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Last Updated on January 29, 2021

How To Help Your Child To Cope With Anger

How To Help Your Child To Cope With Anger

Kids have a way of disarming parents with their innocent smiles and sweet comments. However, nothing can quite prepare you for the wrath of an angry child.

Anger is a natural response to injustice or frustration. Kids aren’t born with emotional awareness and control, though, so it’s up to parents to help them deal with it. Fortunately, most kids outgrow outbursts and temper tantrums by the time they’re seven or eight. By then, they’ve learned self-control and can vocalize their frustrations better.

There are times when a child’s anger can be a sign of a deeper problem. Knowing the warning signs can be the first step in getting appropriate help.

When should you worry? What are ways to help a child cope with anger?

Is It Normal for My Child to Be So Angry?

Children can get upset for a variety of reasons. Often, it doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal, but kids have big emotions. You never know what might set them off. It might be spilled juice, a missing toy, the wrong kind of cereal, or socks that feel weird. Kids will communicate it often and in a wide variety of ways.

Here are the most common ways an angry child will express their feelings:

  • Crying
  • Screaming
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Yelling
  • Stomping
  • Pushing

Kids expressing themselves this way are exhibiting typical childhood behavior and usually self-correct with guidance and help.[1]

Sometimes, the situation is complicated because the anger is a symptom of a more serious issue. This requires more diligent efforts and possibly the help of a professional.

When Is Anger Extreme?

You may need to get further help if your child struggles with any of the following:

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  • They have tantrums and outbursts that go beyond 7 or 8 years old.
  • Their anger interferes with relationships at home and interrupts family life.
  • The child becomes dangerous to themself or others.
  • The child feels bad about it.
  • The child’s anger causes problems with other kids at school.
  • The frequency and intensity of outbursts increase as the child gets older.

These are signs that the anger is out of control and might point to an underlying issue.[2]

What Are the Common Sources of Anger?

It can be both frustrating and scary to realize your child may have an anger issue. You want answers so you can help your child. This list is not exhaustive but provides a good starting point. These are all common and can cause unexplained or extreme anger in your child.

1. Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)

This disorder is relatively new, so it’s uncertain how widespread it is. There are specific things to look for, however.[3]

  • Three or more severe outbursts a week, on average
  • Outbursts that have lasted at least 12 months
  • Chronically irritable or bad mood
  • Trouble functioning in multiple environments
  • Irritation is out of proportion to the situation, extreme for what would be considered normal for that age

DMDD is most often diagnosed between the ages of six and ten.

2. ADHD

Kids with ADHD can be more likely to struggle with anger. They tend to be more sensitive and impulsive, making their emotions harder to control. Frustrations from school or other kids can accumulate and make an outburst seem sudden and inappropriate. It can be hard for them to slow down mentally and physically and is even more difficult to do when under pressure or stressed.[4]

3. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Aggression is a common symptom of ASD and often takes the form of self-injury, temper tantrums, impulsivity, and irrational moods. Kids on the spectrum have a hard time with social interaction and boundaries.[5]

4. Environment

A child dealing with trauma or an unhealthy environment will be more likely to act aggressively. This can be hard for parents to acknowledge, but sometimes children learn anger at home. Or maybe they are dealing with something traumatic. The important thing is to pinpoint the problem and work as a family to fix it. It is better to reach out for help early on, so that good habits can be established.

How You Can Help Your Child Overcome Anger?

You may be asking, “What now?” With so much information available, it can be hard to figure out what’s best for your family and dealing with your angry child. Temper tantrums can be disruptive and hard to deal with, even if they only last a few years.

If your child has been diagnosed with a disorder, you might be feeling a mix of sorrow and relief. The process can be overwhelming. Often it means making large life changes as the family adjusts. It can take time to find the “new normal.”

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The good news is that finding answers and knowing what you’re facing can help you move forward. Those first steps feel good because you know you’re headed in the right direction.

Fortunately, there are many ways a child can learn anger management skills. With time and dedication, your child can learn specific techniques that will help process emotions. What are some of those methods?

1. Emotion Regulation

Emotion regulation is the ability to monitor when and how you have emotions and knowing what to do with them. It is a significant milestone in child development, and parents play a crucial role. How?

Imitation is the best way for children to learn how to regulate their emotions. Kids learn emotion regulation by watching those around them. You can show your angry child how to handle their feelings by being a good role model.[6]

It can be hard to stay calm in the heat of the moment. Here are some tips for getting control of your anger:[7]

  • Think before you speak.
  • Exercise.
  • Take a time-out.
  • Express yourself after you’re calm.
  • Don’t attack or criticize others.
  • Use humor to ease the conflict.
  • Look for solutions instead of focusing on the problem.
  • Know when to seek help.

2. Communication Strategies

Effective communication is key to relationships. Children struggle with finding the right words to convey what they’re thinking.

You can help your child learn good communication skills by:

  • Teaching your child a variety of words to use for different emotions
  • Allowing your child to describe their emotions by asking questions

3. Conflict Resolution

Knowing how to resolve conflict is an invaluable skill. Kids can begin learning it at an early age. Watch for opportunities to teach your child how to handle those stressful situations.

