Dealing with angry children is the most difficult part of a parent's job. It stirs feelings ranging from exhaustion to nerve wracking aggravation. Often parents and children get locked into a contest of wills, and the parent wins with a "Because I Said So" argument. Afterward, they doubt themselves as parents and feel guilty, ashamed, and inept. Many of us were taught as children that we were not allowed to be angry, that being angry was bad, or that it was our fault if we were angry. These kinds of mistaken beliefs from our own childhood make it more difficult for us to handle anger in children.
    the first step toward better management of children's anger is to set aside what we were taught, and instead teach something new. Teach children that anger is normal, that it is ok to get angry. the task then becomes how to manage anger and channel it toward productive or at least acceptable outlets.
    Parents and teachers must remember that just as there are many things in our adult lives that make us angry (i.e., being cut off in traffic, losing something important, or being frustrated by our computers). Becoming angry at these types of events is normal. Likewise, there are many things in children's lives that make them angry, and their reactions are normal. Adults must allow children to feel all of their feelings, and model acceptable ways to manage them.
Children respond with anger because they feel helpless
    To understand why a child becomes more angry than other children takes some time and effort. What triggered the outburst? the thing to realize is that our anger is generally a reaction to frustration. In children, however, anger appears to be a more generic emotion. It can be triggered by embarrassment, loneliness, isolation, anxiety, and hurt. Children often respond with anger to these types of situations because they feel helpless to understand the situation fully and helpless to change it. In a way, their anger is a response to frustration as well. Copied from the web.
    A child that is especially defiant may be behaving this way to counteract dependency and fears of loss. A child who feels hurt by a loss may become angry as a way to avoid feeling sad and powerless. Sometimes a child's anger prompts an adult to set rules more clearly, explain matters more thoroughly, or make changes in the child's environment. In other words, a child may have learned that anger is an all-purpose red flag to let others know that something is very wrong.

    It is important to remember that anger is not the same thing as aggression. Anger is a feeling, while aggression is a class of behaviors. Anger is a temporary emotional state caused by frustration; aggression is often an attempt to hurt a person or to destroy property.
Explain that anger is OK, aggression is not
    Dealing with a child's anger requires first finding out what they feel. Ask them what's happened, what went wrong, or why they are feeling what they feel. They may be able to tell you very clearly. On the other hand, they may need your help to label their feelings. A parent might respond to a child who hits his brother by asking why he hit him. Go beyond the "he did this first" argument and ask where they learned to hit to tell other people to stop doing something. Maybe other kids at school hit, and the child is learning to do the same. Copied from the web.
    Explain that anger is OK (i.e., "I know how you feel, it makes me mad when other people borrow my thing and don't ask too"). However, explain that aggression (hitting his brother) is not ok. Offer other ways to express his anger. A parent might say something like, "Here's what I do when I get mad."
    Don't just tell your child what not to do; tell them what they should do too. "Don't hit your brother when you're mad. Tell me about what happened, or tell him to give your toys back, or warn him you'll tell me."
    Some parents want to punish anger because they don't like aggression. Contrary to popular opinion, punishment is not the most effective way to communicate to children what we expect of them. Explaining, modeling, and setting rules is. Expect that your child will break a rule three or four times. This is how they learn which rules are serious ones, which ones you will enforce, and which ones can be broken under certain circumstances. Breaking rules often isn't done in anger, but is a way of learning. Copied from the web.

8 Tips for Angry Children

Responding to the Angry Child
    Some of the following suggestions for dealing with the angry child were taken from The Aggressive Child by Fritz Redl and David Wineman. They should be considered helpful ideas and not be seen as a "bag of tricks."

1) Comment on your child's behaviour when it is good.

