How to Help Your Angry Child Calm Down

Angry children calm down with yoga self-regulation

Anger is a powerful emotion that’s hard to manage, but there are ways you can help your angry child calm down.

Everyone has a finite amount of self-control and we all get angry. When we feel stressed, we’re less able to cope with our emotions, which can lead to us feeling angry more quickly.

We can’t stop feeling angry. Suppressing it is damaging. What we can do is to teach children better ways to manage their feelings during these big emotions and calm themselves down. This is called “self-regulation”.

Self-regulation means:

  • Your child can recognise and explain how they feel.
  • They take action before an emotion becomes overwhelming.
  • They feel equipped with a toolkit of strategies to stay in control.

Children can grow up feeling guilt, embarrassment, and low-self-esteem because they can’t “control themselves” when they feel angry.

Instead of anger being seen as a bad emotion, you can help your child learn to self-regulate when they feel this way. It helps boost their self-esteem and makes them feel in control of difficult situations.

Why does my child feel angry?

Many things could make your child feel angry. You might notice they seem more angry at times of increased stress, changes in their life, or if they’re feeling worried about something.

Common reasons for feeling angry include:

Children can learn angry responses if they see family members acting this way. Showing them you can self-regulate your emotions gives them a positive example to follow. 

Child stays calm during game of chess

Emotions work on a scale

We don’t feel happy or sad, calm or angry. Our emotions exist on a sliding scale. 

Using a 1-10 emotion tracker can help your child verbalise how intensely they’re feeling an emotion. A one on the scale would mean they feel completely calm. Scoring ten is the most angry they could ever possibly feel. 

You could ask your child:

  • What number out of ten do you feel right now? Why is that?
  • What could make you feel an 8/10? 
  • How would you know that you’re feeling this way?

Using an emotion tracker helps them learn how their body feels when they are angry before they lose control. They can identify particular times and situations when they are more likely to feel angry and plan strategies to use when it happens. 

Calming down strategies

When your child is extremely angry, it’s already too late for them to calm down. You need to do something before it gets to that point. If you use an emotion scale, when they feel six or seven out of ten would be a good time to take action.

Teach your child a few calming down strategies they can use when they start to feel angry. Every child is different, so experiment to see what works best for them. Praise them whenever you see them using a calming down strategy.

Popular strategies for calming down include:

  • Slow deep breathing: There are some great ideas for breathing exercises here
  • A sport or exercise they can do at home, like football practise
  • Get outside for a walk or some fresh air
  • Distract themself with a calming activity or game
  • Have a drink or a healthy snack
  • Listen to music
  • Colouring and drawing

If your child feels the need to do something physical when they’re angry, find a safe way for them to release it. Punching a pillow, throwing a ball against a wall, or ripping something up (with permission) are all ways to let out feelings of anger without hurting anyone.

Young Minds have a useful parents’ guide for anger if you feel you may need some more support. 

Improve family communication

If you struggle with big outbursts when you talk to your child, check out our free Support Talk video series, called The Ask. It’s full of helpful ideas to help the whole family talk and listen to each other more effectively. Explore The Ask.

Looking for more help?

We run regular webinars and parenting classes if your child often seems to feel angry, or you struggle with their behaviour when they feel this way.

We’ll unpick the reasons behind their behaviour, understand why they get angry, and share lots of helpful strategies you can use at home. Browse our upcoming events.

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