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3 Ways to Respond to an Angry Child

It’s hard to know what to say or how to respond when your child is angry. As you look at them and wonder why they are so easily angered or how to calm them down, anger can quickly begin to form in your own mind.

angry child

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Teaching Healthy Ways for a Child to Express Anger

A child’s reasoning for being angry can range from, not being able to keep the toy trains on the tracks, to not being allowed to suck on the grocery cart handle, to not being able to play endless amounts of video games.

Their display of anger can range from crying or whining, to a full-blown tantrum or freak out that can cause a mom or dad to give in to the demands of their child, instead of using it for a teachable moment.

We all do it.

I’m not saying I never give in, especially when we are out in public, or want to have a moment’s peace while eating dinner.

And as there is no fix it fast or fix it every time to this aspect of parenting, there are some great logical responses you can revert to so you’re not tempted to get angry yourself. When parents have a plan set in place, they are more likely to succeed.

Your child will have moments, possibly multiple times a day, where anger gets the best of them. And if you can use these moments to teach your child what to do with their anger, it will help them in their tween, teen, and adult life, as you give them the tools they need.

Anger, in and of itself isn’t wrong. In fact, it’s completely normal and good for your child to express themselves in this way.

The important thing here, is that you want to teach them what to do with their anger, so your reaction to it, will pave the way for teachable moments in parenting.

What causes anger issues in a child?

Just because a child gets angry, doesn’t mean they necessarily have an anger issue. Sometimes anger is a way that a child will emotionally reach out to you because of an underlying cause.

But most often, getting angry is a normal part of being human.

That’s why it’s important to recognize that before you go trying to “fix” your child’s anger problems, understand that it’s normal–especially when you haven’t learned the coping skills or proper ways to respond to your anger, aka, being a child.

Sometimes when a child gets angry, it’s because you’re exacerbating them.

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to check yourself, and make sure your child’s anger isn’t a result of your bad parenting. I’m not saying that to make you feel guilty. But it’s something ALL of us need to do from time to time.

No parent is perfect. But the best thing you can do for your child, is admit it when you’re not, and do the work necessary to change your behavior, just as you expect them to do the same.

Be the example.

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Also, if you’re looking for a helpful and practical book about parenting, check out Parenting by Ted Tripp.

How to help an angry child calm down

mom and son talking

1. Ask them these questions

Sometimes, when children are angry, we tend to want to change the situation so they can be happy right away.

But we all know that’s not how life goes.

As anger IS a prevalent emotion you will encounter in your life, it’s all the more reason to help your child know what to do with their anger, as their experience of it will be immeasurable within their lifetime.

If you’ve ever encountered someone who doesn’t know how to control their anger by either keeping it inside or lashing out irrationally, then you know how difficult it is to be around someone like that.

Both of those responses to anger are neither healthy nor productive. So guiding your child with their anger response will be helpful to them in the long run.

But don’t mistake this for trying to control or manipulate your child to happiness. As providing a distraction for toddlers is a great way to divert them from a tantrum, as they get older, you don’t want to dismiss their problems or anger, but rather address and acknowledge it.

Here’s what we do in our family.

I say something like, “Do you want to talk about why you’re angry?” If they tell me why, I say, “Can I give you some advice as to what helps me when I’m frustrated?”

By asking questions, rather than telling them how they should behave differently, you are encouraging them to think about what’s going on, express their feelings, but at the same time not be controlling.

The main point is that you address their anger with understanding, and give them an opportunity to talk about it with you.

Try not to say things like, “Calm down” or “Stop it!” As those aren’t productive, can diminish your child’s feelings, and will often make your child more angry.

Another incredible way to help your child better express how they feel is to journal. That’s why we’ve created this Printable Kids Journal. It can help your child better express their feelings, encourage gratitude, and spark imagination. Check it out!

Check out the post – How Strong Willed Kids Need Less Push Back and More Grace

mom and daughter talking

2. Help them come up with a solution

Most children have no idea as to how to fix their problems. That’s why it’s important not only to tell your kids how to do something, but show them, guide them, and teach them.

I know that sometimes it’s easier to fix their problems for them. But when you can direct them on how to do it, then they will learn for the next time.

My son loves to build legos, and sometimes gets angry when he messes up or made it wrong. I usually don’t respond to his anger or scold him for it (when I’m being a good parent). But I ask him calmly to try it one more time to see if he can do it himself. And then if he can’t, I’ll ask if he wants my help.

Sometimes, I’ll jump in right away and help. Every situation is different.

But the objective here is to show empathy and offer your help. But also not fix all of their problems for them.

family talking

3. Identify with them

Saying things like, “Oh man, that must be super frustrating. Is there anything I can do to help you?”

By simply showing them you are there for them, will often ease the tension they have. From toddlerhood to adolescence, this will always ring true in parenting.

You can never go wrong when you identify with or have empathy for your kids. More often than not, I am learning that the less I try and control my child, the better their response will be. And the more trust is built between parent and child.

It’s a beautiful thing when we can remember that our children are human and not perfect. Just as we get angry sometimes, we shouldn’t expect our kids always to respond the way an adult would. Have grace for them to figure out how to address their anger. And remember that sometimes the positive results won’t come to fruition until they are much older.

Check out – 3 Common Parenting Fails

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