Trying to express feelings is hard for kids! Here are some strategies that help angry kids calm down and control their outbursts.
Learning to control your emotions can be hard for most adults. So we can’t expect kids to just know how to either, without any guidance from the adults in their lives. If you are looking for effective ways to teach angry kids to calm down, this list is perfect for you.
(Also try… Take the Grrr Out of Anger)
How many of us parents thought we knew exactly what we were doing before we had kids? And then we became parents and holy smokes it turns out we knew nothing.
We learned about how to do effective timeouts and when to say sorry. But what about those kids that have some real anger problems? The hitters, the screamers, the spirited kids that already have emotions bigger than life?
If you have a spirited, or strong-willed child, you know better then anyone when that big outburst is going to hit. We can see it coming a mile away, certain triggers that cause these kids to get angry. And a lot of times there isn’t much you can do to prevent it from happening.
(You might also be interested in The Parenting Skills You Need for Raising a Spirited Child)
But there are ways to de-escalate the anger once it’s hit. There are some simple techniques you can easily implement that will help your angry kid to calm down in their moment of anger.
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Techniques to calm an angry kid
Here are some super simple techniques you can try with your kids when they start to get angry. Some can help prevent anger, and some are critical for when the anger is already out of control. Implement these strategies and you will definitely see a difference in their outbursts, and eventually less of them.
Monkey see Monkey do
Always a good reminder the EVERYTHING we do as adults is an example for our kids. How well do you control your anger? If you are prone to yelling and outburst, your kid will be too. Learn to keep an even tone and stay calm (easier said than done sometimes). If your kids see you staying calm, they will be more likely to do the same thing.
Practice the freeze game
If you happen to walk into the middle of a fight already in progress, say “freeze”. Kids respond to this because they know it from games and from school If they can ‘freeze’ they will instantly stop yelling, crying, or screaming. They will also immediately put their focus on you. And once you can get them to do that, you can sweep in with the next technique to get them to control what was going on before you intervened.
Take 3 big breaths or count to 10
Daniel Tiger says it best “When you’re feeling mad and you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to 4!” I sang this with my daughter at a young age because I could already see her little bossy personality coming out. And its helped us ever since. It’s a technique even adults use and will serve kids well throughout their lives.
Acknowledge their anger
There is nothing worse to a kid than someone who doesn’t understand WHY they are angry. Even if you don’t truly understand, or you disagree with their reason to be angry… you still need to acknowledge it.
“I know you are really upset about that kid taking your toy. It’s your toy and you don’t want to share”. Something like this lets kids know you understand them. You are not agreeing with them, or even telling their feelings are valid. You are just acknowledging how they feel. once you do this, it’s easier to remove them from the situation and talk about better behavior later.
Leave problem-solving for another time
When an adult is already angry, is that a good time to tell them MORE stuff to make them angry? Heck no! Kids are no different. No one wants to hear what they did wrong when they are already worked up. Your first priority is to get a kid to calm down. Work on ways to better the behavior another time.
Ask them how you can help
After you acknowledge their feeling, ask them what they need. Do they need you to get their toy back? Do they need you to be mad with them? Do they just need a hug? Let an angry child have a little bit of control over the situation and they are way more likely to calm down quicker.
Take some alone time
It’s pretty much a timeout but without using that terminology. When my daughter gets really mad, at other kids or even at me, I ask her to go to her room for some alone time. Time to do whatever she needs. I don’t put a limit on it. I just tell her to have some time to herself until she calms down and then we can talk about what upset her later.
Teaching kids to learn when to walk away from a bad situation will serve them well in their adult years! If only more adults had this skill…
Strategies to help them get rid of their anger
When I send my daughter to her room for “alone time”, I give her some ideas of things she can do to get her anger out. I learned this after the first time I left her to her own devices and she flung a piggy bank at the wall. Breaking the bank and putting a dent in the wall.
(You might also be interested in Skills Your Daughter Should Know Before She Becomes an Adult)
So here are some ideas kids can do to get out their frustrations when they are mad. So they don’t destroy your home! Practice these ideas even when they are not angry, so they will know exactly how to implement them when the time comes:
- Punch a pillow (my daughters favorite) or scream into the pillow.
- Put headphones on and listen to music. Sing loudly with a song.
- Write in a journal. Or write a letter to the person who made you mad (but don’t give it to them!)
- Shred paper. Keep old magazines just for this reason. Let a kid go nuts and tear that magazine up!
- Talk to someone. When I get mad, I love to call my bestie and vent to her. Kids might enjoy doing the same. Let them call an Aunt they are close to or a grandparent.
- Do wall push-ups. Lean against a wall and push push push as hard as they can!
- Go outside and run, or kick a ball.
Controlling Anger, an essential life skill
Learning to calm down when we are angry is an essential skill as an adult. Not being able to calm down our emotions can affect us in relationships, employment, and even friendships. It’s an important life skill we all need to have and there is no better place to start then in childhood.
Your kids can have the same outcome. With too many outbursts of anger, they can lose friendships and do poorly in school. Teaching them at an early age will help them to be more successful as adults.