5 Ways to Teach Your Child Anger Management Skills

Help your child learn healthy ways to deal with angry feelings

Teach kids anger management skills from an early age.

ideabug/E+/Getty Images

Frustration and anger can quickly turn into defiance, disrespect, aggression, and temper tantrums if your child doesn't know how to deal with his emotions.

When left unchecked, aggression in childhood, such as fighting, spitting, and teasing, has been linked to academic problems, peer rejections, and poor mental health in adulthood. 

If your child has trouble taming her temper, these five strategies can teach her anger management skills: 

1. Differentiate Between Feelings and Behavior

Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. But many kids struggle to understand the difference between angry feelings and aggressive behavior.

Teach your child to label his feelings, so he can verbalize feelings of anger, frustration, and disappointment.

Say, "It's OK to feel angry but it's not OK to hit." Help him see that he's in control of his actions when he feels angry. 

Sometimes, aggressive behavior stems from a variety of uncomfortable feelings, like sadness or embarrassment. Talk about feelings often and over time, your child will learn to recognize his feelings better.

2. Model Appropriate Anger Management Skills

The best way to teach your child how to deal with anger is by showing him how you deal with your emotions when you feel angry. If your child watches you lose your temper, he'll likely do the same. But, if he sees you cope with your feelings in a kinder, gentler way, he'll pick up on that too.

Although it’s important to shield your child from many adult problems, it's healthy to show him how you handle angry feelings. Point out times when you feel frustrated so your child understands that adults get mad sometimes too.

It's OK to say, “I'm angry the car in front of us didn’t stop to let those kids cross the street. But I’m going to stop so they can cross safely.” Verbalizing your feelings will teach your child to talk about his emotions too.

Take responsibility for your behavior when you lose your cool in front of your kids. Apologize and discuss what you should have done instead. Say, “I am sorry that you had to see me yelling today when I was mad. I should have gone for a walk to cool off when I was angry instead of raising my voice.”

3. Establish Anger Rules

Most families have unofficial family rules about what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to anger. Some families don’t mind doors being slammed and voices being raised while other families have less tolerance for such behaviors. Create written household rules that outline your expectations.

Anger rules should center around behaving respectfully toward others.

Address areas such as physical aggression, name-calling, and destruction of property so that your child understands he can't throw things, break things or lash out verbally or physically when he's mad.

4. Teach Healthy Coping Skills

Kids need to know appropriate ways to deal with their anger. Instead of being told, “Don’t hit your brother,” explain what she can do when she feels frustrated. Say, "Next time, use your words," or, "Walk away from him when you feel angry."

You can also ask, "What could you do instead of hitting?" to help your child begin to identify strategies that she finds helpful. You might create a calm down kit that she can use when she's upset.

Fill a box with items that can help her calm down, such as a coloring book and crayons, lotion that smells good, or soothing music. Engaging her senses can help calm her mind and her body.

Use time-out as a tool to help your child calm down. Teach her that she can put herself in time-out before she gets into trouble. Removing herself from the situation and taking a few minutes to herself can help her calm down. 

Teach problem-solving skills so your child can recognize she can solve problems without resorting to aggression. Talk about ways to resolve conflict peacefully.

5. Offer Consequences When Necessary

Give your child positive consequences when he follows the anger rules and negative consequences when he breaks the rules. Positive consequences, such as a reward system or token economy system, can motivate a child to use his anger management skills when he's upset.

Follow through with immediate consequences if your child becomes aggressive. Effective consequences may include time-out, loss of privileges, or paying restitution by doing extra chores or loaning a toy to the victim.

Seek Help When Necessary

It’s normal for kids to struggle to manage their anger at times. But, with your guidance, your child's skills should improve.

If your child is struggling to get his anger under control, or his anger problems seem to be getting worse, seek professional help. A trained professional can rule out any underlying mental health problems and can offer assistance in creating a behavior management plan.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.