    Something like, "I like the way you handled your brother when he took your stuff." An observant and involved parent can find dozens of things they like about their child's behaviour..."I like the way you come in for dinner without being reminded"; "I appreciate your hanging up your clothes even though you were in a hurry to get out to play"; "You were really patient while I was on the phone"; "I'm glad you shared your snack with your sister"; "I like the way you're able to think of others"; and "Thank you for telling the truth about what really happened." Copied from the web.
    Teachers can do the same, offering, "I know it was difficult for you to wait your turn, and I'm pleased that you could do it"; "Thanks for sitting in your seat quietly"; "You were thoughtful in offering to help Johnny with his spelling"; "You worked hard on that project, and I admire your effort."
    Ignore inappropriate behaviour that you can tolerate. Nagging you while you're on the phone can be dealt with by praising what you liked ("Thank you for waiting while I was talking on the phone. I'm off the phone now, so what's up?") and ignoring what you don't like (ignoring a child's requests while you are on the phone). You may be thinking, "You don't know what they do then. Then they yell louder and   you have to answer them just to have some quiet." When you respond this way, you reinforce them for yelling. Yelling gets your attention, so next time they will yell louder to make sure you respond.
    Say "NO!" as needed. Limits should be explained clearly and enforced consistently. Don't say "no" all the time though. Be sure to say yes when it is appropriate and point out why that moment is appropriate. Copied from the web.

2) Provide physical outlets and exercise, both at home and at school.

     We may kick a trash can, cut wood, or do something that lets us slam things around (like clean the kitchen). Kids need physical activity to let off steam too. Keep in mind that you can allow this without risking your safety or the child's. Let them stomp and kick a trash can in their room, but not in the living room.
    Also keep in mind that hugs can often make strong emotions less difficult for a child. You don't hug to make the anger go away though; hug to let the child know you understand their anger and that you take it seriously.

3) Take an interest in your child's activities.

    Attention and pride can often make negative emotions easier to deal with. Failures and frustrations often mean less when a child knows their parent loves them and is proud of them for others things they do and know. Encourage children to see their strengths as well as their weaknesses. Help them to see that they can reach their goals. Make failure and setbacks part and parcel of life. Sometimes children do aggressive or destructive things to force an adult to get involved and pay attention. Older children may have angry outbursts when frustrated by difficult tasks, like studying. Parents can move in, offer help, and praise the older child for their efforts.

4) Use humor.

     Teasing or kidding can often defuse an angry situation and allow a child to "save face." Don't use humor to ridicule your child; use it to make fun of the situation. Something like, "I know you are mad at that little girl for calling you names. Especially such stupid names. She must not be very smart if the meanest thing she knows how to say is "dumb butt."

5) When situations change, tell the child directly.

     "I know that noise you're making doesn't usually bother me, but today I've got a headache, so could you find something else you'd enjoy doing that's a little quieter?" When your headache is gone, let them know they can go back to what they were doing before.

6) Use physical restraint if needed.

     Sometimes a child can't stop himself or herself once a tantrum has begun. Physically removing the child from the scene or intervening isn't a type of punishment; it's a way to help your child stop their behavior long enough to gain some control over it.

7) Use bargaining as needed.

     We often control our own behavior by doing this. "After a day like this, I deserve a really good meal" may help us curb our own temper when needed. This is not the same as bribery or blackmail. Know what your child likes and what is important enough to your child to serve as a good motivator to manage their anger.

