Managing Anger, a guide for Parents and Teachers

This article aims to provide a clear understanding of anger's many facets, from its definition and causes to its symptoms and management techniques. By equipping ourselves with this knowledge, we can better support our children and students in their journey of emotional growth and resilience.

A woman doing breathing exercises, a great way to manage anger.

This image depicts a woman doing some simple breathing exercises to help manage anger.

Anger is a natural emotion we all experience. For children and adolescents, expressing anger can be particularly challenging as they navigate their growing sense of self and the world around them.

When anger becomes frequent or intense, it can be concerning for parents, caregivers, and educators who are committed to ensuring a safe and nurturing environment. Recognizing the signs of anger, understanding its causes, and implementing effective strategies to manage it are essential in helping young individuals develop healthy emotional habits.

This article aims to provide a clear understanding of anger's many facets, from its definition and causes to its symptoms and management techniques. By equipping ourselves with this knowledge, we can better support our children and students in their journey of emotional growth and resilience.

Sections in this article:

  • What is Anger
  • Causes of Anger
  • Symptoms of Anger
  • Managing and Harnessing Anger
  • Harnessing Anger for Positive Outcomes
  • Managing Anger to Avoid Negative Outcomes
  • Managing Anger in Children and Adults You Care For


What is Anger?

At its core, anger is a response to feelings of hurt, threat, or frustration. While it's often perceived negatively, it's worth noting that anger in itself is neither good nor bad. In fact, when channeled appropriately, it can be a driving force behind positive change and can serve as an alert system indicating when something isn't right.

For children and adolescents, the experience of anger might be akin to facing a puzzling challenge. Their world is a whirlwind of learning new skills, understanding complex emotions and adapting to evolving relationships and environments.

These are the ten most common causes of anger:


Causes of Anger


One of the most common causes of anger is frustration. When things don't go as planned or expected this is frustrating. This frustration could stem from personal goals, work, relationships, or daily life challenges. Not being able to convey feelings, or facing repeated obstacles (like failing at a task multiple times), can also be significant triggers.

Perceived Threat

Anger can be a response to a perceived threat, be it physical, emotional, or psychological. When individuals, especially children, feel threatened, their natural reaction can be to manifest anger as a form of self-protection.

This protective mechanism is deep-seated within our evolutionary framework. In earlier times, anger would prepare our ancestors to "fight" when faced with danger. In modern settings, the threats have changed – they're often not physical but are just as real in the emotional landscape of a child.

A teasing comment from a peer, a change in a familiar routine, or even an unfavorable grade can be perceived threats that elicit an anger response. Recognizing these triggers can help caregivers and educators approach the situation with sensitivity, understanding that the anger is a sign of something deeper that the child might be grappling with.

Unmet Needs

Central to our emotional well-being are our basic human needs. Whether it's the need for safety, love, respect, understanding, or validation, when these foundational requirements aren't fulfilled, feelings of anger and resentment can emerge.

In the context of children and adolescents, unmet needs can take various forms. A child might feel anger when they perceive a lack of attention from their parents, interpreting it as a lack of love or care. In classroom settings, if a student feels consistently overlooked or underappreciated, they might harbor feelings of resentment, feeling that their need for validation or respect is being unfulfilled.

Interpersonal relationships, particularly among adolescents, are rife with complexities. Friendships and peer relationships play a pivotal role in their emotional landscape. Within these relationships, unmet needs often manifest as feelings of exclusion, misunderstanding, or betrayal. For instance, not being invited to a social gathering can be perceived as a lack of inclusion or respect, leading to feelings of anger.


Humans are finely tuned to fairness and justice. We care deeply about fairness and are commonly repulsed by injustice. When these principles are breached, whether on a grand societal scale or in personal interactions, the result is often one of anger.

Societal Injustices: From early on, children and adolescents begin to form their understanding of the world around them, and with it, their sense of right and wrong. Witnessing societal injustices — be it discrimination, inequality, or any form of systemic prejudice — can instill feelings of anger, especially in older children and adolescents who are developing a more acute awareness of societal dynamics.

