harming others, refuses to go to school or do house chores. He also has an eating disorder and very overweight. Recently my daughter seperated from his stepfather due to domestic violence. He has gone to 1 visit to Headspace which is a counselling place for teenagers. It has not appeared to make any impact. I know he needs many more visits. My daughter has 3 other children 12 years, 7 years and 4 years. This has caused a lot of anxiety for my daughter with my grandson acting out and affects the whole family. I guess we are looking for coping strategies.


I can hear how concerned you are for your grandson and his

family. One child’s behavior can cause unseen trauma and  have a lasting

impact on the family as a whole. Developing a safety plan , as James Lehman

suggests in his article   The Lost Children: When Behavior Problems Traumatize Siblings , would be of

benefit. Continuing to work with the counselor at Headspace is also a good

idea, as s/he would be able to work with your grandson and daughter directly.

It is going to take more than one session to see if counseling will have a

positive impact on your grandson’s behavior. In the meantime, finding ways of

responding to his acting out behavior that don’t inadvertently give it power

could also be helpful. For example, having his siblings leave the room when he

starts to escalate will help by removing the audience. We would also recommend

contacting your local crisis response whenever he makes statements about

harming himself or others. The 211 Helpline would be able to give you

information on crisis response in your area. You can reach the Helpline 24

hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222. You can also visit them online at An important point regarding the tools

and techniques you may find on Empowering Parents is that they are not designed

for addressing food related issues. It is going to be best to work with a

professional who is specifically trained in eating disorders. I hope this helps

to give you some ideas on steps you and your daughter can take for managing your

grandson’s behaviors. Please keep in touch and let us know how things are

going. We wish you the best of luck.

I need help with my 7 year old son. He is smart and bright and funny and amazing. Here is the situation:

A little over a year ago his dad and I broke up. Dad has a new female in his life pretty much right after we split (same week actually but the kids met her after we told them we split). We had a house near their school (he has an older sister who is 9)

We broke up January 2014. I moved out in august 2014. House was sold same month. Dad moved into a bigger house in October 2014. Dad new person has a daughter my son's age. Dad is now selling his house after only 6 months.

He would pee and poop in his pants a lot at the new school that seems to have stopped. He occasionally poops in pants with me, not sure about dad's place.

He is in grade 1 and has already been suspended twice and had a half day suspension. All because of violent outbursts. Running after a kid with scissors, throwing objects etc. I am at wits end and not sure what to do. I feel like a bad mother sometimes I am in tears. My ex seems to be perfect as the kids listen to him. They tell me he yells a lot. My ex also blames me when my son goes to his place after being with me and had tantrums at school.

Please help!!

frustrated mama

Changes in a child’s life, such as his parents’ divorce or

moving to a new house or school, can have a negative impact on behaviors. So,

it’s not surprising your son’s behaviors would take a turn for the worse. I

think it’s important to remember there is a distinction between “expected” and

 “ok”, and, while the changes your son has experienced should be taken

into consideration, they shouldn’t be considered an excuse for his behavior.

Keep in mind also that you have not caused your son’s behavior, either. At 7,

your son most likely lacks the skills to deal with these changes in a way that

is appropriate, so, he acts out in an attempt to cope with a difficult

situation. You can help him with this by problem solving with him about ways he

can deal with his anger and frustration more appropriately, as described in the

article The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems” .

You might also consider utilizing an focused on him behaving appropriately at school. For example, you may

set it up so he can earn extra TV time or video game time by not acting out in

school. We wouldn’t recommend using the tools and techniques discussed in the

article or on Empowering Parents to address his soiling incidents. That is something

usually best addressed with the help of your child’s pediatrician or primary

care provider. I hope this information is useful for your situation. Be sure to

check back if you have any other questions. Take care.

I'm a single mom. Has been raising my 3 yr old daughter basically on my own since pregnancy. We used to spend a few days a week at her dads up till last yr. He left us for someone with no kids. Once in a blue moon our daughter spends a day with him and his new love and she is getting rather difficult to deal with. I work almost everyday and whenever I'm home with her she poops in her underwear and throws tantrums everytime she doesn't get her way. If we go to the store and I don't buy her whatever she wants, if I don't put the clothes she chooses on her, if I don't let her do what she wants or tell her we can do whatever activity she chooses after I'm done with whatever I doing at the moment she starts screaming and stomping her feet and dropping herself to the floor. She throws tantrums at church if I don't let her climb the benches or walk around in the isle. She misbehaves at the clinic almost everywhere when she's with me. She's a saint when she's with my parents and with her dad or with whoever shes with for the day. She wont listen of o ask her to sit down or to stop with whatever wrongful thing she's engaged in. I'm a young mom and she's my only and I just feel like a failure when it comes to getting it right with her. I've tried different disciplinary actions I've even tried ignoring her and nothing seems to fix the problem. Sometimes I feel like I should seek counceling for myself. I feel like I'm doing the wrong thing every time.

Please help me

caribbean woman 

a toddler can be difficult, and can try most parents’ patience, so you are not

alone.Part of the reason why most young

children act out in such defiant ways is due to the discovery that they are

separate individuals from their parents, and they want to assert their

new-found independence in any way possible.It is also developmentally normal for toddlers to have a low tolerance

for frustrating situations, and few coping skills when they do happen.Something that can be useful to address

constant tantrums is to be clear and consistent about the rules and

expectations you have for her, as well as how you will respond if she is acting

out.For example, before going into a

store, you might tell her, “We are going into the store to buy bread and

milk.You need to hold my hand and speak

quietly while we are in the store.If

you are screaming, we will leave the store and you won’t be able to watch a

video today.”You can find more tips and

information in our article do not recommend using the steps described

here to address her toileting accidents.Instead, it might be useful to check with her doctor about a strategy to

address this behavior.Finally, it’s

normal to feel overwhelmed and doubt your ability to parent, especially when

you are a single parent of a toddler.It’s

important to have support so that you can take care of yourself, whether that

is calling a friend or family member when you’re feeling stressed, or finding more

structured resources like a counselor or support group.Thank you for writing in; I understand how

difficult it is to raise a toddler.Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going.Take care.

Christina Catherine My daughter is 7 and her behavior is decent at home but at school if teacher tells her to do something she doesn't want to do she then goes into a rage screaming im not doing it and she has tried to attack 2 of her teachers when they took More a toy away and if she loses a game she goes into rage if she is not first in line she attacks that child i have her in counseling but 3 years later im getting worried im at point of homeschooling her


I can hear your concern and it

is a question we get often, so you are not alone. The good news is your

daughter’s behavior at home is respectful and she does not exhibit the

classroom behavior’s you describe. What that tells me is that she is capable of

managing her frustration, so with some coaching she can learn how to behave

better at school when she is faced with an overwhelming situation. James Lehman

would say that your daughter’s tantrums are just an inappropriate problem

solving technique. When your daughter is confronted with a situation she does

not know how to mange yet, she has a tantrum. What you can do to help your

daughter  is to set limits with her, and teach her the skills she needs to

manage overwhelming feelings on her own. Sara Bean explains how to do this in

her article, The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems” .