Helping Children Deal With Their Anger
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Anger is like the mercury in a thermometer. When left unchecked the intensity of the emotion increases from frustration to anger and then to other things like rage and bitterness. As the intensity builds, people shut themselves off from others and relationships close down. Having a plan to deal with anger can limit the intensity and prevent much of the destruction anger tends to cause.
Most families don’t have a plan for anger. They somehow just continue on, hoping things will get better. Many families don’t resolve their anger, but just keep trying to start over. Starting over may be helpful at times, but it tends to ignore the problem rather than address it. Here are some ideas for dealing with anger in your family.
1. Anger is good for identifying problems but not good for solving them.
One of the problems people face is the guilt they feel after they’ve gotten angry. This further complicates the situation. God created us as emotional beings and emotions are helpful for giving us cues about our environment. Anger, in particular, points out problems. It reveals things that are wrong. Some of those things are inside of us and require adjustments to expectations or demands. Other problems are outside of us and need to be addressed in a constructive way. Helping children understand that anger is good for identifying problems but not good for solving them is the first step toward a healthy anger management plan.
2. Identify the early warning signs of anger.
Children often don’t recognize anger. In fact, many times they act out before they realize what happened. Identifying early warning signs helps children become more aware of their feelings, which in turn gives them more opportunity to control their responses to these feelings.  How can you tell when you’re getting frustrated? How can your children identify frustration before it gets out of control?
Here are some common cues in children which indicate that they are becoming angry and may be  about to lose control:
• tensed body
• clenched teeth
• increased intensity of speech or behavior
• unkind words or the tone of voice changes to whining or yelling
• restlessness, withdrawal, unresponsiveness, or being easily provoked
• noises with the mouth like growls or deep breathing
• pouting
• squinting, rolling the eyes, or other facial expressions
Learn to recognize the cues that your child is beginning to get frustrated. Look for signs that come before the eruption. Once you know the cues, begin to point them out to your child. Make observations and teach your child to recognize those signs. Eventually children will be able to see their own frustration and anger and choose appropriate responses before it’s too late. They’ll be able to move from the emotion to the right actions, but first they must be able to recognize the cues that anger is intensifying.
3. Step Back.
Teach your child to take a break from the difficult situation and to get alone for a few minutes. One of the healthiest responses to anger at any of its stages is to step back. During that time the child can rethink the situation, calm down and determine what to do next. Frustrations can easily build, rage can be destructive, and bitterness is always damaging to the one who is angry. Stepping back can help the child stop the progression and determine to respond differently.
The size of the break is determined by the intensity of the emotion. A child who is simply frustrated may just take a deep breath. The child who is enraged probably needs to leave the room and settle down.
4. Choose a better response.
After the child has stepped back and settled down, then it’s time to decide on a more appropriate response to the situation. But what should they do? Parents who address anger in their children often respond negatively, pointing out the wrong without suggesting alternatives.
There are three positive choices: talk about it, get help, or slow down and persevere. Simplifying the choices makes the decision process easier. Even young children can learn to respond constructively to frustration when they know there are three choices.  These choices are actually skills to be learned. Children often misuse them or overly rely on just one. Take time to teach your children these skills and practice them as responses to angry feelings.
5. Never try to reason with a child who is enraged.
Sometimes children become enraged. The primary way to tell when children are enraged is that they can no longer think rationally and their anger is now controlling them. Unfortunately, many parents try to talk their children out of anger, often leading to more intensity. The child who is enraged has lost control. You may see clenched fists, squinting eyes or a host of venting behaviors. Anger is one of those emotions that can grab you before you know what’s happening. The intensity can build from frustration to anger to rage before anyone realizes it.
Whether it’s the two-year-old temper tantrum or the 14 year-old ranting and raving, don’t get sucked into dialog. It only escalates the problem. Talking about it is important but wait until after the child has settled down.
6. When emotions get out of control, take a break from the dialog.
Sometimes parents and children are having a discussion about something and tempers flare. Mean words often push buttons which motivate more mean words and anger escalates. Stop the process, take a break and resume the dialog after people have settled down.
7. Be proactive in teaching children about  frustration management, anger control, rage reduction and releasing bitterness.
Model, discuss, read and teach your children about anger. There are several good books on this subject available, which are written for children at various age levels. Talk about examples of frustration and anger seen in children's videos. Talk about appropriate responses. Work together as a family to identify anger and choose constructive solutions.
8. When anger problems seem out of control or you just don’t know what to do, get help.
Sometimes a third party can provide the helpful suggestions and guidelines to motivate your family to deal with anger in a more helpful way. Children can begin to develop bitterness and resentment in their lives and may need help to deal with it. Unresolved anger can create problems in relationships later on. Children do not grow out of bitterness, they grow into it. Professional help may be needed.
This material is taken from chapter 5 of the book, Home Improvement, The Parenting Book You Can Read to Your Kids . The book also contains other ideas which will help your children learn to control their anger and practical ways that you as a parent can teach them. A CD entitled, Helping Children Deal with Anger is also available. You can play this CD with children to develop an anger management plan together as a family.


Managing and Coping with the Angry Child
Coping with the angry child
When children feel inadequate to cope with a situation, when they don't even know what the reality of the situation requires them to do, it frustrates them, it makes them very angry. Then, they will do something that does not need to be done--mischief. Mischief is self indulgent, counter-productive and ultimately self destructive. If it is not managed properly it does not get better, it gets worse. It escalates until you can't stand it any longer and explode. Mischief ranges from talking back to parents to setting the house on fire. It covers everything that does not need to be done.

