How to be Angry

Don’t Teach your Child not to be Angry. Teach them HOW to be Angry! by Lyman Abbott

Everyone experiences anger. It is a natural, appropriate, normal and healthy emotion. It helps us stand up for ourselves when we have been wronged and protect our own needs. However, depending on how we manage our anger, it can be harmful or cause unwanted consequences. Anger can be a problem when it negatively affects our relationships with others, when it interferes with our performance at work or school, or when it negatively affects our health and wellbeing. It is important to distinguish between anger (the emotion) and aggression (the behaviour). Aggression is unhelpful and an unhealthy way of expressing anger. Here are a few tips on how we can teach our children to cope with anger:

Model Appropriate Anger Management

It is essential to not only teach our children how to express their anger in a healthy way, but also to model this for them. Children learn by observing, and they will pick up a lot of our habits and behaviours when it comes to managing and expressing our own anger. When you handle your own anger calmly, your child is more likely to mimic that behaviour. Show them that it is possible to resolve conflicts without yelling or aggression.

Encourage Timeouts

Timeouts are a powerful tool for relationships where anger-fuelled disagreements are causing problems. When someone calls a timeout, both individuals agree to walk away from the problem, and return once both have had an opportunity to cool down.

Some tips on using timeouts effectively (adapted from

- With your child, plan exactly how timeouts will work. Everyone should understand the rationale behind timeouts (an opportunity to cool down — not to avoid a problem).

- What will you both do during timeouts? Plan activities that are in different rooms or different places. The list of diversions below is a good place to begin.

- Plan to return to the problem in 30 minutes to an hour. Important problems should not be ignored forever, but nothing good will come from an explosive argument.

Use Diversions explains that the goal of diversions is to buy yourself time. If you can distract yourself for just 30 minutes, you will have a better chance of dealing with your anger in a healthy way. Remember, you can always return to the source of your anger later — you are just setting the problem aside for now.

Create a Safe Space

Designate a calm-down corner where your child can go to cool off when they are feeling angry. This space should be quiet and filled with comforting items like books, stuffed animals, or calming music.

Teach Deep Breathing

Deep breathing can help manage anger by slowing the heart rate and promoting relaxation. Practice deep breathing exercises with your child.

Encourage Physical Activity

Exercise is a great outlet for releasing pent-up energy and reducing stress. Encourage your child to engage in physical activities they enjoy, whether it is playing sports, dancing, or simply running around outside.

Use “I” Statements

Teach your child to express their feelings using “I” statements, such as, “I feel upset when my toys are taken without asking.” This helps them articulate their emotions without blaming others.

Name it to Tame it

This is a technique that involves noticing and labelling emotions as they are happening. Identifying an intense emotion (naming) has the effect of reducing the stress and anxiety (taming) in the brain and the body being caused by that emotion. In addition to in-the-moment relief, this practice also strengthens our capacity over time to be with big emotions when they arise, without getting swept up in them. This technique was first identified by Dr Daniel Siegel, a psychiatrist, writer and professor who is a well-known authority on child development, attachment and parenting.

Explore what is Beneath their Anger

Support your child in exploring (and naming) what other emotions may have been fuelling their anger. Anger is an emotion that tends to be easy to see. However, anger is often just the tip of the iceberg. Other emotions may be hidden beneath the surface.


Sometimes anger arises from a specific problem. When your child is calm and regulated, offer to support them in finding solutions and brainstorm ways to address the issue constructively.

Be Aware of Triggers

Anger triggers are the things that set you off. Supporting your child in knowing their triggers, and being cautious around them, will reduce the likelihood of their anger getting out of control.

Some tips on how to use triggers to your advantage (adapted from

- Support your child in creating a list of their triggers and review them daily. Reviewing their triggers will keep them fresh in their mind, increasing the likelihood they notice them before they become a problem.

- Oftentimes, the best way to deal with a trigger is to avoid it. This might mean making changes to your lifestyle, relationships, or daily routine.

- Because it is not always possible to avoid triggers, have a plan when your child must face them. For example, avoid touchy conversations when they are tired, hungry, or upset.

Understanding Warning Signs

Anger warning signs are the clues your body gives you that your anger is starting to grow. When you learn to spot your warning signs, you can begin to address your anger while it is still weak. provides the following examples of warning signs:

How to Respond to your Angry Child

Until next time,

Marisa Smit

CGS Psychologist