I hope this has been helpful and we appreciate you reaching out to us for

support. Check back with us when you need to. Take care.

Ashmo84 One suggestion I would like to share is role play with your daughter. Place her in a situation where she realizes the same behavior she occurs at school. Make sure your not directing this behavior towards her and get her feedback on how she think that situation should've been handle. More Possibly give her some suggestions while role playing. Not only is it something she enjoys but less likely to show signs of distress if she enjoys it. Afterward reward her for making right choices. Good luck.

Thank you for writing in; I’m glad

that you found our site!  You are right that different environments can

call for different strategies to address inappropriate behavior in the

moment.  When you are in public, and your son starts to have a tantrum,

one option is leaving the store.  If that is not possible, it is going to

be most effective to remain as calm as possible, and to do your best not to

give a lot of attention to the tantrum.  For instance, you might move slightly

away from your son, and simply state, “You need to calm down.”  The best

way to improve this type of behavior, though, is by talking about it when

things are calm.  It’s normal for kids your son’s age, because they have a low tolerance for

frustration, and few coping skills to handle difficult situations.  It can

be useful to talk with him ahead of time about some ideas he can implement when

he is feeling angry or upset, such as taking some deep breaths, drawing an

angry picture or squeezing a stress ball.  You might also find it useful

to use a, where he can earn a small incentive or

reward by applying the new skills you have discussed.  This can be a

frustrating situation for everyone involved; please be sure to write back and

let us know how things are going for you and your son.

Dhiraj Sachdeva It was a great article and I will try to implement these while dealing with my son.

I desperately need help with my 7 yr old daughter. She's the youngest of 4 (3 older brothers -15,11,9). Her tantrums are getting worse and worse. Or I should say anger outbursts. I need to know what I can do to help her cope with her angry moments. I've tried all of your suggestions above and they don't work with her. Most of the time she is a lovely child who loves a variety of things but then something sets her off and she loses it and screams and yells and throws things around.

At school she is a model student who is very bright (according to the teacher).

Please give me some suggestions

Ashmo84 I think the best strategy to try is speaking with her when she is calm. Explain to her that it's okay to be angry but allow her to express herself by letting someone know she needs to calm down or to use her words so someone can help her.

It can be so challenging when your child behaves one way at home

yet is able to exhibit more appropriate behaviors at school and other settings.

This is actually a pretty common situation, as Sara Bean explains in her

article Angel Child or Devil Child? When Kids Save Their Bad Behavior for You . The good

news is this does show that your daughter has the skills to deal with

frustration appropriately. Now it’s just a matter of motivating her to use

those skills when she gets upset at home. One thing you might consider doing is

sitting down with your daughter at a calm time and talk with her about what she

can do differently the next time she gets angry. You could even ask her what

she does at school when she gets upset with a friend or classmate. Having these

types of problem solving conversations will help your daughter start to develop

the same skills at home that she uses at school. In the moment when the

behavior is happening, it’s probably going to be best to disengage from the

situation, allowing your daughter to calm down on her own. Trying to

rationalize with a child who is in the middle of a tantrum is rarely effective.

Dr. Joan Simeo Munson offers tips for steps you can take to thwart a tantrum in

her article Stopping a Temper Tantrum in its Tracks: What to Do When Kids Lose it . Hopefully,

this gives you some ideas for ways of addressing your situation. Be sure to

check back if you have any further questions. We wish you and your family the

best of luck moving forward.

@maddad tearing him down by calling him the worst person makes thing worse. I've been there!  We ,as the adult, need to show our children how to respect each other and by doing this , we have to give respect, even when it seems so hard because his yelling down More your throat. Instead of pointing out  all his flaws encourage your child. Tell him how much  you love him and that you want the best in life for him. When he does something good make a big deal about it, compliment him. Sometimes we get so caught up in all the bad qualities of each other that we forget the good ,even if its barely visible.

skiptracer10 I am so sorry to hear your family is facing such struggles. I can only imagine how distressing this situation must be for everyone. From what you have written, it sounds like your son has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, which may be having a negative impact on his behavior. More If he currently is still in counseling, it would be beneficial to work closely with his care provider to develop a plan for addressing the behaviors you are seeing. Having someone who knows your son and is able to work directly with you and your family would be a constructive way of helping your son develop skills to deal with his anger and anxiety more effectively. He or she may also be able to help your family develop a safety plan you can implement when your son becomes physically aggressive towards other family members. You could also contact your local crisis response and talk with someone there about steps you and your wife can take to ensure everyone’s safety. In the moment when the behavior is happening, it is probably a good idea to step away from your son, thereby decreasing the possibility he will cause harm to others. Trying to reason with him probably will not be an effective approach when he is feeling anxious or angry.  Calling the police when he becomes assaultive is another option. There are many parents in situations such as you describe who second guess their decision to have or adopt children, so, you’re not alone. Raising a child is tough; raising a child with mental health issues even more so. It may be valuable to find out what other types of community resources are available for your family,  such as a parent support group or respite care. The 211 Helpline would be able to give you information on these and other services in your area. You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by visiting them online at I appreciate you writing in and wish you and your family the best of luck moving forward. Take care.

My husband and I have hit the 12 year old preteen angst with our daughter, but we were raised differently.. We don't believe in all this "Love and Logic" crap.  We were raised that if you talked to your parents disrespectfully, you got a spanking or grounding, which ever hurt More your feeling or your pride worse. :)  But we can't justify either with what's going on. We have taken away the Ipad, the cell phone, the computer, etc, But, big deal. Right now, the hormones are kicking in, and unfortunately, one of her grandparents, one she was Very close to when she was a baby, has been struck with Alzheimers and it is really breaking her heart.  We live very close to them, and she would visit them practically every day.  Now, she can barely stand to go down there.  It's just sad.  I have begged her to go and she tells me that her Papaw doesn't remember her.  But I tell her that she needs to make the memories for Herself.  She is practically the Only one in the family that he Does least her name. She is struggling with two subjects in school and a certain much that when she is frustrated, she pulls her hair.  Our baby girl has Never had a temper like I have seen in the past six months and I am at the point of taking her to the doctor and just making sure there are no other hidden problems.  I have thyroid issues...Maybe I should have blood work done just to make sure.  Any ideas or anyone else in this boat...Help?  Thank you.

