Helping Children Cope with Anger

02 Dec

By Ana Nogales

Helping Children Cope with AngerOften even well-meaning parents don’t understand their child’s angry behavior.

Temper tantrums are normal for very young children, and lashing out with angry words is typical for adolescents. But what about threats or actions that go beyond predictable behavior?

What I too often see is that parents attempt to make excuses for their child, rather than dealing with or seeking help with their child’s violent outbursts. As a child’s anger escalates, some parents may try to placate him by giving in to his demands, or try to please him in an effort to calm him down. Some may rationalize that anger is a good thing and a child must be allowed to vent his anger and even behave wildly, because such behavior is an expression of how the child is feeling.

Of course, there is some truth to that way of thinking. Anger is not a bad thing, and we all have the right to be angry when we are treated unfairly. But children need to be educated about how to deal with and express their anger when someone makes them mad or something upsetting happens. Simply allowing a child’s instinctual responses to take over is not always a good idea, especially when their anger seems out of control. And merely telling children to “get over it” or “be nice” doesn’t teach them how to handle critical moments in their life. Teaching by example is always the most effective tool: showing your child that you can be upset about something without losing control; that you can talk about why you’re angry and then let it go. Parents can also teach children to:

• Talk to a trusted friend or relative about why you’re angry
• Take some time to cool down when faced with an upsetting incident
• Slowly count to ten when you feel yourself getting very angry
• Breathe deeply when you sense an angry outburst coming on

Some children have never been taught that there are limits to how one should express their anger. Sometimes parents have not provided a healthy model for handling anger or have not wanted to constrain their child in any way. Other children are clearly not in control of their behavior, even though their parents may have been good role models and set forth reasonable limits. In either case, there may be medical or neurological reasons for a child’s inability to control his anger. When parents’ efforts are ineffective in dealing with a child’s anger, a professional consultation is warranted. Medication might be necessary and can be prescribed by a child psychiatrist.

There is no diagnosis for angry behavior per se, but some of the conditions that involve uncontrollable anger are: bipolar disorder, oppositional disorder, and child antisocial behavior. Regardless of the label we place on a child’s behavior, it is crucial for parents to realize that when their son’s or daughter’s anger is out of control, he or she needs to be treated by a professional. When the warning signs of uncontrollable anger go unheeded, a child’s emotional flare-ups can spiral into violence resulting in tragedy-as in the recent case of a ten-year-old boy charged with murder for fatally stabbing his twelve-year-old best friend.

Believing that a child’s anger is “just a phase” that he or she will eventually outgrow is to deny what could be a serious problem. Before uncontrollable angry behavior escalates to a point of no return, parents can confront it and get the professional help they need. Article Source

Popular Related Continuing Education Courses:

Children with difficult temperaments and those with developmental delays may have learned to express their dissatisfaction with challenging and defiant behavior like whining, anger, temper tantrums or bad language. They sometimes engage in negative behavior or “misbehave” because they do not have the necessary skills – communicative or otherwise – to make their needs known. The purpose of this course is to teach clinicians effective and practical strategies to manage challenging and defiant behavior in their young clients. The course will also focus on how clinicians can educate parents on how to manage difficult behavior and avoid power struggles at home. The dynamics and techniques described in this course are intended for use with typically functioning children and those with developmental or language delays. They are not generally adequate or even appropriate for children with serious behavior conditions like oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorders.


It has long been observed that there are certain children who experience better outcomes than others who are subjected to similar adversities, and a significant amount of literature has been devoted to the question of why this disparity exists. Research has largely focused on what has been termed “resilience.” Health professionals are treating an increasing number of children who have difficulty coping with 21st century everyday life. Issues that are hard to deal with include excessive pressure to succeed in school, bullying, divorce, or even abuse at home. This course provides a working definition of resilience and descriptions of the characteristics that may be associated with better outcomes for children who confront adversity in their lives. It also identifies particular groups of children – most notably those with developmental challenges and learning disabilities – who are most likely to benefit from resilience training. The bulk of the course – presented in two sections – offers a wide variety of resilience interventions that can be used in therapy, school, and home settings.


Parents, teachers, and other adults often complain that their children do not listen to them. In fact, failure to listen is a common occurrence among all children, at least some of the time. When it becomes a chronic condition, that is, when a child rarely or never listens to adults, it becomes clinically worrisome because the safety and well-being of the child can be at risk. The failure to develop good listening skills is also a threat to a child’s learning processes. It is difficult to comprehend and follow directions if one is not listening. Furthermore, children who do not listen are likely to have difficulties in their relationships with both adults and peers. This course will teach clinicians effective and practical strategies for helping children learn to listen so they can better counsel their client’s parents and caregivers in the use of these skills. By implementing the techniques presented here, parents and other adults can teach children to listen, thereby decreasing the occurrence of power struggles and frustration. Children can then move on to other important social and educational developmental tasks.


This course zeros in on the youngster who may damage property, defy authority, steal, lie, torment peers, manipulate and hurt others, disrupt classrooms, make threats, and break laws and rules. In the extreme, some of these youth may even engage in fire setting, sexual assault, or school violence. Anti-social youth and conduct disorders are among the hardest-to-manage youngsters. The conventional methods that work with other youngsters usually fail with this population. For this reason, many youth professionals become profoundly discouraged and frustrated, feeling that there is nothing that they can do to successfully manage this type of out-of-control youngster. The methods offered in this course are intended to be the tailored tools that you need to manage and help anti-social and conduct disordered youth and children.

These courses are offered by Professional Development Resources, a non-profit provider of online continuing education resources for healthcare professionals. Professional Development Resources is approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA Provider #AAUM); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).


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