How to Act When Your Child is Angry

When your child is angry, you need to know that their emotion hides a message. If you're patient enough, you'll be able to decipher it.
How to Act When Your Child is Angry
Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 30 March, 2023

Temper tantrums are very dreaded moments for parents throughout the upbringing of their children. These are those fits of anger and anguish that can appear at any time: When we say no to something, when they’re sleepy but don’t want to go to sleep yet, or in the middle of the supermarket. Sometimes, the situation seems overwhelming and impossible to resolve, but there are some tips to keep in mind when your child is angry. In the following article, we’ll share some of them.

About your child’s anger and your own

It’s important to start looking at anger in a positive way, as it’s an expected and healthy emotion. It’s best to ask yourself what’s going on, instead of getting angry with your child. You need to recognize that they’re having a hard time expressing and managing their emotions and that you’re on their side in this adventure of learning to control themself.

When they’re younger, sometimes they can’t understand what’s happening to them and, therefore, are unable to solve it! Of course, no one can deny that sometimes it’s difficult not to collapse. Behind parenting, there are endless responsibilities and obligations: Home, work, and family, among others.

When that happens, try not to judge yourself, but ask yourself what prevented you from slowing down before. Try to exercise self-knowledge and explore your inner emotional states. This way, you’ll also know what’s upsetting you and it’ll be easier for you to think of a solution or a more appropriate coping strategy.

Discover these keys to help you act when your child is angry

Here are some keys to keep in mind if your child is angry.

A father and son are having an argument.
The appearance of anger is an opportunity for learning and discovery, both for the child and for the adult. This way, we can know what’s bothering us and how to solve it.

1. Start by calming yourself down

Remember that, as an adult, you’re the child’s main role model. Therefore, it’s best to breathe and try to talk calmly. You can also use what you’re feeling as an opportunity to teach your child. For example, you can tell your child that you’re angry or that you feel your face is starting to turn red. In this way, through your emotions, you can help them identify their own.

2. Practice relaxation techniques with your child

One of the most common relaxation techniques is breathing. But you can also choose one depending on what’s good for your child. For example, when they’re angry, they can sing a song and avoid slamming the door or talking back.

3. Teach your child to identify situations that make them angry

You can help your child recognize those signs that anticipate what’s coming if they don’t slow down first. For example, if they know that feeling hungry makes them cranky, you can advise them not to go for so many hours without eating.

4. Help them find solutions

It’s important to help children think about how to solve their anger  differently. Consider the following example: Your child’s angry because they can’t sleep over at their grandmother’s house. How can you act?

  • Validate their feelings: “I understand that you want to stay over because it’s so much fun to play with Grandma”.
  • Explain why: “She has her friend’s birthday tonight”.
  • Brainstorm a solution together: “How about tonight we watch a movie at home and you can ask Grandma to invite you over another time?

5. Use stories or other educational resources

For example, through stories, children can identify with certain characters and empathize with them. This way, they can put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist of the story and reflect on how bad someone else may feel when they’re mistreated.

A woman reading a story to a little boy and girl.
Reading stories to children can help them better identify their emotions through the characters. You can even accompany this activity with questions to help them think about how to act, what was right, and what was wrong.

6. Ask them what they need

Making yourself available to your child is fundamental. For example, you can ask these questions: What can I do for you? What would make you feel better? In addition, a hug or hand-holding can help them slowly regain their calm and feel safe.

7. Avoid teasing

Imitating their crying or using derogatory phrases such as “you look like a baby” is harmful to little ones. You should also avoid threatening phrases such as “if you keep crying, I won’t love you anymore”.

Avoid idealizing and demonizing emotions

In our society, there are certain prejudices about emotions. Joy is expected and applauded, while sadness or anger is shunned. However, emotions have an adaptive aspect in people’s lives. They serve as tools to help process situations, enable self-awareness, and prepare for a response to certain events.

Putting a blindfold over your eyes to avoid feeling certain emotions prevents you from connecting with your whole self and even with your loved ones. It leads you to deny your feelings, which, even if you avoid them, will end up presenting themself in some way or another. Remember that the educational style you apply with your children also influences the way they see and live their life.

Think the same in regard to your children: Try to educate them with emotional diversity, from the complex and contradictory range of emotions: Feeling good and bad at the same time, feeling happy for others, but also feeling “little”. We must accept that there are emotions that make us feel and those that make us feel bad and transmit the same to our little ones. This will help to develop a healthier and stronger emotional intelligence.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Aguaded, Maria. (2017). Estrategias para potenciar la inteligencia emocional en educación infantil: aplicación del modelo de Mayer y Salovey / STRATEGIES TO ENHANCE EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: APPLICATION OF MAYER AND SALOVEY. Tendencias pedagógicas. 30. 10.15366/tp2017.30.010.
  • LÓPEZ CASSÀ, È., (2005). La educación emocional en la educación infantil. Revista Interuniversitaria de Formación del Profesorado, 19(3),153-167.[fecha de Consulta 22 de Marzo de 2023]. ISSN: 0213-8646. Recuperado de:

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.