How to Help Your Child When They're Angry

Sometimes it's difficult to manage children's emotions. We propose some steps to follow to help your child when they're angry.
How to Help Your Child When They're Angry

Last update: 16 April, 2022

One of the most complicated things in your role as a mom is helping your child when they’re angry. They may not know how to handle the situation, and may lose control of their behavior.

The problem isn’t that your child is angry, but the tantrums or negative behaviors that result from that emotion. It’s important to remember that a child always needs limits that give order to their life. If you don’t provide this order, you’ll face situations of bad behavior or overly pampered children. Here are some steps to follow to help your child when they’re angry.

How to help your child when they’re angry

An angry child may respond to stimuli such as hunger, sleep, confusion, stress, or distress. Let’s discard these conditions, and based on the control of the situation, face their occasional tantrums with patience, serenity, and firmness.

1. Control your reactions

Staying in control when your child is angry shows them that you’re in charge and that they need to calm down. Many parents complain of not having control over their children. What they don’t see is that they lost it when they let their children feel superior.

Even if your child is throwing their worst tantrum and you’re on edge, don’t play their game. It’s not a situation they create on purpose. If you let yourself go, you’ll teach them that their tantrums take you out of the role of mother or father.

During these situations, don’t yell, don’t get angry, and don’t act rashly. Forget about canceling permissions given previously or indulging them with a treat in order to calm them down.

2. Don’t try to reason with your child when they’re angry or in the middle of a tantrum

A child sitting in bed looking angry.

Right when they’re in the middle of this situation, don’t try to calm them down rashly. Just think that if an adult finds it difficult to control themself when they’re angry, it’ll be even more difficult for a child.

This is the most complex part of dealing with an angry child. Wait for the tension to subside with a little time. Later, you can talk about their behavior and try to reason with them.

3. Avoid calling out your angry child

Many parents, especially new ones, seek to control their angry children by scolding them. Don’t do it! Take into account that their anger comes because they feel that they’ve lost control. When you scold them, they feel like they’re losing it even more.

The best way to reassure them is to remain calm. Avoid increasing their tension by remembering the situation that upset them.

4. Don’t let the situation get physical

When your child is angry, many situations can get out of control. At all times, you must remember that you’re the adult in charge. Allowing the situation to escalate into something physical is the last thing you should do.

Keep in mind that any kind of hitting or physical aggression will only upset your child more. Once you get to this point, the damage caused isn’t fixed with a simple “sorry”. Your child’s trust in you may be affected.

Remember that if you make the situation physical, you’re teaching them that this is a way to solve problems.

5. Let them take a breath

A toddler crying.

An angry child won’t appreciate you talking to them and insisting that they’ve done something wrong. It’s better to give them space and time to calm down.

Allow them to do any activity that calms them down. When they’re calm, listen to them to understand the reason for their anger. Then explain to them that it’s okay to be angry, but that their actions were wrong.

6. Don’t freeze

Some parents, especially new moms and dads, freeze when their child is angry. They don’t know how to react to yelling, complaining, and tantrums. At this point, it’s important that you stand firm.

For example, if your child is upset because you didn’t buy them a toy, you shouldn’t change your position. Doing so will only serve to show them that one tantrum is enough to get them what they want.

If you’re walking down the street and they suddenly drop to the ground, firmly and safely tell them to continue. If they insist, tell them that the decision you’ve made isn’t negotiable and that they must continue.

If your little one decides not to obey, try taking a few steps. Seeing that you won’t give in, they’ll understand that you’re in control and they’ll follow you.

7. Create rules and stick to them

It’s very beneficial for your child to know the tasks and responsibilities that correspond to them, especially if they’re been planned and carried out by consensus. They’ll be present, and in any case, you’ll be refreshing them from time to time.

Now, it’s essential that we make the effort to comply with these rules and enforce them. Suggesting, persuading, and convincing are part of sophisticated communication mechanisms that, based on language, give foundation to emotional intelligence.