For instance, news stories about discrimination or unfair treatment based on race, gender, or socioeconomic status can invoke strong feelings. Adolescents, with their increasing exposure to global events through social media, can become particularly attuned and reactive to these issues.

Personal Injustices: On a more intimate scale, feelings of injustice can emerge from personal experiences. In school settings, a student might feel anger if they perceive that they're being graded unfairly compared to peers. At home, a child might feel unjustly treated if they believe they're shouldering more responsibilities than a sibling. Instances of bullying, where a child or teenager feels targeted and treated unfairly, are classic triggers for anger rooted in perceived personal injustice.

Furthermore, witnessing a friend or loved one being treated unfairly can also evoke strong anger reactions. The sense of powerlessness that often accompanies witnessing such acts can intensify these feelings.


When an individual is under stress, their body releases stress hormones like cortisol, which prepares the body to either confront or flee from a threat – the classic 'fight or flight' response. However, in our modern lives, these physiological reactions often aren't aligned with the stressors we face, leading to a buildup of tension and an increased propensity for anger.

Impact on Patience Levels: One of the most evident impacts of stress is its erosion of our patience. Tasks or interactions that we would normally handle with ease can suddenly seem insurmountable or irritating. For children, this might manifest in a reduced tolerance for challenges in their homework or quicker frustration with their peers. For adults, it might be a shorter fuse with colleagues, friends, or family over minor disagreements or issues.

Difficulty in Emotional Management: Under stress, the brain's ability to process emotions can be hampered. The amygdala, the brain's emotional center, becomes more reactive, while the prefrontal cortex, responsible for rational thought and decision-making, becomes less active. This shift means that emotions, including anger, can become more intense and harder to control. A child who is stressed might have meltdowns over seemingly trivial matters. Similarly, stressed adults might find themselves overreacting to situations they would typically handle calmly.

Physical Manifestations: Stress doesn't only affect our emotional responses; it has physical ramifications as well. Tense muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders, headaches, and even stomach disturbances can all accompany chronic stress. These physical discomforts can further lower one's threshold for anger.

Pain and Physical Discomfort

Physical pain or discomfort, while primarily experienced in the body, can have significant emotional and psychological repercussions. This connection is particularly evident in the link between pain and mood alterations, such as irritability and anger. Put simply, if someone is in pain they are likely to become angry more easily.

An individual grappling with pain often finds their ability to handle additional stressors, be it environmental, emotional, or otherwise, significantly diminished. For example, a child with a persistent toothache might lash out over minor annoyances that they would otherwise overlook.

Pain can also reduce cognitive function making tasks more demanding or overwhelming. Pain can make individuals feel vulnerable and defensive and see benign interactions with peers as perceived threats.

Essentially physical pain erodes the individual’s ability to manage triggers that often lead to anger.

Lack of Control

Humans like predictability and control. When situations unfold in ways that leave individuals feeling powerless, it can be a significant trigger for anger.

Not knowing how a situation will pan out or feeling unable to steer events in a desired direction can breed anxiety. This uncertainty, coupled with the inability to act, can lead to heightened stress levels, manifesting as anger. For example, a student who feels they aren't being given adequate resources to succeed in an assignment might experience anger stemming from this perceived lack of control.

Similarly, when someone feels trapped in a situation with no visible way out, a sense of helplessness can prevail. This perceived helplessness is emotionally taxing and can cause an individual to react with anger, as it becomes a way to voice their distress and assert some form of control.

In situations where control is lost, anger can act as a psychological shield. It serves as a protective mechanism, allowing individuals to distance themselves from the vulnerability of their situation. A child facing consistent academic failures, for instance, might resort to anger as a way to deflect from the pain of their situation.

Past Trauma

Traumatic events, whether experienced in childhood or later in life, can leave deep emotional scars. The lingering effects of such experiences can manifest in various emotional reactions, with anger being a prominent one.

Traumatic events often leave emotional imprints that can be triggered by situations or stimuli reminiscent of the original trauma. For example, a child who has witnessed domestic violence might become particularly angry when exposed to loud noises or confrontational situations, even if they are non-threatening.