One example would be when you hear an argument take place. Step in to guide the process but be careful not to give the answers. Hear both sides of the story, and give each person a chance to come up with a resolution. Another way is to try turning it into a game to help make it memorable and fun, which can help your angry child calm down.

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4. The Stoplight Method

This method helps an angry child learn to calm down on their own. Practice it when they’re relaxed, so they can remember the process when they’re stressed.

  1. Have your child close his eyes and picture a stoplight.
  2. When the light is red, take three deep breaths and think of something relaxing.
  3. When the light turns yellow, it’s time to evaluate the problem. Think of two ways to solve the problem. Does he need an adult’s help?
  4. When the light turns green, it’s time to try one of the solutions out.

This visualization game helps build the patterns necessary to think a problem through.[8]

5. Exercise

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, increase focus, and give an overall boost. There’s another reason to consider including it in the list of treatments, though. If your child is overweight, aerobic exercise can be an effective way to reduce anger and aggression.[9]

A Quick Look at Behavioral Therapy

For children dealing with other disorders, the above methods might not be enough. While it can be discouraging, there is plenty of help available. With a little extra help, your child can have emotional control, too.

What other treatments are available? What can you expect next?

1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

A therapist does this type of treatment. The goal is for the child to recognize their thoughts and feelings and change the ones that negatively affect behavior. By identifying patterns and reactions, an angry child can learn to respond differently.[10]

2. Parent Management Training (PMT) for Behavior Therapy

This is similar to CBT but teaches parents how to respond to their child positively. The focus is on positive reinforcement, which is also a great way to build up the parent-child relationship.

Interestingly, this therapy involves some of the methods previously mentioned. Children are taught emotion regulation and CBT while parents focus on being good role models.

There are other key components, such as:

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  • Education
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Ignoring negative behavior
  • Rewards
  • Set standards
  • Allowing consequences

You Can Make a Difference Today

You have a list of treatments, but how are they put into action? What does it look like in everyday life? You can start today by teaching your child:

  • Self-Imposed Cool Off Time (SICOT): children close their eyes, rest their head on the desk or in their hands, and focus on calming down.
  • Anger itself is not bad. Everyone gets angry.
  • What happens to your body when you get angry
  • How thoughts influence our actions
  • Self-calming techniques, such as counting backward, breathing exercises, relaxing face and neck muscles, and unclenching fists
  • Self-awareness and triggers
  • Key phrases such as, “I’m frustrated/angry/irritated because…” “I am breathing calm.”

Is Punishment Appropriate?

It would be nice if there were a permanent solution and an angry child was never an issue again. Of course, that’s not the case, and your child will still make mistakes. Even adults do not handle their anger well at times, no matter how well-intentioned they might usually be.

You will have to decide when and what form of punishment is necessary. Keep in mind that sometimes, punishment can produce the opposite effect.

Here are some ways to make sure you’re making a positive impact, whatever route you decide to take:[11]

  • Be motivated by the desire to help.
  • Show your child their feelings are valid.
  • Give examples of acceptable ways to handle the situation.
  • Use plenty of positive reinforcement and praise them when they handle a situation well.
  • Avoid tempting or troubling circumstances when possible.
  • Use attention, affection, and touch to build your child up.
  • Don’t put your child down. Instead, focus on strengths.
  • Set clear limits. Have household rules that everyone is expected to follow.

Important Things to Remember as a Parent

Remember, you love your child more than anyone else. You want your child to succeed and live a healthy life. Be a positive role model and show patience as your child navigates emotions. Regardless of the severity of the anger, you can help your angry child reach realistic goals, and help is always available when you need it.

Knowing is half the battle, so arm yourself with knowledge. You’ll be more prepared, more confidant, and better able to withstand storms.

More Tips on How to Deal With an Angry Child

Featured photo credit: Alexander Dummer via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Yale Medicine: Anger, Irritability, and Aggression in Kids
[2] Child Mind Institute: Is My Child’s Anger Normal?
[3] National Institute of Mental Health: Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
[4] Understood ADHD and Anger: What You Need To Know
[5] Center for Disease Control: Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder
[6] Sage Journals: Social Learning Theory
[7] Mayo Clinic: Anger Management: 10 Tips to Tame Your Anger
[8] PBS: Five Strategies to Help Kids Resolve Conflict
[9] NCBI: Aerobic Exercise Program Reduces Anger Expression Among Overweight Children
[10] Center for Disease Control: Behavior Therapy
[11] Child Development Institute: Anger Management for Kids and Parents

More by this author

Adrienne Koziol

Adrienne is an educator, blogger, and mother of 9. She loves to help people reach their goals in relationships, health, and life.

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Published on April 9, 2021

50 Single Mom Quotes On Staying Strong And Loving

50 Single Mom Quotes On Staying Strong And Loving

Being a mom is not easy. Being a single mom is even more challenging. Having children means you are on the job 24/7. Even while you are sleeping, you are still ready to wake at the slightest peep because that is what moms do.

Moms, especially single moms, need more people cheering them on. Your love and care matter to your kids. You are their superhero. I think single moms are superheroes, too.