Children who feel inadequate to cope do not respect themselves or others
They hold themselves in contempt and behave accordingly. We may think that their behavior is illogical, but it is not. They have their own logic, "I am worthless and stupid, worthless and stupid things deserve to be destroyed, therefore, I deserve to be destroyed/punished". This is the logic of self-destructive misbehavior. Their misbehavior and mischief is their way of bringing about the punishment and destruction that they feel they deserve. The child's negative behavior always has a hidden purpose underneath it. To effectively manage and cope with the child's anger, and the misbehavior associated with it, you must be able to identify the underlying purpose and the goals of negative behavior. After you have identified the negative purpose or goal of the child's behavior, you are in a position to do something constructive about it and learn how to emotionally disengage from his provocative behavior.

The problem is not the child's anger
The problem is the mismanagement of the anger. Mischief and misbehavior CAN be a problem, but it is also an opportunity to teach responsibility and anger management skills to the child. There are two very effective ways to do this. Give them choices, and give them personal examples.
Responsibility = Choices + Consequences
Responsibility is learned by making choices and then accepting the outcome and consequences of those choices and decisions. Therefore, the most essential condition that we must create for our children is to provide them with the freedom to make choices and the awareness of the logical consequences thereof.

Of course, we must exercise appropriate discrimination when creating these conditions to teach responsibility to our children. Read Coping With the Angry Student/ Child resource manual for examples of anger management activities for students and children.

Personal Example
Example is not only the best way to teach character and anger management to our children, it is the ONLY way to teach it! As parents, teachers, counselors or education professionals, we must model appropriate behavior to our students/children. It is the way you, as a parent or teacher, are managing your anger problems and frustration that provide children with the best means of handling their own anger and frustration. Therefore, we must-as a precondition- learn how to effectively and appropriately manage our own anger and then, model these skills for our students/children. Example is always the best teacher.

As parents, teachers, counselors or education professionals, we must model appropriately. Learn how to understand children's actions.

Helping Young Children Deal with Anger

Children's anger presents challenges to teachers committed to constructive, ethical, and effective child guidance. This Digest explores what we know about the components of children's anger, factors contributing to understanding and managing anger, and the ways teachers can guide children's expressions of anger.

Three Components of Anger

Anger is believed to have three components (Lewis & Michalson, 1983):

The Emotional State of Anger. The first component is the emotion itself, defined as an affective or arousal state, or a feeling experienced when a goal is blocked or needs are frustrated. Fabes and Eisenberg (1992) describe several types of stress-producing anger provocations that young children face daily in classroom interactions:

Conflict over possessions, which involves someone taking children's property or invading their space.
Physical assault, which involves one child doing something to another child, such as pushing or hitting.
Verbal conflict, for example, a tease or a taunt.
Rejection, which involves a child being ignored or not allowed to play with peers.
Issues of compliance, which often involve asking or insisting that children do something that they do not want to do--for instance, wash their hands.

Expression of Anger. The second component of anger is its expression. Some children vent or express anger through facial expressions, crying, sulking, or talking, but do little to try to solve a problem or confront the provocateur. Others actively resist by physically or verbally defending their positions, self-esteem, or possessions in nonaggressive ways. Still other children express anger with aggressive revenge by physically or verbally retaliating against the provocateur. Some children express dislike by telling the offender that he or she cannot play or is not liked. Other children express anger through avoidance or attempts to escape from or evade the provocateur. And some children use adult seeking, looking for comfort or solutions from a teacher, or telling the teacher about an incident.

Teachers can use child guidance strategies to help children express angry feelings in socially constructive ways. Children develop ideas about how to express emotions (Michalson & Lewis, 1985; Russel, 1989) primarily through social interaction in their families and later by watching television or movies, playing video games, and reading books (Honig & Wittmer, 1992). Some children have learned a negative, aggressive approach to expressing anger (Cummings, 1987; Hennessy et al., 1994) and, when confronted with everyday anger conflicts, resort to using aggression in the classroom (Huesmann, 1988). A major challenge for early childhood teachers is to encourage children to acknowledge angry feelings and to help them learn to express anger in positive and effective ways.