For some, anger serves as a protective barrier, a way to guard against the vulnerability that traumatic memories can evoke. By reacting with anger, the individual may be attempting to establish boundaries or deter potential threats, even if they are not immediately apparent to others.

Trauma can interfere with the brain's ability to process emotions effectively. This disruption can make it difficult for individuals to understand and regulate their feelings, leading to heightened emotional responses, including anger.

Personality Temperament

Personality and Temperament: Human beings come with a diverse array of personalities and temperaments. These inherent traits, shaped both by genetics and early life experiences, play a significant role in determining our emotional responses to various situations.

Just as some people are naturally more introverted or extroverted, some individuals have a predisposition towards quicker irritability or aggression. This doesn't mean they are bound to react with anger at all times, but they might have a lower threshold for triggers compared to others.

For those with a naturally irritable or aggressive temperament, their environments play a crucial role in shaping how these traits manifest. If such behaviours are frequently reinforced or go unchecked during formative years, they might become more pronounced over time.

Substance Abuse

The ingestion of certain substances, whether alcohol, recreational drugs, or even some prescription medications, can significantly influence one's emotional state and behavioral responses. These changes can sometimes exacerbate or even create anger issues that might not be present in sober states.

Alcohol and certain drugs can cloud rational thinking and lower inhibitions. This impaired judgment means that situations that would usually be brushed off or dealt with diplomatically might be met with anger or aggression.

Many substances can heighten emotional responses. A mild irritation can be felt as an intense provocation, leading to disproportionate reactions. This heightened reactivity can be particularly problematic as the individual might not even recognize the severity of their reactions until after the effects of the substance have worn off.

Chronic substance abuse can lead to physical health problems, including headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Discomfort from these symptoms can contribute to irritability and a reduced threshold for anger. Additionally, the stress and anxiety associated with substance dependency can further make an individual more prone to anger.

For those addicted to certain substances, withdrawal can be a particularly trying time. Symptoms can range from physical pain to extreme mood swings. This period of heightened vulnerability can also lead to increased anger and irritability.

Symptoms of Anger

Anger can manifest in a variety of ways both physically and psychologically. These are the common symptoms of anger that you might observe in individuals experiencing it.

Increased Heart Rate

When someone is angry, their heart rate often accelerates. This is the body’s natural ‘fight or flight’ response to stress. The brain releases stress hormones like adrenaline. This hormone acts as a stimulant, causing several immediate changes in the body. One of the most notable effects is the rapid increase in heart rate. The accelerated heart rate prepares the body to act quickly, providing the muscles with more oxygenated blood, priming them for sudden and intense action.

A faster heart rate can lead to increased blood pressure. Over time, if anger is not managed or becomes chronic, these consistent elevations in heart rate and blood pressure can contribute to health problems like cardiovascular disease.

The signs of an increased heart rate (aside from taking a your own or someone else's’ pulse) are a pounding chest, feeling flushed and a heightened sense of alertness.

Rapid Breathing

Angry feelings can lead to faster and shallower breathing, which can sometimes result in shortness or breath. Breathing is closely related to our emotional state. As with the accelerated heart rate, the body is triggering a stress response and increasing breathing to deliver oxygen for an urgent muscular response.

However, while rapid breathing provides an increased oxygen supply, it can sometimes become excessive, leading to an imbalance in the carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream. The result can be feelings of dizziness, light-headedness, and in extreme cases, even hyperventilation. Additionally, the sensation of shortness of breath can further exacerbate feelings of anxiety or panic in the individual.

Muscle Tension

Muscle tension is a physiological response that often accompanies anger, stress, or anxiety. When anger emerges, it acts as a signal to the body to prepare for potential action.

One of the most common manifestations of this tension is in the jaw and face. Many people subconsciously clench their jaws or grind their teeth when they are angry, frustrated, or stressed. This specific action, known as bruxism, can lead to headaches, face pain, or even wear down teeth over time.

The neck, shoulders, and back are also typical areas where tension accumulates. Over time, if anger and the associated muscle tension are not addressed, they can lead to chronic pain or musculoskeletal problems. Continuous tension can strain muscles and ligaments, leading to pain and discomfort that persists even after the initial anger subsides.


