Parenting Tips for Angry Children [Practical & Effective Even for Toddlers]

You still remember when your child was a sweet-faced, good-natured toddler. Since entering childhood, it seems like any little thing will set them off. For the sake of the rest of your family, you don’t want to bore the brunt of your child’s anger anymore. How can you parent them through these emotional ups and downs?

To parent angry children, you have to help your child understand where their anger is coming from and train them to control it. Be sure that they’re surrounded by many examples of positive behavior as well, from the way you and the rest of the family act to the programs they watch on television or on their phone. 

After compiling some research, here are 6 best tips for parenting an angry child:

  • Don’t quiet their temper tantrums with rewards
  • Teach your child anger management techniques
  • Model good conflict resolution
  • Monitor their entertainment consumption
  • Create a calming corner
  • Be consistent with rules and punishment

1. Don’t Quiet Their Temper Tantrums with Rewards

It’s happened to every parent at least once. You’re at the grocery store in the middle of a crowded aisle. Your child sees their favorite candy or sugary cereal and asks you to add it to the cart. Yet you don’t want to buy it, maybe because you have other cereal at home or you’re trying to help your child eat better.

Then it happens. Your child starts bawling their eyes out. Maybe they even drop down to the floor and pound their fists on the ground. You can feel the eyes of every shopper in the aisle turn towards you, so you appease your child and buy them the cereal or candy.

The problem with giving in to your child’s tantrums is that you’re setting a bad precedent. You’re teaching your child that if they have a big enough outburst that they’ll get whatever they want. This can worsen the behavior. 

Instead of only having tantrums at the grocery store or the toy store, your child might start to cry at the doctor’s office when they don’t want a checkup. When you take the family out to eat, your child could have a meltdown until you let them order that big sundae for dessert.

The next time your child has a tantrum, as embarrassing as it might be, you have to ignore it. Yes, that’s even if your child gets down on the floor and is red in the face from crying. What they’ll realize is that this tactic no longer works, so they’ll stop throwing quite as many tantrums.

2. Teach Your Child Anger Management Techniques

Anger management might not seem like a skill that a person needs until young adulthood, but that’s simply not true. We’re capable of feeling anger at about any age, as your child has more than proven. By giving them the tools to control that anger, it might come out less at home and at school.

If your son or daughter doesn’t know how to verbalize their feelings, that’s something you need to teach them. Sometimes kids will react physically because they can’t express how they’re feeling any other way. 

Make sure that your child knows the words “disappointment,” “frustration,” and “anger” and can associate feelings that match these emotions. With time, your child can tell you that they’re feeling disappointed rather than throw their crayons all over the room to express that.  

When your child has an angry outburst, offer suggestions on coping with their emotions. For example, you might ask your child what they could do instead of throwing things or hitting their sibling.

If they can’t come up with a better coping solution themselves, then you can provide it for them. You might tell them to use their words or walk away and take a few deep breaths, then come back to the situation. 

What some parents do is use an anger thermometer, especially if other conflict resolution techniques haven’t worked. An anger thermometer is a thermometer that you draw on paper. Label the thermometer with numbers 0 through 5. Then assign values to each number.

0 might mean your child isn’t angry while a 2 means your child is somewhat angry, 4 means they’re very angry, and 5 means they’re going to explode. Ask your child to choose a value on the anger thermometer that matches their mood. 

This puts your child in touch with their emotions so they can identify their anger while they’re feeling it. Better understanding their anger can be monumental in helping your child eventually manage it.

3. Model Good Conflict Resolution

Children are like blank slates. When they learn bad behavior, it has to have come from somewhere. Before you blame the school or video games, maybe look inwardly. Could it be that you and your spouse or partner fight more than you should in front of the kids? 

Being conscious of this doesn’t feel good, but it’s necessary, as now you can amend your own behavior. Fights will still happen with your spouse as well as other members of the family, but they don’t have to devolve into shouting and name-calling. Instead, you can model conflict resolution skills that you want your child to learn.

Of course, we’re not only angry when we fight with others. Plenty of daily life situations can be frustrating, whether it’s not getting a promotion, the car failing to start, or accidentally burning dinner.

If you’re the type who shouts obscenities or slams things when you’re upset, you’ll teach your child to do the same if they’re not already doing so.

This is a great chance to showcase the anger management techniques from before. Take a deep breath. You can express how you’re feeling, saying that you’re frustrated or angry. Don’t just talk about your emotions though, but what you’re going to do.

For instance, you might say something like this. “I’m frustrated that I burned dinner because I worked really hard on it. Rather than get upset though, I’ll order us a pizza.” 

You might slip up from time to time, getting angry when you think your child isn’t watching. If so, please don’t brush it under the rug. Once you’ve sufficiently calmed down, go to your child and have a conversation about what happened. 