Ashmo84 Do you think your daughter would be interested in writing in a diary when she becomes frustrated. Make a big deal about it and praise her when she uses it. For the most part this could possibly be a stressful time so you want to be the best advocate for More her during this time. Communication goes a long way with preteens. The environment can play a major role on the child so having a conversation with her where she is less likely to be distracted but attentive would be great. But try not to be so direct just ask few open ended questions where she can respond. All they really want is for you to listen. Good luck!!!! Keep up the great work!!!! Try to stay calm

KellyRichardson I hear you. The tweens and teens can throw any parent into a tailspin. Having her seen by her doctor to rule out any possible underlying issues is a good idea. Health issues can have an adverse effect on behavior. You might also consider finding someone she can talk to about the changes she is seeing in her grandfather. It can be difficult as an adult to watch someone you love change as such a debilitating disease progresses. Being a young girl, she may not have the necessary coping skills to deal with the situation effectively. You might reach out to her school counselor or see if there is an Alzheimer support group in your area. Something to keep in mind is it’s not unusual to see changes in behavior as a child progresses into adolescence, as Janet Lehman discusses in the article Adolescent Behavior Changes: Is Your Child Embarrassed by You? .

Hormones are starting to have an increased impact on moods. School and social interactions are also becoming increasingly more challenging and your daughter’s problem solving skills may not be well developed enough to handle all of these changes. These aren’t excuses, however, for any acting out behavior you may be seeing. So, once the doctor has had the chance to rule out any underlying issues that might be going on, you can then develop a plan for addressing the behaviors and also helping her develop those important problem solving skills. One article in particular you may find helpful is The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems” . Something to keep in mind is it’s usually more useful to pick one behavior to focus on at a time, such as verbal disrespect or homework. Trying to address everything at once probably isn’t going to be effective since it will probably overwhelm everyone involved. Hang in there. The teen years are a bumpy ride but we do all manage to make it through. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Good luck to you and your family as you work through these issues. Take care.

hi lm a foster mum with a13 year old boy who many times shouts and does all the things l have read on here . he was very taken back when l just looked at him and did nothink . l just walked away and did what l was doing More not saying a word . he knew l was there and followed me around waiting for a reaction . as the time went on he asked me if their was any think wrong with me . lsaid not at all . l then asked him . are you ok to which he said yes thankyou ? we then had a talk and was able to work out what was upsetting him and how it was deal with by him .

dunnowhattodonext DeniseR_ParentalSupport I have tried the talking to my son about what he can do differently when he feels that anger coming on.  IT DOESN'T HELP when that rage washes over them.  They can't think.  My son can control it in front of other people too.. Until he starts to feel More comfortable. He acts fine and completely calm in front of everyone.  That is not who I deal with on a daily basis.  They have no idea that behind closed doors I lock myself and my 8 year old girl in my bedroom and hope he doesn't break the door down.  He's gotten close.  The distance between the lengths he will go and that line in the sand get shorter everyday and I pray that something will save him before those lines get crossed and something really bad happens.

@maddad Can I tell you how much I understand.  I have been a single mother doing this for so long.  I completely understand the biding time.  I cannot wait until my son is out of my house.

As usual in this kind of article, there's a lot of don't and not much of guidance about what to do...

Kinda useless.  But thank you anyway.

@maddad I'm dealing with the same with both of my youngest daughters. I have six children. They have two older sisters that graduated high school with 4.0 gpa's and are responsible healthy individuals. However, my two youngest girls are 17 and 15. They do WHATEVER THEY PLEASE WHENEVER THEY PLEASE. More They do drugs, they sneak out, they run away for days at a time and both do not go to school. We've tried it. Most of these approaches aren't realistic. Cops don't help, we've tried. Social Workers have all these great ideas that don't work.  Currently, my 15 year old is in a shelter. She's threatening me from the shelter on how things will be when she gets home. I know she'll do the same when she returns.  I find most of the "great" parenting advice a joke. It does not work. I've tried it all. They say therapy. What if your "child" refuses to get into a vehicle with you? They say take things away. What if your child doesn't care if things are taken away? We've tried. They say be more understanding and make them feel like they have a choice. We've tried that, too.  My only problem at this point now is that my 15 year old has 2.5 years left in our care. I'm counting down those years until she's 18 and I can finally get her out of our home.  We have two younger children at home who are 5 and 7, both boys and this has affected them greatly.  I feel your pain. I really, really do. It's a lonely world for parents like you and I. Nothing works. NOTHING.

Responses to questions posted on are not intended to replace qualified medical or mental health assessments. We cannot diagnose disorders or offer recommendations on which treatment plan is best for your family. Please seek the support of local resources as needed. If you need immediate assistance, or if you and your family are in crisis, please contact a qualified mental health provider in your area, or contact your statewide crisis hotline.

We value your opinions and encourage you to add your comments to this discussion. We ask that you refrain from discussing topics of a political or religious nature. Unfortunately, it's not possible for us to respond to every question posted on our website.

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Disrespect... defiance... backtalk... lack of motivation...

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Is my child's anger normal.

How to tell if emotional outbursts or aggression are beyond typical childhood behavior.

Clinical Expert: Alnardo Martinez, LMHC

What You'll Learn

  • When does a child need help with their anger?
  • What can cause tantrums in older kids?
  • How can I help my child control their anger?

Most kids have tantrums occasionally. But if they happen a lot, they could be signs of a problem, especially in a child older than eight. It can be really concerning if the outbursts are dangerous to the child or others, cause problems at home and school, and makes the child feel as if they can’t control their anger.

A lot of anger in children is usually a sign that they are frustrated or in distress. It’s important to identify the source. There can be many underlying causes, including autism, ADHD, anxiety, or learning disorders. Kids with these disorders often have meltdowns around school, homework, or when they don’t want to do something.

While sometimes medication can help reduce the symptoms of underlying disorders, the best solution for reining in anger issues is for kids and parents to learn important behavioral skills together.

The first step in reducing outbursts is to identify your child’s triggers . If it’s something like getting ready for school, solutions such as showering and picking out clothes the night before can help. Breaking tasks down into steps like this often receives a positive response from kids.

The way parents respond to their child’s tantrums is also important. Staying calm when your child acts out, ignoring negative behavior, and praising positive behavior will help reduce angry outbursts. Consistency is key. It’s important to set rules, let your child know what will happen if they break those rules, and then follow through. Parents also want to work with their child to find ways to calm down and control their anger by using coping skills like slow breathing.

Most children have occasional tantrums or meltdowns . They may sometimes lash out if they’re frustrated or be defiant if asked to do something they don’t want to do. But when kids do these things repeatedly, or can’t control their tempers a lot of the time, it may be more than typical behavior.