“The family, considered as the basic context of human development, is the one who has the socializing action of boys or girls in the first instance; through modeling and the type of communication that is established within it, it seeks to carry out the scope of behavioral goals and patterns linked by two actions: Control and affection.”

Henao, G., & Garcia, M.

On the other hand, try to make visible a kind of code of coexistence, consolidated by daily experience, with rules regarding things like:

  • Knocking on doors
  • Yelling
  • Mobile devices on the dining table
  • The TV in the children’s rooms
  • Naps and bedtime schedules…

…among many other things. Of course, the rules set will vary for each family.

8. Release adrenaline

Make a list of options for releasing energy, much of which is contained in anger. To help your angry child, invite them to exercise, jump, or run; or better, to dance. The idea is for the anger to be drained and channeled in another direction.

Body expression will help relieve tensions as music and movement have immense therapeutic value. Walking, jumping, running, or throwing express sensations and emotions, which are nothing more than interactions caused by objective and subjective factors with a neuro-hormonal response. It’s up to us parents to channel and redirect. Corporal Expression increases psychological and bodily well-being by experiencing the pleasure of expressive movement.

9. Physical and sports activities

Given the proven effectiveness of physical activity, guide your little one to enroll and participate in sports teams in your community. In addition to exercise, group discipline will help them control their emotions. Following the instructions of coaches and instructors puts their ability to accept and comply with guidelines to the test in a playful climate in which all the children encourage each other to work together and do their best to win.

10. Make sure they get enough sleep

When your child hasn’t slept, their spirits will suffer. This will also have a negative influence on their school performance. They’ll have attention deficit and hyperactivity and will modify their social relationships with frequent episodes of irritability and sudden mood swings.

Don’t neglect their hours of sleep and make sure that the hours of rest adjust to the circadian rhythm.

11. Learn to name emotions

Many things are understood once they have a name, but the hard part is learning to name emotions. Adults are often speechless when asked what’s happening to us simply because we don’t know, and to explain it, we resort to detours until we find something that resembles what we feel.

The same thing happens in children, with the aggravating circumstance that they’re beginning to know their emotions. Let’s accompany them on this adventure that is cognitive and sentimental.

This is precisely what’s known as emotional intelligence, the ability to recognize our feelings, and those of others, and properly manage relationships with others and ourselves.

And as Judit Aresté says “children feel a lot, with great frequency and intensity. Our task is to help recognize these emotions, analyze them and regulate them to give them the optimal intensity and importance in each specific situation of the child’s life. That is, help the child to be able to self-regulate in every situation”.

12. Recognize achievements

Children demand attention and they need it to feel loved and protected. One way to get attention is by making yourself feel strong. Their screams and anger are a way of saying that they’re present and that they must be heard.

To redirect this potential and help your child when they’re angry, offer them alternatives so that their nature and their being can express themselves creatively. Drawing, singing, and dancing are playful forms. Praise and encourage them.

Another alternative, with the bonus of cultivating their spirit of collaboration, is to organize days of order and cleaning at home, with specific and appropriate tasks for each person. The assessment and encouragement to achieve can’t be lacking.

13. Be flexible and firm

Maturity is a process of adaptation, of understanding limits and capabilities. Assuming parenting with maturity is accepting that your child is growing up and learning to interact with their environment.

It’s accepting that the world is complex and reality imposes itself with its schedules, responsibilities, and duties. Little by little, the child will realize this, especially if we know how to transmit it to them without overwhelming them.

Now, based on these pressures, it’s important that the agreed guidelines, schedules, and dynamics are subject to change. That way, your child understands that despite the unforeseen, a plan is followed that will guarantee the harmony and well-being of the family.

Finally…

According to the principles of positive parenting, helping your child when they’re angry involves:

  • Promoting an educational environment structured in routines and habits, through which norms and values are transmitted in a flexible way
  • Promoting stimulation, support, and learning opportunities
  • Acknowledging your child’s achievements and abilities

Learning to deal with anger isn’t easy at any age. Apply these strategies and you’ll see that your child learns to follow the rules, and you’ll raise a responsible adult.

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