When someone is irritable, there is a heightened sensitivity to stimuli, and small inconveniences or disturbances can provoke disproportionately strong feelings of annoyance or frustration. Irritability is a mood state that often accompanies anger.

When linked specifically to anger, irritability often indicates a simmering underlying emotion that hasn't been fully expressed or processed.

The effects of irritability aren't just confined to the individual experiencing it. When someone is in a state of irritability, their tolerance threshold is markedly lowered. This means that interactions with others can become strained. Friends, family, or coworkers may feel as though they are "walking on eggshells," unsure of what might set off an angry or irritated response. This can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and even long-term strain on relationships.

Racing Thoughts

Racing thoughts refer to the rapid succession of multiple thoughts, often uncontrollable and overwhelming, that can crowd one's mind. When anger is the driving emotion, these thoughts are typically negative, aggressive, or confrontational in nature.

Several factors can contribute to racing thoughts. The surge of adrenaline that comes with anger can heighten one's mental alertness, making the mind more active. This increased activity, coupled with the emotional intensity of anger, can lead to a torrent of thoughts as one mentally rehearses confrontations, dwells on perceived injustices, or imagines future scenarios.

These aggressive or negative thought patterns can amplify the feelings of anger or resentment, creating a feedback loop. As one becomes more entrenched in these thoughts, the emotional response intensifies, which, in turn, fuels even more racing thoughts.

Being trapped in this cycle of racing thoughts and escalating anger can be mentally exhausting. It can impair one's ability to concentrate, make rational decisions, or engage in constructive problem-solving. The preoccupation with these thoughts can also lead to feelings of anxiety, further compounding emotional distress.

Increased Blood Pressure

When anger is elicited, the body releases stress hormones, primarily adrenaline and noradrenaline. These hormones cause several responses: the heart beats faster, blood vessels constrict, and there's an increase in energy-providing metabolic reactions. As a result, there's a temporary boost in blood pressure, ensuring that oxygenated blood reaches essential areas of the body more efficiently, preparing it for the "fight or flight" response.

While this temporary spike in blood pressure is a natural and adaptive response to stressors, frequent and prolonged elevations can be problematic. Chronic high blood pressure, known as hypertension, can strain the heart, damage blood vessels, and increase the risk of various cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.


As the body prepares for potential physical action in response to anger, it anticipates the generation of heat from increased muscular activity. Sweating acts as a preemptive cooling mechanism, with the evaporation of sweat helping to dissipate excess heat.

Along with other physiological changes, there's an increase in blood flow to the skin's surface when we're angry or stressed. The blood vessels in the skin dilate, allowing for better heat dissipation, and sweat glands are activated as a result.

The release of stress hormones like adrenaline during heightened emotional states can stimulate the sweat glands, leading to increased perspiration. This is also why people might experience sweaty palms before a stressful event or when nervous.

Flushed Face

A flushed or red face is a common physical manifestation of various emotions, including embarrassment, exertion, and, in this context, anger. This reddening of the skin, especially noticeable in those with lighter complexions, is largely due to the dilation of blood vessels beneath the skin's surface.

When anger is triggered, the body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline. These hormones cause dilation or expansion of blood vessels, known as vasodilation. As blood vessels in the face expand, they allow a greater volume of blood to flow to the skin's surface, leading to a reddened appearance.

Difficulty Concentrating

Anger is a powerful emotion that can dominate one's mental state, making it challenging to concentrate or maintain focus on tasks at hand.

When anger arises, it commands a significant portion of our cognitive resources. The brain prioritizes this strong emotional reaction, pushing other tasks or thoughts to the background. This shift in priority can make it difficult to attend to other information, leading to reduced focus and attention on tasks or conversations.

Stress hormones impair cognitive function and the amygdala, a region in the brain associated with processing emotions, becomes highly active during episodes of anger. This heightened activity can overshadow the functions of other brain regions, such as the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for executive functions like reasoning, decision-making, and focusing attention.

Partnered with a perceived injustices that so often triggers anger, the brain desires to address or resolve the triggering issue with the limited cognitive resource available and these thoughts can dominate one's conscience further impairing the individual’s ability to concentrate on other matters.