Here are some signs that emotional outbursts should concern you:

  • If your child’s tantrums and outbursts are occurring past the age in which they’re developmentally expected (up to about 7 or 8 years old)
  • If their behavior is dangerous to themselves or others
  • If their behavior is causing them serious trouble at school , with teachers reporting that they are out of control
  • If their behavior is interfering with their ability to get along with other kids, so they’re excluded from play dates and birthday parties
  • If their tantrums and defiance are causing a lot of conflict at home and disrupting family life
  • If they’re upset because they feel they can’t control their anger, and that makes them feels bad about themselves

Understanding anger in children

When children continue to have regular emotional outbursts, it’s usually a symptom of distress. The first step is understanding what’s triggering your child’s behavior. There are many possible underlying causes, including:

  • ADHD: Many children with ADHD , especially those who experience impulsivity and hyperactivity, have trouble controlling their behavior. They may find it very hard to comply with instructions or switch from one activity to another, and that makes them appear defiant and angry. “More than 50 percent of kids with ADHD also exhibit defiance and emotional outbursts,” says Vasco Lopes, PsyD, a clinical psychologist. Their inability to focus and complete tasks can also lead to tantrums, arguing, and power struggles. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been diagnosed with ADHD — in fact, ADHD is sometimes overlooked in kids who have a history of severe aggression because there are so many bigger issues.
  • Anxiety: Children who seem angry and defiant often have severe, and unrecognized, anxiety . If your child has anxiety, especially if they’re hiding it, they may have a hard time coping with situations that cause them distress, and they may lash out when the demands at school, for instance, put pressure on them that they can’t handle. In an anxiety-inducing situation, your child’s “fight or flight” instinct may take hold — they may have a tantrum or refuse to do something to avoid the source of acute fear.
  • Trauma or neglect: A lot of acting out in school is the result of trauma , neglect, or chaos at home. “Kids who are struggling, not feeling safe at home can act like terrorists at school, with fairly intimidating kinds of behavior,” says Nancy Rappaport, MD, a Harvard Medical School professor who specializes in mental health care in a school setting. Most at risk, she says, are kids with ADHD who’ve also experienced trauma.
  • Learning problems: When your child acts out repeatedly in school or during homework time, it’s possible that they have an undiagnosed learning disorder . Say they have a lot of trouble with math, and math problems make them very frustrated and irritable. Rather than ask for help, they may rip up an assignment or start something with another child to create a diversion from their real issues.
  • Sensory processing issues: Some children have trouble processing the sensory information they are getting from the world around them. If your child is oversensitive, or undersensitive, to stimulation, things like “scratchy” clothes and too much light or noise can make them uncomfortable, anxious, distracted or overwhelmed. That can lead to meltdowns for no reason that’s apparent to you or other caregivers.
  • Autism: Children on the autism spectrum are also often prone to dramatic meltdowns. If your child is on the spectrum, they may tend to be rigid—needing consistent routine to feel safe—and any unexpected change can set them off. They may have sensory issues that cause them to be overwhelmed by stimulation, and short-circuit into a meltdown that continues until they get exhausted. And they may lack the language and communication skills to express what they want or need.

How can you help an “angry” child?

Medication won’t necessarily fix defiant behavior or aggression; it can reduce the symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, and other disorders and improve the conditions for working on those behaviors. Behavioral approaches that have parents and children working together to rein in problem behavior are key to helping the situation.

Find the triggers The first step in managing anger is understanding what triggers set off a child’s outbursts. So, for instance, if getting out the door for school is a chronic issue for your child, solutions might include time warnings, laying out clothes and showering the night before, and waking up earlier. Some kids respond well to breaking tasks down into steps, and posting them on the wall.

Consistent parenting When a child’s defiance and emotional outbursts occur, the parent or caregiver’s response affects the likelihood of the behavior happening again.

If a child’s behavior is out of control or causing major problems, it’s a good idea to try step-by-step parent training programs . These programs (like Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, or PCIT, and Parent Management Training) train you to positively reinforce behavior you want to encourage in your child, and give consistent consequences for behaviors you want to discourage. Most children respond well to a more structured relationship, with calm, consistent responses from parents that they can count on.

Here are some of the key elements taught in parent training:

  • Don’t give in. Resist the temptation to end your child’s tantrum by giving them what they want when they explode. To give in only teaches them that tantrums work.
  • Remain calm and consistent. You’re in a better place to teach and follow through with better, more consistent consequences when you’re in control of your own emotions. Harsh or angry responses tend to escalate a child’s aggression, be it verbal or physical. By staying calm , you’re also modeling—and teaching—your child the type of behavior you want to see in them.
  • Ignore negative behavior and praise positive behavior. Ignore minor misbehavior, since even negative attention like reprimanding or telling the child to stop can reinforce their actions. Instead, lavish labeled praise on behaviors you want to encourage. (Don’t just say “good job,” say “good job calming down.”)
  • Use consistent consequences. Your child needs to know what the consequences are for negative behaviors, such as time outs, as well as rewards for positive behaviors, like time on the iPad. And you need to show them that you follow through with these consequences every time.
  • Wait to talk until the meltdown is over. One thing you don’t want to do is try to reason with a child who is upset. As Stephen Dickstein, MD, a pediatrician and child and adolescent psychiatrist, puts it, “Don’t talk to the kid when they’re not available.” You want to encourage a child to practice at negotiation when they’re not blowing up, and you’re not either.
  • Build a toolkit for calming down. Both you and your child need to build what Dr. Dickstein calls a toolkit for self-soothing, things you can do to calm down , like slow breathing, to relax, because you can’t be calm and angry at the same time. There are lots of techniques, he adds, but “The nice thing about breathing is it’s always available to you.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Childhood anger issues involve frequent anger that becomes dangerous to the child or others, causes problems at home and school, and makes the child feel out of control. While most children have occasional tantrums, extreme anger on a regular basis, especially in a child older than eight, might be a sign of a mental health issue.

Anger in children is usually a sign of frustration or distress, which can be caused by many underlying issues, including autism, ADHD, anxiety, or learning disorders. The first step in reducing a child’s anger is to identify its source.

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6 Ways to Help Your Child Manage Their Anger

Why do young kids get physical when they're angry, and how can you better understand their behavior? Here's how to handle an angry, aggressive child.

  • Accept Your Child's Anger

Encourage Them To Use Words

Find a positive solution, find a quiet space, set a firm limit.

I remember it like it was yesterday: I'm standing and watching helplessly as my usually cute 4-year-old screams and kicks on the living room floor because we're not going to the playground. She's clenching her fists and gritting her teeth so hard that her jaw is shaking. Sound familiar?

These dramatic and sometimes terrifying displays of anger in young children often come from a lack of language, explains Meri Wallace, LCSW, parenting expert, child and family therapist, and author of Birth Order Blues . In other words, toddlers and preschoolers can't tell you what's wrong or what they need. "Instead, they express these feelings and needs in a physical way," says Wallace. "They will cry and scream, thrash around, or kick their feet."

Young children also lack impulse control, so when frustrated or angry, it becomes an almost instant stimulus-response reaction. Since they can't effectively communicate their want, needs, or feelings, they may lash out with aggressive behavior like hitting or biting.

"Toddlers see their wishes and desires as urgent," Wallace continues. A tantrum is a child's form of protest about having their desires thwarted and feeling certain powerlessness.

While watching your toddler convulse in anguish over a missed playground visit may feel anything but normal, anger is a perfectly natural emotion . Not only that but as with all emotions, it follows children through all the stages of development into adulthood.

During the COVID-19 pandemic , some parents saw more flashes of anger due to kids feeling cooped up. But, as Wallace says, it's important to remember that parents would face developmental issues of physical expression of anger anyway. So, no matter why it occurs, it's your job to teach children the best ways to handle it.

