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Inside: If you are wondering how to help an angry child calm down, you are in the right spot. This article includes 55 effective anger management activities for kids, 6 book recommendations for kids, 5 Facebook support groups, free mindfulness printables for you and for your kids, and so much more. This is an epic guide, right at your fingertips.
Your husband forgot about your birthday.
Uh-huh, he actually did.
Perhaps you feel disappointed. Or, maybe you just feel ANGRY.
Anger is a natural (and perfectly acceptable) emotion.
We feel angry from time to time, and our kids do too.
Instead of trying to force our kids to stuff their anger inside (to explode later in unhealthy ways), why not teach our kids safe and healthy tools and strategies to manage their anger.
My son is very spirited, and when I say that, I mean, he’s more spirited than a wild stallion horse.
His meltdowns are more explosive than a category 5 volcanic eruption. (Not sure if that’s a thing, but it should be).
To say he gets angry is an understatement.
I’ve devised a collection of the best tools and tips to teach young children how to recognize and work through their anger, to learn how to calm down safely.
And here’s the best part:
It’s really helping. Our meltdowns have decreased, the intensity has lessened, and my son is starting to use coping strategies on his own.
Let’s get to it and learn how to help an angry child calm down. Let’s stop these volcanic eruptions once and for all.
Recognizing the Signs of Anger in Kids
Before we get to the calming strategies for kids below, I have to take a moment and say:
You need to recognize the signs your child is about to erupt, BEFORE the full-on volcanic explosion.
Once kids are in full meltdown mode they will be flooded with adrenaline (it’s a true emergency), and they are essentially fighting for their lives.
At this point, managing the emotion of anger is almost impossible, and our only option is to offer our kids a safe haven until the eruption subsides. (See how to create the perfect calm down corner.)
But if you can help your child before this flood of adrenaline flows in, notice the subtle cues and take action, you can lessen tantrums, meltdowns, and anger significantly.
What does this mean?
Learn the subtle signals that your kiddo is starting to feel overstimulated.
Bottom line. It’s important.
Common anger signs include:
• Clenched fists
• Getting agitated easily
• Overly emotional
• Easily set off
It’s WAY easier to calm a child down when they aren’t spewing lava (because at this point, the situation might require you to employ your anger rescue plan).
Anger is Normal
Next, let’s remind (and reaffirm) to our kids that it’s okay to be angry.
As we go through life, emotions come up, and we don’t need to stuff them away.
It’s completely normal to feel anger, but the key is learning what to do with those powerful emotions.
If your kiddo suffers from BIG emotions, you’ve just gotta check the life-saving Anger Rescue Kit for Kids. This will epic guide includes over 60 pages and will become your new go-to for helping your child develop appropriate coping strategies.
Take a read through this enlightening article from the imperfect parent, it a nutshell it reminds you that anger is ok, it’s a feeling too.
Before we get into all the awesome ways you can bring calm into your house, I need to stress one final thing:
When your child is angry, having a meltdown, irritated, in fight, flight or freeze mode, they can’t process anymore stimulus.
This is not the time to talk lessons into your child.
This is not a teachable moment.
I know it’s hard. I know, it’s really hard. But you can do it.
If you must talk, trying whispering, or at a minimum talk calmly. (And keep it short).
You could say simple phrases such as
• I love you
• I’m here for you
• I understand
• It’s ok to be mad
Next, gently guide your child to a calm safe spot. Have you thought about creating a calm down corner? We did and it’s been a great addition to our household.
Young kids are not always in control when they get angry, and aggression can follow. It’s very important to guide kids to a safe spot and to keep yourself safe too.
Have you ever used an emotional thermometer? (Grab a free PDF instant download right here)
Talk about what each color of the thermometer means. What does it look like when your kiddo is a tiny bit angry? Do they scrunch up their faces?
If they are getting a little more heated what does that look like? Finally, talk about what BIG anger looks like.
Using a visual thermometer will help your child gain awareness of their big emotions. Consider plucking out coping skills from the giant list below that your kiddo can use at each level of anger on the thermometer.