Verbal or Physical Aggression

One of the pronounced manifestations of intense anger is aggression, either verbal or physical. The prefrontal cortex of the brain plays a crucial role in judgment, impulse control, and decision-making. Intense anger can compromise the functioning of this region, leading to a reduction in one's ability to regulate behavior. This diminished regulation can make an individual more prone to lash out verbally or physically.

In addition, as the emotional centre of the brain, the amygdala becomes highly activated during strong emotional states like anger, it can drive an individual toward immediate action. This often bypasses rational thought processes. This "act first, think later" reaction can result in aggressive behaviours.

Managing and Harnessing Anger

Anger is one of the most primal and complex emotions we possess and it can be both destructive to our health and relationships as well as constructive in our lives.

At its core, anger is a signal, alerting us to issues that demand our attention. It can act as a catalyst, inspiring us to rise against injustices or motivate change.

This kind of anger drives many of the world's most pivotal movements, from revolutions to civil rights campaigns. On a personal level, it can help us recognise when our boundaries are infringed upon and can guide us towards problem-solving, ensuring we don't encounter the same frustrations repeatedly.

Left unchecked, expressions of anger or a chronic presence of anger can strain relationships, result in aggression and escalate conflicts. Persistent anger presents significant health risks from cardiovascular diseases to mental health challenges. It can erode one's sense of well-being and alienate those around us.

In the family, classroom or care environment, it is critical to help children and adults recognise when they are angry and give them the tools to self manage those emotions to emphasise the positives of anger and minimise the negatives.

First, let’s explore the positive ways anger can be managed or used for positive outcomes. These perspectives shared can help others recognise their anger emotions and channel them towards positive outcomes instead of negative ones.

Harnessing Anger for Positive Outcomes

Motivation and Action

Anger can serve as a powerful motivator, particularly when we are angry about an injustice. We feel energised to take action to put that right. Taking this energy and doing something positive about the injustice is a very constructive way to ease the stressful feelings of anger and achieve a good outcome. Of course, it’s important to say that this action we take shouldn’t be aggressive or break any laws. That would a) be wrong and b) may make the individual more angry than they were before.

When supporting children a good way to explain this is to use a super hero analogy:

You know how superheroes get their power and then decide to do something good with it? Anger can be like a superpower. Instead of letting it explode or hurt someone, you can use that strong feeling to help you do something good.

Once you have that motivation, that push, you can choose to do something about it, like a superhero would. Maybe you could stand up for a friend, help fix something that’s broken, or even just talk about how you feel.

So, instead of getting super mad and yelling or hitting, think of your anger like a superpower. Ask yourself, 'How can I use this feeling to make something good happen?' Maybe you’ll come up with a new way to solve a problem or help someone out.

Just like superheroes, it's important to use our powers for good. Anger can help us see what's wrong and give us the energy to fix it. So, next time you feel that fiery ball of anger, think about how you can use it as your superpower to do something good!

Using this approach, you can help children and adolescents see anger not merely as a disruptive emotion but as potential energy they can channel into positive outcomes. It provides them with a sense of agency and empowerment, which is crucial for emotional development and maturity.

Self Defence

Anger is useful for self preservation when real, physical threats exist. Understanding this and also recognising that the same anger is caused by emotional stress can help give perspective on the emotion and therefore help individual’s reconcile the feelings in context.

Often people will say ‘it’s not the end of the world’ or, ‘let’s step back and get some perspective’.

And, of course, self defence is a valid response to a threat such as bullying, encounters with threatening wildlife or danger from other humans.

For children and teenagers facing bullies a peaceful resolution is always desired but there are moments when immediate action is needed. Anger can give a child the courage to say "no" firmly or to defend themselves if physical aggression is imminent.

Boundary Setting

Recognising when you feel angry and determining the trigger may be a signal that your personal boundaries have been violated.

Having the perspective to recognise that the trigger is the cause of the anger can help you find healthy ways to assert those boundaries and to communicate your needs and limits to others.

Boundary setting is a crucial aspect of healthy interpersonal relationships. Here are some examples of using anger as a signal and healthy assertion of those boundaries.

