5 Tips for Helping Children Practice Anger Management

First of all, let me be clear, there is NOTHING wrong with anger as a feeling. It’s an important part of any human being’s (regardless of age) emotional well-being. Anger helps us identify when something is wrong, when we or others are in danger. It generates chemicals to give us energy and confidence to address a situation that may need to be addressed.

Anger can cause problems, especially among children who are still developing emotions and learning their purpose and how to deal with them, when we react in destructive or self-defeating behaviors in response to the strong feelings. It can be difficult for anyone of any age and environment to respond appropriately and constructively to anger. For young children, it can be especially frustrating not only for the child but also for others in the child’s circle, particularly when children have not yet developed the vocabulary for identifying the feeling and reacting to it.

I’ve outlined five tips for helping children develop tools to better manage their anger so they may build their own set of coping skills, allowing them to better engage in the educational environment and embrace their feelings.

TIP#1 Understand how anger feels and accept that it’s okay to feel angry; it’s how you react that matters. Often, people are uncomfortable with anger, and adults may unintentionally teach children that feeling angry makes them bad. By helping them embrace their feelings, we can help children understand they may not have control over what they feel, but they can control their actions.

TIP#2 Identify other feelings that may be hiding behind anger. Anger is often a cover emotion. It protects us from experiencing hurtful feelings. Helping children to look behind the anger and find other emotions can help them find a solution to the root problem. For example, we often feel angry when someone makes us feel bad about ourselves. So the root problem is our own self-esteem. If we help them focus on building their self-esteem, anger is less likely to control them.

TIP#3 List anger triggers. When we understand what makes us angry, we are better prepared and not taken by surprise by the immediate, intense feeling. Understanding cause and effect for any emotion is a powerful way to embrace feelings as things that do not control us.

TIP#4 Identify ways to “chill out.” This could be different for different children. Some children chill out by being quiet and by themselves for a time (a time out). Some children may find that exercise diverts their feelings and distracts them. Some may find that talking with someone they trust will help them work through anger. Helping children build their “chilling out” toolbox will give them solutions that come to mind easily and quickly.

TIP#5 Pay attention to their own feelings when someone else is angry. Compassion is essential in having awareness of our own actions. When we see ourselves through others’ eyes, we can identify how our actions make others feel.

There are so many ways to help children discover on their own how to identify emotions and respond appropriately and with compassion for others. An activity book I created, Chill Out, can be a great resource for children in grades 2-6. It features fun and interesting ways to practice these tips with children utilizing art, writing, and self-reflective. 

It’s an interactive way to help children embrace feelings of anger and identify underlying emotions of fear, sadness, etc., and to help them navigate these feelings that allow them to discover they have control over their actions.

Here are some ways you might use this activity book with a student:

(*)  Send a book home with parents when they request help (this is one of the most effective ways to use them with students)

(*) After counseling session hand one to student and have them work in it independently

(*) Use it as part of your individual counseling sessions (do a couple pages each session)

(*) Print them and select certain pages to work with students or small groups

(*) Have them be a part of a whole class lesson (ie teach lesson about self-confidence then give each student their own book)

(*) After session with student have a folder where students complete five pages and then when next week’s session you discuss those five and he gets another five until he completes the entire book

To download Chill Out, visit my TpT Store HERE. In what ways do you help students take control of their anger?