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The quotes below are words of encouragement for all of the single moms out there. Keep up the great work! Your hard work will pay off. Someday, they will be grown up and living on their own. Your job will never truly be done as a mom, but you can pat yourself on the back today and every day for doing mom duty day in and day out.

Here are 50 single mom quotes to encourage all the single moms out there.

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  1. “Being raised by a single mother, I learned to appreciate and value independent women.”—Kenny Conley
  2. “As a single mum you’ll discover inner strengths and capabilities you never knew you had.”—Emma-Louise Smith
  3. “One thing I know for sure – this motherhood thing is not for sissies.”—Jennifer Nettles
  4. “Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There’s no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving.”—Gail Tsukiyama
  5. “And one day she discovered that she was fierce and strong, and full of fire and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.”—Mark Anthony
  6. “She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn’t take them along.”—Margaret Culkin Banning
  7. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”—Alice Walker
  8. “Everyone has inside of her a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is.”—Anne Frank
  9. “Doubt is a killer. You just have to know who you are and what you stand for.”—Jennifer Lopez
  10. “You are more powerful than you know; you are beautiful just as you are.”—Melissa Etheridge
  11. “Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing.”—Ricki Lake
  12. “You don’t take a class; you’re thrown into motherhood and learn from experience.”—Jennie Finch
  13. “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”—Oprah Winfrey
  14. “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”—Charlotte Brontë
  15. “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”—Nora Ephron
  16. “When a woman becomes her own best friend life is easier.”—Diane Von Furstenberg
  17. “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”—Margaret Thatcher
  18. “Women have discovered that they cannot rely on men’s chivalry to give them justice.”—Helen Keller
  19. “Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles.”—Sharon Jaynes
  20. “Success, they taught me, is built on the foundation of courage, hard work, and individual responsibility. Despite what some would have us believe, success is not built on resentment and fears.”—Susana Martinez
  21. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”—Maya Angelou
  22. “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”—Ayn Rand
  23. “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”—Rudyard Kipling
  24. “The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because stuff worked out. They got that way because stuff went wrong, and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes.”—Elizabeth Gilbert
  25. “There will be so many times you feel like you failed. But in the eyes, ears, and mind of your child, you are a SUPER MOM.”—Stephanie Precourt
  26. “Motherhood is the ultimate call to sacrifice.”—Wangechi Mutu
  27. “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”—Maya Angelou
  28. “A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.”—Princess Diana
  29. “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”—Jill Churchill
  30. “There’s no doubt that motherhood is the best thing in my life. It’s all that really matters.”—Courtney Cox
  31. “I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.”—Mitch Albom
  32. “I have found being a mother has made me emotionally raw in many situations. Your heart is beating outside your body when you have a baby.”—Kate Beckinsale
  33. “Single moms, you are a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, a maid, a cook, a referee, a heroine, a provider, a defender, a protector, a true Superwoman. Wear your cape proudly.”—Mandy Hale
  34. “I’m not really single. I mean, I am, but I have a son. Being a single mother is different from being a single woman.”—Kate Hudson
  35. “Being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress, and twice the tears but also twice the hugs, twice the love, and twice the pride.”—Unknown
  36. “For me, motherhood is learning about the strengths I didn’t know I had, and dealing with the fears I didn’t know existed.”—Halle Berry
  37. “A single mom tries when things are hard. She never gives up. She believes in her family, even when things are tough. She knows that above all things… a mother’s love is more than enough.”—Denice Williams
  38. “You do the best you can. Some days you feel really good about yourself and some days you don’t.”—Katie Holmes
  39. “I would say to any single parent currently feeling the weight of stereotype or stigmatization that I am prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life.”JK Rowling
  40. “Just because I am a single mother doesn’t mean I cannot be a success.”—Yvonne Kaloki
  41. “I didn’t plan on being a single mom, but you have to deal with the cards you are dealt the best way you can.”—Tichina Arnold
  42. “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.”—Garrison Keillor
  43. “A single mom tries when things are hard. She never gives up. She believes in her family, even when things are tough. She knows that above all things, a mother’s love is more than enough.”—Deniece Williams
  44. “Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.”—Meryl Streep
  45. “Having kids—the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings—is the biggest job anyone can embark on.”—Maria Shriver
  46. “Mother is a verb. It’s something you do. Not just who you are.”—Cheryl Lacey Donovan
  47. “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dates all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”—Agatha Christie
  48. “A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.”—Princess Diana
  49. “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”—W.R. Wallace
  50. “Being a mother is the greatest blessing and the hardest challenge in all of life.”—Dr. Magdalena Battles

Final Thoughts

Single moms are remarkable women. They are to be respected and honored for all that they do. If you know a single mom, then share this article with them. Tell them “you are doing a great job as a single mom.” They need our encouragement and support.

They may be parenting alone, but it is good to let them know that there are people in their life who care for them. We can all be there for the single moms out there. Even if it is just to say, “keep up the great work, you are an amazing woman!”

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If you are a single mom, keep up the good work! You are amazing, and your kids are lucky to have you!

More Tips for Single Moms

Featured photo credit: Alexander Dummer via unsplash.com

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