Example 1, a child attending school


Lucy has always been particular about her personal space and belongings. One day at school, a classmate, Ben, consistently borrows her stationery without asking and even goes through her backpack during recess.

Anger as a Signal:

Lucy feels a rising sense of anger each time Ben invades her space and takes her belongings without permission. This emotion signals to Lucy that her personal boundaries are being violated.

Expressing Anger Healthily and Setting Boundaries:

Rather than lashing out at Ben, Lucy approaches him calmly after class. "Ben," she says, "I noticed you've been taking my things without asking and going through my backpack. It makes me uncomfortable. Please ask before you borrow something and respect my personal space."

In this manner, Lucy communicates her boundaries clearly and asserts her needs without resorting to aggression.

Example 2, two adults in a relationship


Alex and Jamie have been dating for several months. Jamie has a habit of checking Alex's phone messages without his knowledge, thinking it's just a sign of closeness. However, Alex values his privacy and feels violated when Jamie goes through his personal messages.

Anger as a Signal:

Each time Alex realizes Jamie has gone through his phone, he feels a surge of anger, indicating that his boundaries regarding personal privacy are being breached.

Expressing Anger Healthily and Setting Boundaries:

One evening, Alex sits Jamie down for a heart-to-heart talk. "Jamie," he begins, "I've noticed you often check my messages. I understand you might see it as being close, but it makes me feel like my privacy isn't respected. I'd appreciate it if you'd ask before looking through my phone."

By addressing the issue calmly and directly, Alex sets clear boundaries about his need for personal privacy within the relationship.

In both scenarios, anger acts as an emotional alert system, signaling boundary violations. Addressing the source of this anger in a calm, assertive manner allows individuals to communicate their needs and reestablish those boundaries.

Problem Solving

When managed appropriately, anger can be channeled into problem-solving. It can help you identify issues, find solutions, and make changes in your life or environment to prevent future frustrations.

Emotional Release

From a physiological standpoint, expressing anger leads to the release of stress hormones like adrenaline. This can provide a temporary sense of relief, especially if the anger is expressed physically (like through hitting a pillow or engaging in rigorous exercise). However, repeated or chronic anger can lead to an overproduction of these stress hormones, which is detrimental to health in the long run.

Techniques like anger management and certain types of therapy, such as Gestalt therapy or expressive therapies, recognize the value of expressing and processing anger. For example, in anger management, individuals might be taught to "vent" in a controlled environment or through safe methods to prevent the accumulation of tension.

Contemporary research on mindfulness and emotional regulation supports the idea that recognizing, understanding, and appropriately expressing emotions (including anger) can be beneficial for mental well-being. This contrasts with the harmful effects of suppression or denial of such emotions.

Managing Anger to Avoid Negative Outcomes

Recognise Your Anger

The first step is to acknowledge that you are feeling angry. Pay attention to the phsyical signs like increased heart rate or tension in your body. These are good signals that you are under stress and may later (or frequently) develop into more disruptive symptoms such as racing thoughts, aggression or shallow breathing.

Realising you are experiencing anger and knowing there are steps you can take to control the emotion is empowering, gives perspective and allows you to take control. Use the management techniques that follow to control the emotion.

Take Deep Breaths

Deep breathing can help calm your nervous system. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth.

Count to Ten

Before reacting, count to ten to give yourself time to cool down and think more clearly.

Use ‘I’ Statements

If you are trying to communicate to others about your anger use ‘I’ statements to avoid blame. These are particularly useful when you are trying to let someone know they have violated your boundaries and that has made you angry.

For example, say "I feel frustrated when..." instead of "You make me angry when...".

Take a Break

If you feel overwhelmed by anger, remove yourself from the situation temporarily. Go for a walk or find a quiet space to calm down.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anger and stress.

Seek Support

Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist about your anger. They can offer guidance and a listening ear. Often expressing how you feel and in itself help to relieve the symptoms and provide perspective.

Identify Triggers

Pay attention to what triggers your anger. Knowing your triggers can help you avoid or prepare for situations that make you angry.

