Hi! I'm Coach Franny, and I empower families with challenging children to come together as problem solving teams through a Mindful-Ish® approach to parenting.
Parenting can get challenging when your child is prone to emotional outbursts and feeling angry. Dealing with meltdowns and bouts of anger is frustrating for both parents and kids. Children often feel confused and worn out after losing control and giving in to rage. For parents and caregivers, figuring out how to approach anger in children is tricky and stressful.
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to help your child learn to manage and express their emotions in healthy ways. It can feel daunting, but there are strategies that will help you respond to your child’s anger in a way that supports emotional regulation. Let’s Make Shift Happen™ and take small steps to tackle big feelings.
💡Parenting a challenging child can sometimes feel like a battle, but your child is not your opponent. GameTime is a professionally led online membership program that helps parents learn how to problem-solve and effectively handle whatever challenges life throws at them — including tantrums.
It’s easy to feel angry and out of control when your child is in the middle of a meltdown. You may find yourself entering the red zone and shouting at your child or defaulting to punishment such as taking away their toys or iPads. While this reaction is understandable, it only exacerbates the situation and doesn’t help your child learn how to regulate their emotions.
If you’re wondering how to calm an angry child down, one of the most important things to do is stay calm yourself. Children look at their parents as role models for behavior. If you remain calm and composed, it sets a positive example for them to follow.
One of the best emotional regulation activities for kids is teaching your child how to use words to label their feelings. There are studies that show that language skills and behavior problems are related. If your child doesn’t know how to verbalize their emotional state, they’re more likely to lose control and lash out.
If you have a young child, start by teaching them basic words such as “sad,” “angry,” and “upset.” If your child is older or has fairly developed language skills, you can proceed with more nuanced words, such as “lonely,” “anxious,” and “frustrated.” Over time, it’ll become easier for your child to label big emotions with simple words.
A great strategy for how to help an angry child calm down is to create a designated area where they can go when they start feeling overwhelmed. Being in an environment that helps them feel safe and relaxed can promote better emotional regulation skills.
You can fill your child’s “calm-down” space with comforting items, such as their favorite toys and soft blankets. You can also stock it with tools that’ll help them process their emotions in a productive way, such as coloring books or exercise cards.
Figuring out how to teach a child to calm down when angry can also become a fun game. You can guide your child to channel their anger into creating art or crafts that express the emotions they feel. This practice can make big feelings seem smaller and more manageable.
For example, you can encourage your child to draw their anger as an angry monster. Alternatively, they can also draw a portrait of themselves when they’re feeling angry. Focus on exploring specific emotions in a creative way and help your child make sense of how they’re feeling.
You should stay calm and supportive during your child’s angry outburst, but it’s important to maintain strong boundaries and avoid giving in and letting your child use anger to get what they want.
In the middle of a meltdown over an iPad, it’s easy to throw in the towel and let your child have fifteen more minutes of screen time to make them calm down, but in the long run, it’ll only make negative emotional outbursts worse. Calmly stick to your boundaries and firmly show your child that anger is not a productive way to communicate their wants and needs.
The Child Mind Institute emphasizes that children often have meltdowns at predictable times, such as when they have to stop playing or watching TV or at bedtime. If you recognize these events as triggers, it may help you diminish negative outbursts or prevent them altogether.
For example, you can give your child a time warning — “You’ll need to start doing homework in 10 minutes” — to make them feel more in control of the situation and have time to mentally prepare to tackle an unpleasant task.
If your child has meltdowns often or has problems managing emotional outbursts at an older age, there may be an underlying problem that requires professional treatment. Although this may come across as a scary possibility, many conditions that cause behavioral problems and aggressiveness in children can be effectively managed with proper care.
ADHD, learning disabilities, sensory processing issues, and anxiety are all possible root causes of emotional outbursts in children. Consult with your pediatrician to take the first step to getting a proper diagnosis. Knowing the root cause of your child’s behavior is going to make you feel more confident and in control.
Dealing with angry outbursts is tough, but it’s important to remember that kids don’t have meltdowns because they enjoy it. They are trying to communicate with you to the best of their ability and end up feeling defeated, tired, and angry just like you.
→ Recognizing that there’s no malicious intent in your child’s behavior is the first step to making meaningful behavioral changes and growing together.
Shifting family dynamics and solving emotional dysregulation in children starts with self-awareness and building strong parenting skills.
GameTime is a professionally-led online membership program designed to help parents become the best version of themselves while raising conscious and resilient human beings in our ever-changing world.
From aggression management to important questions to ask an angry child, GameTime helps you tackle challenging behaviors in kids in a Mindful-Ish® way.
Learn more about GameTime here.