5 Ways to Teach Your kids Anger Management Skills
By Amy Morin, LCSW Reviewed by Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. But many kids struggle to understand the difference between angry feelings and aggressive behavior. Frustration and anger can quickly turn into defiance, disrespect, aggression, and temper tantrums when kids don’t know how to deal with their emotions.
When left unchecked, childhood aggression such as fighting, spitting, and teasing can lead to additional issues. For instance, anger and aggression have been linked to academic problems, peer rejections, and poor mental health in adulthood. For kids who have trouble taming their tempers, use these five strategies to teach anger management skills.
5. Differentiate Between Feelings and Behavior
Teach kids to label their feelings, so they can verbalize feelings of anger, frustration, and disappointment. Try saying, “It’s OK to feel angry but it’s not OK to hit.” Help them see that they’re in control of their actions when they feel angry.
Sometimes, aggressive behavior stems from a variety of uncomfortable feelings, like sadness or embarrassment. So, help your kids explore why they are feeling angry. Maybe they feel sad about a playdate being canceled, but they respond in anger because it’s easier or it masks the hurt they’re feeling.
Talking about feelings often and over time helps kids learn to recognize their feelings better.