Use Humour

Sometimes, humour can diffuse a tense situation. Find ways to inject humour into the situation without making fun of anyone. This can be part of your internal dialogue as a private way to manage your anger or shared with others as a form of group therapy.

Forgive and Let Go

Holding onto anger can be detrimental to your mental health. Practice forgiveness and let go of past grievances

Healthy Lifestyle

Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep can all contribute to better emotional regulation.

Professional Help

If your anger issues are persistent and significantly affect your life, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional who specialises in anger management.

Managing Anger in Children and Adults You Care For

When assisting children or young adults in managing their anger, the approach must be adjusted to consider their developmental stage, cognitive abilities, and emotional maturity. Additionally, when interacting with an angry child or young adult, caregivers must maintain safety and avoid escalating the situation. Here's how a parent, teacher, or caregiver might adapt the aforementioned techniques for younger individuals:

  1. Recognize Your Anger:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: Teach them to identify and name their emotions. Use simple language like, "It looks like you're feeling really mad right now."
  2. Take Deep Breaths:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: Model deep breathing and encourage them to follow along. Use imagery like, "Imagine smelling a flower and then blowing out birthday candles."
  3. Count to Ten:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: Play a counting game with them or use visuals like counting on their fingers.
  4. Use "I" Statements:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: Guide them in expressing their feelings. "Can you tell him, 'I feel sad when you take my toy'?"
  5. Take a Break:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: Create a designated "cool-down" space filled with calming activities or toys.
  6. Practice Relaxation Techniques:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: Introduce age-appropriate relaxation techniques, like coloring, listening to calm music, or simple guided imagery.
  7. Seek Support:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: Encourage them to talk about their feelings. Offer comfort and validation. "It's okay to feel angry sometimes. Let's talk about it."
  8. Identify Triggers:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: Observe patterns in their behavior and discuss potential triggers in a non-confrontational manner.
  9. Use Humor:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: Use playful distraction techniques or silly games to break tension when appropriate.
  10. Forgive and Let Go:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: Encourage communication and apologies. Teach them about forgiveness through stories or role-playing.
  11. Healthy Lifestyle:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: Ensure they have regular playtime, a balanced diet, and a consistent sleep routine.
  12. Professional Help:
    • Child/Young Adult Adaptation: If their anger seems unmanageable or leads to aggressive behavior, consult a child psychologist or counsellor.

Safety First: Always ensure the environment is safe. If a child or young adult's anger escalates, prioritise safety over intervention. Remove any potential dangers and ensure other children or individuals are safe. If you're not able to de-escalate the situation or if the child poses a threat to themselves or others, seek additional support or intervention.

Empathy and Understanding

It's important to remember that anger is a normal human emotion, but how we express and manage it can make a significant difference in our overall well-being and the quality of our relationships

Remember that anger is a natural emotion, but how you choose to express and manage it is within your control. It's important to find strategies that work best for you and practice them regularly to improve your anger management skills.

Managing anger is a crucial skill for individuals of all ages. Just as it's essential for us to recognise and address our own anger, it's equally vital to empathise with and understand the anger of others.

By viewing anger through a lens of empathy, we are reminded that beneath the surface of this emotion are deeper needs, desires, and experiences. Everyone, whether a child or an adult, wants to be heard, understood, and respected.

Recognising anger, both in ourselves and in others, is a fundamental step toward fostering deeper connections and more effective communication. And while many strategies can aid in self-management, it's crucial to remember that professional help is available when needed.

Whether you're seeking assistance for yourself or guiding a young individual, remember the importance of compassion and understanding in the journey of emotional growth.

Positive Behaviour Support Resources and Services

Everything parents, educators and professionals need to help children of all ages learn positive ways of behaving and managing emotions so that they can be happier, healthier and reach their full potential.

Behaviour Help is a registered NDIS provider.

Ask Dolly

Since you’re here, you probably have questions and concerns. I am Dolly Bhargava, am here to help. I am a NDIS registered behaviour support practitioner and speech pathologist.

I have worked in a number of settings for over 22 years so, how can I help?

Please tell me what is worrying you right now and I will do my best to recommend resources and/or services that will be most useful to you in your situation.

Meet Dolly Bhargava, profile picture