An Understanding of Anger. The third component of the anger experience is understanding--interpreting and evaluating--the emotion. Because the ability to regulate the expression of anger is linked to an understanding of the emotion (Zeman & Shipman, 1996), and because children's ability to reflect on their anger is somewhat limited, children need guidance from teachers and parents in understanding and managing their feelings of anger.

Understanding and Managing Anger

The development of basic cognitive processes undergirds children's gradual development of the understanding of anger (Lewis & Saarni, 1985).

Memory. Memory improves substantially during early childhood (Perlmutter, 1986), enabling young children to better remember aspects of anger-arousing interactions. Children who have developed unhelpful ideas of how to express anger (Miller & Sperry, 1987) may retrieve the early unhelpful strategy even after teachers help them gain a more helpful perspective. This finding implies that teachers may have to remind some children, sometimes more than once or twice, about the less aggressive ways of expressing anger.

Language. Talking about emotions helps young children understand their feelings (Brown & Dunn, 1996). The understanding of emotion in preschool children is predicted by overall language ability (Denham, Zoller, & Couchoud, 1994). Teachers can expect individual differences in the ability to identify and label angry feelings because children's families model a variety of approaches in talking about emotions.

Self-Referential and Self-Regulatory Behaviors.Self-referential behaviors include viewing the self as separate from others and as an active, independent, causal agent. Self-regulation refers to controlling impulses, tolerating frustration, and postponing immediate gratification. Initial self-regulation in young children provides a base for early childhood teachers who can develop strategies to nurture children's emerging ability to regulate the expression of anger.

Guiding Children's Expressions of Anger

Teachers can help children deal with anger by guiding their understanding and management of this emotion. The practices described here can help children understand and manage angry feelings in a direct and nonaggressive way.

Create a Safe Emotional Climate. A healthy early childhood setting permits children to acknowledge all feelings, pleasant and unpleasant, and does not shame anger. Healthy classroom systems have clear, firm, and flexible boundaries.

Model Responsible Anger Management. Children have an impaired ability to understand emotion when adults show a lot of anger (Denham, Zoller, & Couchoud, 1994). Adults who are most effective in helping children manage anger model responsible management by acknowledging, accepting, and taking responsibility for their own angry feelings and by expressing anger in direct and nonaggressive ways.

Help Children Develop Self-Regulatory Skills. Teachers of infants and toddlers do a lot of self-regulation "work," realizing that the children in their care have a very limited ability to regulate their own emotions. As children get older, adults can gradually transfer control of the self to children, so that they can develop self-regulatory skills.

Encourage Children to Label Feelings of Anger. Teachers and parents can help young children produce a label for their anger by teaching them that they are having a feeling and that they can use a word to describe their angry feeling. A permanent record (a book or chart) can be made of lists of labels for anger (e.g., mad, irritated, annoyed), and the class can refer to it when discussing angry feelings.

Encourage Children to Talk About Anger-Arousing Interactions. Preschool children better understand anger and other emotions when adults explain emotions (Denham, Zoller, &Couchoud, 1994). When children are embroiled in an anger-arousing interaction, teachers can help by listening without judging,evaluating, or ordering them to feel differently.

Use Books and Stories about Anger to Help Children Understand and Manage Anger. Well-presented stories about anger and other emotions validate children's feelings and give information about anger (Jalongo, 1986; Marion, 1995). It is important to preview all books about anger because some stories teach irresponsible anger management.

Communicate with Parents. Some of the same strategies employed to talk with parents about other areas of the curriculum can be used to enlist their assistance in helping children learn to express emotions. For example, articles about learning to use words to label anger can be included in a newsletter to parents.

Children guided toward responsible anger management are more likely to understand and manage angry feelings directly and non aggressively and to avoid the stress often accompanying poor anger management (Eisenberg et al., 1991). Teachers can take some of the bumps out of understanding and managing anger by adopting positive guidance strategies.

Condensed by permission from Marian Marion, "Guiding Young Children's Understanding and Management of Anger," Young Children 52(7), 62-67. Copyright 1997 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.


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