Read on for some tips on how to handle an angry, aggressive child and help your little person manage their emotions.

Accept Your Child's Anger

When your child has an angry outburst, acknowledge it. Say something like, "I can see you're angry." If you know why they are mad, you can add the reason: "I can see you're angry because you love swinging on the swing, and we have to leave the park."

Next, accept their anger. Tell your child, "It's OK to be angry." You want your child to feel that both they and their emotions are OK . You don't want them to think they must hide their feelings.

Researchers say validation is essential because it helps reduce the emotional intensity, allowing for emotional regulation. On the flip side, invalidation communicates that someone's feelings or description of their experience is "wrong." This tends to escalate the emotions.

Children do not naturally know what words to use, explains Wallace. So you have to teach them this social skill. For example, you can tell your child: "When you feel angry, you need to use words," or "I want to hear what's upsetting you. If you use words, I'll understand better and can help."

If they can't figure out how to explain their anger, you might help them with a script: "When you're angry, say, 'I'm angry,' and I will help you." Over time, children internalize your voice and your rules.

By age 5, children develop their superego, the moral or "conscience" aspect of personality. This Freudian concept suggests that the superego reflects the values of parents and other authority figures. This can act as an internal stop sign and help them control aggressive impulses.

For generations, tantrums were viewed as manipulation attempts. Experts used to advise parents to handle an angry, aggressive child by letting them "cry it out" or risk spoiling them. That's no longer the case. Instead, pediatricians advise handling them calmly and directly with different tactics to help de-escalate the situation.

Though parents can indeed fall into a negative pattern of gratifying a child's every wish to avoid a meltdown, letting children cry it out doesn't teach them a more positive way to handle themselves. In fact, children need help moving out of their anger , and guiding them through it is better than letting them sink into it.

Some ways to help them through a tantrum include:

  • Finding a solution : "It's hard to share your favorite stuffie. Let's put it away while your friend is here to play and we can take it back out later."
  • Using distractions or redirection : "I know you're upset that it's raining and we can't go to the park. Why don't we go play in the tent in the living room?"
  • Offering an alternative or compromise : "We can't have ice cream before dinner, but we can have apple slices."

These strategies help move your child away from the frustration and toward something that excites them.

Stop a tantrum before it starts by not immediately saying "no" when a child requests something. Instead, pause and say aloud, "Let's see. You want that new toy. Let's talk about that." Taking a beat allows you to think about the request and how to positively deny it, if necessary, or divert your child's attention.

Slowing down and discussing it also lets your child understand the reason for a refusal and accept it more agreeably. You want to give your child the feeling that you hear them, care about their desires, and let them know they can trust you to help them through life's disappointments .

Sometimes, a change of location can also stop a tantrum in its tracks or break through an impasse. For example, you can say, "Let's go to see that doggy you like at the pet store," or "Let's go to the pharmacy and get the hair clips you need. We'll keep talking on the way."

If you're in public, try to move away from the audience. Focus on your child and yourself, not other people's judgment.

This focus shift relieves any pressure you might feel from onlookers and allows you to relate to your child privately. The less noise and fuss there is, the easier it will be for you to help your child find calm. Take their hand and say, "Come sit on my lap, and we'll talk this over."

While you want to convey that it is OK if your child feels angry, you need to make clear that the aggressive behavior is not. For example, if your child hits their sibling, you can say, "It's OK to be angry. Your anger is OK. But, you cannot hit." Then add, "We don't hit or kick anyone."

Next, direct them toward a positive way to react to the situation. Explain your limit: "Hitting hurts. We don't hurt anyone." Children are more likely to cooperate if the reason is plausible.

The who and what of validation: an experimental examination of validation and invalidation of specific emotions and the moderating effect of emotion dysregulation .  Borderline Personal Disord Emot Dysregul . 2022.

Impact of parenting on personality traits of a child . South Asian Research Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences. 2019 .

Top tips for surviving tantrums . American Academy of Pediatrics . 2021.

anger management for 5 year olds

Anger management for 5 year olds.

Does it feel like your 5 year old child is ruling the roost. That unless you do what they want a tantrum will happen at any moment. It’s time to take back control of your life and add some structure to your 5 years old life.

In younger children, intense emotions and temper tantrums are common as they start learning how to regulate their big feelings and temper tantrums.

Deal With Anger Issues While They Are Young

But an older aggressive child throwing an angry tantrum is different.

It is tough to have an angry child at home. It can put serious strain on the family. You never know what little thing would set them off and turn a normal activity into a storm of angry outbursts or physical destruction. It’s frustrating and exhausting for parents and family members to deal with.

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Does your child cry or get angry when they lose a game? If you invest a bit of time implementing these seven skills, your child is going to find it easier making and keeping friends, dealing with playground life, and losing a game on the sports field.

Your Child’s Anger Language (And How to Change it)

Your child’s ‘anger language’ can be hurtful and unkind. So what does your child say? What do they mean? And how can you teach your child to be respectful?

Anger is like a balloon

With children, anger builds– like blowing up a balloon. Then something small can happen and the balloon bursts. But what makes it worse? What helps to reduce anger? And what are 3 tips you can use to as a parent to reduce angry outbursts?

7 ways to teach your angry child to calm down

Self-soothing is a vital skill for your child to use. Particularly if your child has an angry outburst. Here are 7 effective ways you can teach your child, to help them calm down. From deep breaths to creating a calm box.

Many parents are at a complete loss at how to handle an angry child

Do you have an angry child? Here are 10 effective ways to help your child to calm down when they’re annoyed, frustrated or have an outburst.

Is your child in charge at home?

Does your child rule the TV? Insist on the red cup? Or decide who reads their bedtime story? Here are 5 simple ways to deal with over-demanding or unreasonable behaviour.

The Secret to Defusing a Child’s Anger, Upset or Tantrum

What is the secret skill that will de-escalate your child’s big emotions, nine times out of ten? And what 6 steps can you follow if you want to defuse your child’s anger?

How can you deal with your child’s angry outburst? (Video Tips for Raising Children #16)

What should you do when your child has an angry outburst or tantrum? Follow these simple tried-and-tested techniques to help your child calm down quickly and learn to deal with angry feelings better in future.

What can you do if your child hits or is aggressive? (Video Tips for Raising Children #4)

Do you have an aggressive child? Help your child learn to stop hitting out using these simple-but-effective tips. So, they become calmer and express their anger more appropriately

What should you do if your child says “I hate you?” (Video Tips for Raising Children #13)

What should you do if your child says, ‘I hate you’? Use these top tips to stay calm, help your child deal with their anger in a more constructive way, and find ways to rebuild your relationship.

