How to De-Escalate Angry Behavior in Children

by Brenda Scottsdale
A child becomes frustrated when she doesn't know how to get her needs met.

A child becomes frustrated when she doesn't know how to get her needs met.

From tantrums as toddlers to explosive behavioral outbursts in middle childhood, managing your child's anger is a herculean task. Understand that your child's anger is a normal reaction to environmental threats, a means of self-expression and sometimes a way of asserting his independence. How you respond helps to set the stage for either a lifetime of struggles or a sea of calm. Educate yourself on effective anger-management strategies so you can reframe your child's next outburst as an opportunity to manage your own feelings and apply your new skills.

Step 1

Learn to manage your anger first. Disciplining your child out of anger teaches him inappropriate ways to manage his own emotions, according to child development professor, parenting expert and lead author R.J. Fetsch, writing on the Colorado State University Extension website. Wait until you calm down before disciplining your child, Fetsch advises, to ensure your punishment is constructive.

Step 2

Prevent misbehavior by redirecting or distracting your child. Recognize signs that your child is beginning to lose his patience, such as his lip trembling or his appearing tired, and remove or distract him from the situation that's triggering the problem, according to Fetsch.

Step 3

Help your child communicate his needs in a constructive fashion. Discover the root cause and model appropriate problem-solving behaviors so the situation is less likely to get out of hand. Provide problem-solving alternatives, such as apologizing and compromising, to give your child healthy options, according to "Parents," an online parenting resource.

Step 4

Discipline immediately and consistently to communicate a message that your child's angry outburst is inappropriate and his behaviors have consequences. Outline consequences for misbehavior during a family meeting, while he's not misbehaving, and then follow through whenever you see him inappropriately act out on his anger.

Step 5

Reward your child's successes. Acknowledge that managing your anger is a difficult process and celebrate his achievements. Managing anger takes a lifetime, according to "Parents" and is a skill we all refine as we mature.

About the Author

Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.

Photo Credits

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