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How to Diffuse Anger in Children

by Erin Schreiner

Some kids show it on their faces -- their usually bright eyes cloud over, their little brows furrow, their chubby, stubby fingers wrap tight into fists. Anger in children is often difficult to handle because it takes time and maturity to learn how to cope with this complex and frustrating emotion on your own. The next time your child becomes angry, help him through his turmoil by actively aiding him in defusing his anger.

Separate your child from the source of her anger. Your child’s close proximity to the person or thing that is filling her with rage will only fuel her upset. If you notice that your child appears to be getting agitated, watch her closely. If she begins losing control as a result of her anger, take your child to a different room to give her the physical space that she needs to cool down.

Engage your child’s senses. As the National Network for Child Care, a department of Iowa State University, attests, when children feel anger their bodies respond physically. This physical response often includes an increased heart rate and muscle tightening. Children can best combat these response by doing something that requires movement. Encourage your little ball of anger to squeeze some clay, run around in the backyard or paint a picture, as all will help aid in reducing the pent-up energy that her anger is causing her.

Wait until your child has calmed before trying to talk to her. If you try to talk to your child while she is still stewing, you will almost certainly not receive a positive response, advises social worker and columnist Carole Banks for EmpoweringParents.com. After removing her from the person or situation that's triggered her anger, step back and allow her to calm down, reminding her to engage in the stress reduction activities you recommended. Once she is visibly calm, approach her and engage her in a discussion about her upset.

Encourage your child to express his anger. If you try to let the topic of anger drop as soon as your child calms down, you may actually be encouraging him to internalize her feelings, warns Todd Clements, M.D., and Kim Ferren, L.P.C. for Meier Clinics Foundation. Instead of expecting your child to sort through his feelings -- something he is not yet equipped to do -- sit down and talk with him about his anger after he has calmed down enough to engage in a productive conversation. Encourage meaningful conversation by asking your child open-ended questions about his feelings and the feelings of the person with whom he was angry.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

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