12 Ways to Help Children Manage their Anger

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how to deal with anger issues in 5 year old

Anger issues in children: diagnostic and treatment

by: David Gottlieb, PhD | Updated: November 4, 2022

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Anger overload in children: diagnostic and treatment issues

Angry reactions in some children are quite frequent and troubling to parents and teachers who witness them. The child’s intense anger may erupt quickly and intensely in reaction to limit-setting by adults, teasing, or seemingly minor criticism by peers or adults. Such anger issues are a distinct psychological problem in children which is separate from diagnoses such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder. This anger overload can co-occur with ADHD or learning disabilities , but may also occur separately from these diagnoses. But sometimes the signs of these anger issues are difficult to disentangle from other disorders.

At this time, the diagnostic manual, DSM-IV *, does not consider anger disorders as a separate category like depression and anxiety. However, many mental health professionals feel it is a category unto itself and are devising treatment strategies for anger problems. Daniel Goleman (in Emotional Intelligence ) and John Ratey and Catherine Johnson (in Shadow Syndromes ) offer cogent reviews of this literature. Goleman uses the term “anger rush” to describe anger problems in adults, while Ratey and Johnson refer to a shadow syndrome as “intermittent anger disorder” in adults. Anger disturbances in children need to be classified as a discrete psychological problem as well, and they require particular treatment strategies. This article defines the syndrome and outlines effective treatment strategies.

Signs of anger issues

The term anger overload is used to refer to the intense anger response which has been the presenting problem for a number of young children and preadolescents seen in a suburban outpatient practice. There is an intense and quick reaction by the child to a perceived insult or rejection. The rejection can seem quite minor to parents or others. For example, a parent saying “no” to something the child has been looking forward to doing can trigger an intense period of screaming and sometimes hitting, kicking, or biting. Another common situation that can trigger anger overload may occur in a game with peers. It can involve a disagreement on how the game should be played or its outcome. Parents often explain to the mental health professional that these reactions have been going on since early childhood in one form or another. It is frequently reported that these children become sassy and disrespectful: they will not stop talking or yelling when they are upset. At other times, when their anger has not been stimulated, these children can be well-mannered and caring.

The problem is called anger overload because it is more severe than a temporary anger reaction lasting only a few minutes. With anger overload, the child becomes totally consumed by his angry thoughts and feelings. He or she is unable to stop screaming, or in some cases, acting out physically, even when parents try to distract the child or try to enforce limits and consequences. The anger can last as long as an hour, with the child tuning out the thoughts, sounds, or soothing words of others.

Another significant characteristic is that these children are sometimes risk-takers. They enjoy more physical play than their peers and like taking chances in playground games or in the classroom when they feel confident about their abilities. Other children are often in awe of their daring or scared of their seemingly rough demeanor. Perhaps most interesting is that these very same risk-takers can be unsure of themselves and avoid engaging in other situations where they lack confidence. A number of these children have mild learning disabilities and feel uncomfortable about their performance in class when their learning disability is involved. They prefer to avoid assignments where their deficits can be exposed, sometimes reacting with anger even if the teacher privately pushes them to do the work with which they are uncomfortable.

One diagnostic fallacy is to assume that these children have bipolar disorder. Dr. Dimitri and Ms. Janice Papolos recently devoted a full book to the disorder ( The Bipolar Child , 1999). The rages of children with bipolar disorder are more intense and lengthy than for the children we are currently discussing. The Papoloses describe (page 13) that for children with bipolar, these fits of anger can go on for several hours and occur several times a day. In children with bipolar, there is often physical destruction or harm to something or someone. In children with anger overload, the outburst is often brief, less than half an hour, and while there may be physical acting out, usually no one is hurt. In addition, children with bipolar have other symptoms such as periods of mania, grandiosity, intense silliness or hypersexuality.

Anger overload is also different from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children with ADHD have significant distractibility, which occurs regularly in school and/or the home. By contrast, children with brief outbursts of anger often pay attention well when they are not “overheated” emotionally. In addition, children with ADHD may have hyperactive movements throughout the day; whereas children with anger overload only seem hyperactive when they are overstimulated with feelings of anger. Finally, children with ADHD are often impulsive in a variety of situations, many of which have nothing to do with anger.

It is possible, however, for children to have symptoms of ADHD and anger overload. This combination is especially difficult for parents to manage. Behavioral strategies for ADHD are not as effective because the child becomes excessively angry despite efforts by others to focus his attention elsewhere. Sometimes, professionals then tell the parents or teachers that they are not applying behavior modification techniques properly. What may work for a child who has ADHD may not be as effective for a child who also has the problem of anger overload.

Another diagnostic category that can be differentiated from anger overload is oppositional defiant disorder. Oppositional children have a continuing pattern of disobedience to adult demands, whereas children with anger overload are only defiant when their anger is stimulated. The situations which trigger their anger are more restricted. There are certain areas that have special importance to them, such as winning a game, buying a toy or being seen as successful in school. In most other situations, they are described by their parents as sweet and cooperative. Few, if any, oppositional defiant children are described by their parents in this manner.

Treatment techniques: behavioral strategies

When these children first come to a professional’ s attention, there may be a tendency to think that the parents must learn to ignore their children’s s tantrums. But this will not work reliably for children with anger overload. Their angry outbursts will not be extinguished this way. Behavior therapy for these children involves working with the parents as much as, or more than, the children themselves. Parents and teachers can learn strategies to teach their child self-control in a shorter period of time than the therapist can teach the child alone. By coaching the parents, the therapist has an impact on the child throughout the week. In addition, children cannot apply therapeutic strategies themselves at home when the anger is building. They need someone to cue them on what to do – usually a parent or teacher.

The first strategy is for the adult to recognize when the child is about to experience anger. This is sometimes difficult for anyone to predict. However, over time, parents and teachers begin to recognize signs that an angry outburst is impending . The look in the child’s eyes, the tone of his voice, or the tightness in his body tell the adult that the child is beginning to get upset. The time from when the child gets upset to when he shows full-blown anger may only be a few seconds. If it is caught in time, the child is much more likely to achieve self-control than if the adult tries to intervene once the child is overflowing with emotion. It is as if the child’s brain has reached overload then, and it takes some time to cool off.

One technique to use before reaching this point is distraction. The parent should try to turn the child’s attention to something else that is interesting to him/her. It is important that the distraction be interesting to the child – something he/she likes and that involves some action. The child is unlikely to immediately choose a quiet, sedentary activity like reading. A more effective distraction technique is going outside to ride a bike or playing catch. For example, if the family is at a park and the child does not want to leave the swings, then suggest he try the slide – which is an activity with a more natural ending point. Once he comes down the slide, the activity is at a possible stopping point. That is a good time to direct him to the car.

To help motivate the child, some behavior modification mechanism should be in place. Choose incentives and consequences that are brief and preferably immediate. A colorful chart or poster can be used to track two or three behaviors that the child needs to demonstrate during the day in order to earn a reward. Select one or two behaviors and review a behavior plan for these situations with your child.