You might tell them: “Hey, I’m sorry you had to see Mommy/Daddy get upset like that in front of you. I handled the situation wrong. I should have walked away for a few minutes until I could calm down.”

4. Monitor Their Entertainment Consumption

Although TV and video games can be used as a scapegoat in some situations, there is indeed a correlation between consuming violent media and a child’s behavior. 

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, “extensive viewing of television violence by children causes greater aggressiveness. Sometimes, watching a single violent program can increase aggressiveness.

Children who view shows in which violence is very realistic, frequently repeated or unpunished, are more likely to imitate what they see. Children with emotional, behavioral, learning, or impulse control problems may be more easily influenced by TV violence.

The impact of TV violence may show immediately in the child’s behavior or may surface years later. Young people can be affected even when their home life shows no tendency toward violence.”

This can be very scary information to learn as a parent, but don’t panic. Rather than banning what your child watches outright, spend some time with them viewing their favorite programs.

If these shows are violent, then you might wait until your child is older to allow them to resume watching the program. Or maybe they never do, it’s your choice as the parent. 

Children don’t only consume media through television. They can also watch videos online on YouTube, Vimeo, and other websites. If your child has a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop, then access these devices and turn on privacy restrictions. These restrictions can also prevent your child from viewing other types of content that they shouldn’t see at their age such as pornography. 

5. Create a Calming Corner

It’s getting easier for both you and your child to tell when they’re at their angriest thanks to the anger thermometer. We talked before about the importance of walking away when that anger thermometer is full, but where can your child go? 

Some parents will send their children to time-out by themselves. This seems like a good solution because it gets your angry child away from their younger brother or sister who might have just gotten hit or had something thrown at them. You can tend to your child and then come up and talk to your other child about their anger after they’ve had some time to think about what they’ve done.

Time-out can be an effective parenting tool and a good punishment, as we’ll talk more about in the next section. Yet if your child doesn’t have the tools to deal with their anger, then sitting by themselves for 20 or 30 minutes isn’t going to do much good. They might come out of their room even angrier because they don’t know how to process their feelings.

You need a place in the house for your child to dispel their angry feelings, and for that, we recommend a calming corner. In this corner should be all nature of soothing items, from gentle music to aromatherapy to a table with a blank coloring book and crayons. As your child spends time in the calming corner, their anger will come down and eventually disappear entirely.

6. Be Consistent with Rules and Punishment

Your household lives by a certain set of rules. Perhaps you don’t allow shouting or slamming of doors. Whatever the rules you’ve established, you have to make sure that they apply to all your children at all times. 

You don’t have to jump right to discipline if your child is misbehaving. Instead, you might recommend that your child take a self-imposed time-out in the calming corner before they get in trouble. Yet if your child continues to act out, then you must discipline them.

You might assign your child chores or insist that they pay restitution for breaking their sibling’s favorite toy. You could take away their TV or Internet time as a punishment as well.

Just be sure that if you’re acknowledging your child’s negative actions that you do the same for their positive ones.

You should have a reward system in place for just this purpose. For each good behavior your child does, they get more “points,” so to speak. So if your child practiced conflict resolution and avoided a fight, that would earn them a handful of points. 

What their reward is doesn’t have to be monetary, although it can be. You can reward a child by increasing their screen time or even letting them stay up 30 minutes later on a Friday or Saturday night. 

How Should a Parent Respond to Aggression from a Child?

It’s one thing when your child shouts and another when they begin physically striking out at their siblings or even at Mom and Dad. This aggression will only get worse if you let it fester, so here’s what you should do about your child’s behavior.

Intervene Right Away

Don’t let a bad situation play out. When your child is acting aggressively, their anger levels are usually so high that they might not even be conscious of what they’re doing. Step in and separate your aggressive child from their victim before matters escalate. 

Use Discipline 

Hitting a child who’s hitting their younger sibling is not the right way to deal with aggression. If anything, you’ll worsen it. You do want to penalize your child for their unacceptable behavior though. Maybe they can’t see their friends or go on the school field trip. These punishments show them that actions have consequences. 

Talk Through Their Feelings

Your child must have adequate time to calm down after acting aggressively. When you can sit down and talk to them safely, try to get to the root of the problem. You might ask what caused them to behave the way they did. 

Don’t try to tell your child that anger is bad or that they’re wrong for feeling angry. Stress that how they reacted to their anger is the problem and that’s what needs changing. 

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Final Words

We all get angry sometimes; it’s inevitable. Yet how you handle your anger as a parent can show a child what they’re supposed to do with theirs. Although an angry child won’t change overnight, with the tips and advice in this article, you’re well on your way to making your household harmonious once more!

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