The basic principle is to offer an alternative behavior that is more socially acceptable than an angry reaction. If the child does not use the alternative behavior and moves into a rage, a negative consequence may be imposed. The principle for negative consequences is similar to rewards: brief and immediate, where possible. A brief consequence such as being grounded from going outside and/or playing computer games for a few hours (or up to a day long, depending on the severity of the offense) is helpful in getting the child to recognize the importance of using self-control. If instead of using a strong verbal response, the child hits back when teased, a consequence will send a message better than trying to talk to the child. Children take consequences more seriously than “lectures.” They are more likely to remember a consequence later and to choose a more appropriate response the next time. Parents need to be firm about applying negative consequences because they send an important signal to the child. While such enforcers do not help shorten the immediate anger, they can help lower the frequency of angry outbursts in the future.

Another key principle when applying negative consequences is to eliminate discussion at the moment the child is raging. Giving the child attention, even talking, is a reward for negative behavior. Plus, the child who is raging is not rational at the moment, and the rage is likely to escalate further if consequences are mentioned while he is having a meltdown.

Therapy for ADHD and anger overload

If the child also has ADHD, problems like distractibility in the classroom or failure to complete assignments cannot be effectively dealt with until the child learns how to control his angry reactions. Otherwise, the child will likely react with extraordinary anger when teachers or caregivers give consequences or time outs for not working on or not completing class work. The child may feel criticized or embarrassed and not know how to control these feelings. Once anger control is learned, behavior modification aimed at goals like completing assignments is much more effective.

The issue of medication for ADHD has also been problematic at times for children who simultaneously have anger overload problems. Sometimes, stimulant medication will work for both problems, but it can also make it harder for a child to control his anger. In that case, medications other than stimulants should be considered. In some cases, a combination of a low dose of SSRI medication along with a low dose of stimulant medication can be helpful. However, the issue of medication for the dual problems of ADHD and anger overload needs further study.

Cognitive treatment strategies

One important point which affects how a child responds to a provocation is the way he or she perceives the problem situation : does he feel embarrassed, humiliated, or rejected? If the child feels an insult to his sense of pride or feels as if he was treated “unfairly,” he is more likely to exhibit rage. Teaching the child to respond assertively but in a controlled manner helps him not to feel humiliated or put down.

This approach is similar to cognitive therapy approaches, which aim to change the way a person experiences a situation. Sometimes the parent or therapist can suggest to an older child another way to look at the intentions of the other by whom the child feels put down. This is not always effective, as many children will insist on their interpretation of the situation. Instead, the adult helps the child to respond differently so that the child then “feels” differently about herself. By being assertive or learning new social skills, the child is less likely to feel embarrassed and upset.

Teaching the child one catchphrase is an effective cognitive strategy that can be used. For many children, one such phrase is, “everyone makes mistakes.” Children with anger overload often have high standards for themselves without even realizing it. They generally are not obsessive-compulsive by nature, but they also lack the social sense about what normal expectations are for children their age.

For example, one child frequently got upset when he made a written mistake in school. Another child raged when he could not find a puzzle piece, and another when his team lost a baseball game. Teaching these children that “everyone makes mistakes” really helps. They learn to say this phrase to themselves at the time of a mistake. Often we role-play this scenario ahead of time in the therapist’s office. This strategy, like the others we’ve discussed, takes time to work. The child may not remember to use it when he or she is upset, and once it is finally used, may forget it altogether. But over time, it will become more automatic.

Another useful phrase to use is, “Is this a good risk?” Since children with anger overload are often risk-takers, they like to try new challenges, including those that are dangerous or likely to provoke a negative response from adults. One child liked to make jokes in class when someone made a “funny” mistake. His classmates would laugh louder, and the teacher would get angry and give him a consequence. The child felt this was unfair and reacted with anger. The therapist helped the child to see the cause and effect of his actions and taught the child to evaluate the risk before making his remark. The child also learned to let others take chances and make funny remarks, rather than always taking the lead and getting punished.

Nonverbal cues can also be effective in some situations. A nonverbal cue, such as the adult putting up his hand like a policeman does to stop traffic, is more likely to work when the child is becoming upset rather than moving toward a full-blown rage. Also, the signal needs to be prearranged with the child when he is calm in order to increase the chances that the child will see the signal as benign, not as a punishment.

Future research ideas

For parents, a key factor in working with angry children is patience and practice. The techniques described above take time for parents and children to learn. The child’s problems are probably related to developmental lags or to subtle neurological deficits. In Emotional Intelligence (1995), Daniel Goleman summarizes research with adults which suggests that the limbic system of the person’s brain goes into overdrive when anger occurs, causing catecholamines to release. One neurological hypothesis which needs further testing for children with anger overload is whether there is a lag or deficit in their limbic systems, so that catecholamines are released more quickly or in higher concentrations than for other children. Building new behavior patterns is possible, but again takes time. Parents should notice gradual improvements toward the goal of self-control rather than feeling defeated if there is not an immediate change. It is not the parent’s fault if the child has problems with anger. Often if the parents review their family trees, they will notice some other relative, if not themselves, who had difficulty with anger as a child. In many cases, there most likely is a genetic component. This is not to say that anger overload cannot be changed. Internal mechanisms for self-control can be learned by the child. But the approach must be methodical and requires extreme patience. Parents will feel relieved once they begin using strategies that work and realize that their children are not destined for a lifetime of anger overload.

* The “DSM-IV: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV,” published by the American Psychiatric Association is the standard reference source for mental health professionals.

More information about anger overload in children can be found and answered at Dr. David Gottieb’s blog .

how to deal with anger issues in 5 year old

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5 Ways for Parents to Help their Child Deal with Anger Issues

I nstant meltdowns and getting aggressive are common traits among kids as they don't know how to handle their frustration or communicate their feelings. However, understanding why kids are lashing out can help parents deal with the issue effectively. So, here are five ways for parents to help their child deal with anger issues.

1. Keep Yourself Calm and Composed When Kids Are Angry

Anger is one of the natural emotions for a child to express their needs, wants and unhappiness about certain things. And it’s quite natural for parents to get irritated at times while figuring out the reason behind their kid’s sudden outburst.

But here is the thing, if you yell at them or get angry at their behavior, it will make the kids even more aggressive. The longer you yell, the longer will their outburst continue. Always keep in mind that the kids haven't yet mastered the art of problem-solving without getting upset. So, take a few deep breaths, calm yourself, control your raging emotions and try to understand your child's needs first. This is a stepping stone to help your child deal with anger issues.

2. Teach Your Kids How to Calm Down As Well

No matter how hard they cry their heart out, do not give in. This will only encourage kids to continue with such behavior every time their demands are not met.

Instead, teach the kids how to calm down when they feel overwhelmed. Ask them to count to 10, go for a walk, clench and unclench their fists to relieve tension, or simply walk away from the situation.

You can even hold their hand, breathe in sync and tell them to calm down so that you can understand their problem and together you both can find out the solution. You can even use positive images such as pictures of their smiling faces or videos of happy and fun times with family, to divert their attention.

3. Teach Kids How to Communicate their Emotions

During their good time, teach your child how to use words to convey their emotions and frustrations instead of showing aggressive behavior. Teach them words like happy, patient, angry, sad, frustrated, and more with the help of picture cards and help them link it with their emotions.

And do not forget to appreciate every little effort of your child when they try to communicate their emotions without throwing tantrums. This will help in building your child's confidence in managing their anger.

4. Do Not Expose Kids to Violent Media

It is always advisable not to expose kids to violent shows or video games as it may exacerbate their anger issues. Instead, divert them to problem-solving games, books or shows that can have a positive impact on their behavior.

5. Do Not Delay in Seeking Help if Anger Issue Escalates

Occasional meltdowns are absolutely normal in kids, but if the aggressive behavior persists for long, seek professional help immediately without hesitation to understand the accurate reason behind the kid’s aggressive behaviour and help your child accordingly.

Calming an aggressive kid takes time and patience along with a few tricks and techniques. Just don’t give up. Your efforts will definately pay off.

You can also read How Conscious Discipline Can Help You Be a Better Mom

The post 5 Ways for Parents to Help their Child Deal with Anger Issues appeared first on Momtastic .

5 Ways for Parents to Help their Child Deal with Anger Issues


Why is my 12 year old son so angry?

One common trigger is frustration when a child cannot get what he or she wants or is asked to do something that he or she might not feel like doing . For children, anger issues often accompany other mental health conditions, including ADHD, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome.

Is it normal for a 12 year old to be angry all the time?

It’s not uncommon for kids to let anger get the better of them in their preteen years, says Jennifer Kolari, a family therapist in Toronto. This even applies to kids who have never had issues with managing emotions before. “You’ll see anger, pushback and an increase in anxiety at this age.

How do you deal with an angry 12 year old boy?

7 Ways to Help a Child Cope With Anger

  • Teach Your Child About Feelings.
  • Create an Anger Thermometer.
  • Develop a Calm-Down Plan.
  • Cultivate Anger Management Skills.
  • Don’t Give In to Tantrums.
  • Follow Through With Consequences.
  • Avoid Violent Media.

What causes anger issues in a 12 year old?

A lot of anger in children is usually a sign that they are frustrated or in distress. It’s important to identify the source. There can be many underlying causes, including autism, ADHD, anxiety, or learning disorders.

Can puberty in boys cause anger?

The onset of puberty in males is associated with heightened self-esteem, increased aggression, and an increased sense of social dominance.

Parents Say 12-Year-Old Daughter Is Angry, Reactive, And Physically Attacks Them

What are the signs of puberty in boys mental?

With increased testosterone, they may have stronger emotions, a possible increase in aggressive behavior, and a sudden sex drive that they might not know how to manage. Since early puberty may cause stunted growth, boys may feel self-conscious about their height later on if they end up being shorter than their peers.

Are 12 year old boys difficult?

Tween boys may act as if their parents are mean, or uncool. This is normal, and a sign your son is developmentally on track. He is both figuring out who he is as an individual and trying to separate from you as his parents, all while experiencing intense emotions.

What happens to a boy at age 12?

Physical development

You will notice that your 12-year-old boy has changes in the timbre of his voice. As his vocal cords develop, his voice often sounds raspy, squeaky, or rough. He will also have growth of facial and pubic hair. His body will start becoming more muscular, and his shoulders will get broader.

Are anger issues part of puberty?

Teenagers often struggle with anger in part because their bodies are flooded with hormones that impact mood. Also, teenagers’ brains are still developing. The part of the brain responsible for decision-making and impulse control is not fully matured. Anger in teens can also signal deeper issues.

How do I discipline my 12 year old son?

10 healthy discipline strategies that work

  • Show and tell. Teach children right from wrong with calm words and actions. …
  • Set limits. …
  • Give consequences. …
  • Hear them out. …
  • Give them your attention. …
  • Catch them being good. …
  • Know when not to respond. …
  • Be prepared for trouble.

How do I discipline my 12 year old with attitude?

How Should I Discipline A Tween for Attitude Problems?

  • Watch your own tone. Think about how you tend to talk when you’re angry or stressed. …
  • Use natural consequences. …
  • Offer a chance for a “do-over.” Sometimes, preteens don’t even realize that they’re not using a great tone of voice. …
  • Pick your battles.

Do hormones make boys angry?

Hormonal imbalances in teenage girls and boys can also affect mood and emotions. Irritability, depression, anxiety, and nervousness can be symptoms of hormonal imbalance.

What are signs of anger issues in a child?

Anger symptoms in a child may include:

  • Appetite changes.
  • Change in how emotions are expressed.
  • Clenching of the teeth.
  • Easily angered or frustrated.
  • Somatic symptoms (e.g., headaches, stomach aches)
  • Tense muscles.
  • Heavy breathing.

Do boys start puberty at 12?

The average age for girls to start puberty is 11, while for boys the average age is 12. But it’s perfectly normal for puberty to begin at any point between the ages of 8 and 13 in girls and 9 and 14 in boys.

Are you still a little kid at 12?

Kids between 8 and 12 are called “tweens” because they are in between children and teenagers. It’s very normal for kids this age to start to move from being very close to parents to wanting to be more independent. But they still need a lot of help from their parents.

Is 12 still a kid?

Legally, the term child may refer to anyone below the age of majority or some other age limit. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines child as, “A human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.”

What age is hardest to parent?

From toddler tantrums to teen angst, parenting children at any age can be tough. Research shows that some people find it hardest to parent children in their middle school years. Puberty and peer pressure can leave these teens feeling angry, alone, and confused, which can cause bad behavior and disagreements.

What age do boys start liking girls?

First crushes may occur at any time, but generally start at around 10-13 years of age.

What is the hardest age of a child?

These findings may seem surprising if you’ve never had an 8-year-old, but there are some reasons a child’s eighth year can be especially challenging from a parent’s perspective. Eight-year-olds can be stubborn, slamming doors and rolling their eyes, in their attempts to establish their independence and individuality.

Do boys cry in puberty?

Emotional changes

Feelings of sadness, depression, and irritability are common in teenage boys as they transition to adulthood. Although these emotions are due to puberty, adolescents can often take out their feelings on family members or peers.

What age do boys stop growing mentally?

The brain finishes developing and maturing in the mid-to-late 20s. The part of the brain behind the forehead, called the prefrontal cortex, is one of the last parts to mature. This area is responsible for skills like planning, prioritizing, and making good decisions.

What age do boys get moody?

For boys, this transition begins around age 9-14 and lasts throughout their teenage years. Puberty can be a challenging and confusing time for boys that causes many emotional and physical changes, but it can also be a time for growth and maturity.

Is 13 late for puberty boys?

Normally, these changes begin in girls when they’re between 8 and 14 years old. In boys, they start between the ages of 9 and 15. This wide range in age is normal, and it’s why kids may develop several years earlier or later than many of their friends.

How can a boy hit puberty faster?

For some late bloomers, doctors may offer hormone treatment: Guys might get a short course of treatment with testosterone (usually a monthly injection for 4–6 months) to get the changes of puberty started.

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