How to Help An Angry Child Calm Down – 55 Anger Management Strategies for Kids
1. Lazy 8 breathing – See here for breathing with shapes from Coping Skills for Kids
2. Deep breathing – Count to 10, inhale for 3, exhale for 3
3. Color breathing – Imagine your breath as a color, inhale happy colors, exhale anger and anxiety
4. Star breathing – Trace the sides of a star while breathing
5. Blowing bubbles
6. Progressive muscle relaxation
8. Yoga Cards – I like these ones
9. Squeeze a ball or put your hands in your pockets
10. Change scenery
11. Step outside
12. Go for a walk
Mighty Mindful Kids will be like your secret weapon against anger, anxiety, stress and so much more. If you want to help an angry child calm down then start teaching your kiddo these techniques young and they will carry these skills through their entire lives.
13. Go to your serene calm down corner – See here how to create one
14. Sing a song
15. Tell a story from your own childhood (kids LOVE LOVE LOVE this, it works every time on my son)
16. Play with playdough
17. Make a Mr. Angry Sock – take a tennis ball, put it in a sock, draw an angry face, and when your kiddo is mad they can bang Mr. Angry Sock on the floor or outside.
19. Walk on your tiptoes
20. Jump 10 times
21. Run around the room 3 times
22. Name 5 things you see, smell, hear, feel or taste – GO!
23. Big bear hug time
24. Freeze – pause and stop what you are doing for 2 minutes
25. Tear up some paper
26. Drink a glass of water
27. Walk like a dog across the room
28. State your emotion (Fun variation, report your emotions like a weather system – See Mighty Mindful Kids for unique weather calming exercises)
29. Count to 10
30. Count backwards from five
31. Repeat positive affirmations three times – See here for 50 amazing positive affirmations for your kiddo.
32. Have a tickle fight
33. Say a very silly word
34. Taunt your child with a bet that they can’t make a funny face
35. Squeeze and relax your fists
36. Wash your hands
Using calm down cards is an amazing way to take charge of your kiddo’s big emotions. When I notice a big emotion brewing, we grab three cards from this printable set and do whatever the card says. This finds us walking across the floor like a dog, jumping on one foot, giving a big hug and even having a glass of water. Distraction is very important when it comes to diffusing a tense situation.
37. Trace your fingers with your opposite hand – take turns doing each other’s hands
38. Sit in silence for two minutes
39. Put on your favorite program
40. Skip rope
42. Put on a weighted vests
43. Try an indoor swing (love this)
44. Use Essential Oils – Lavender is my go-to.
45. Rock in a rocking chair – I love this one, so pretty and calming.
46. Grab your favorite fidget toy – These are my ABSOLUTE favorite fidget toys. I find myself playing with it ALL the time. It’s super relaxing.
47. Grab your calm down charts/emotion charts
48. Take a bath
50. Use an anger thermometer – Print an instant free download here
51. Do wall pushups
52. Jump on a trampoline
53. Do 10 jumping jacks
54. Drink relaxation tea – I get this brand for my kiddo
6 Books to Help Teach Your Child About Anger (How To Help An Angry Child Calm Down)
It can also be very helpful to read books about anger together. Teaching your child to recognize emotions will go along way to helping them overcome those very emotions.
Teach children to handle their anger after reading this cute dinosaur book! Your children will immediately learn how to control their anger when things don’t go their way.
Rex the dinosaur is angry about everything that doesn’t go his way. Read this book to learn how he can handle his anger with ease. A must-read for parents and kids about anger management.
The Anger Management Workbook for Kids offers kid-friendly 50 exercises and interactive activities to feel happier, calmer, and take control of anger.
This interactive book guides children through the practice of naming their feelings and the sensations that accompany them. Engages children in easy, kid-friendly mindfulness activities.
Helps kids build on their capacity to be mindful, self-regulate, and develop emotional resilience.
When four friends encounter a cranky bear, they decide they must cheer him up. Moose, Lion and Zebra’s outrageous ideas all backfire, which leaves it up to poor, plain Sheep to deal with this beast, who just wants a quiet place to sleep. Whatever will she do? This rhyming story with hilarious illustrations is guaranteed to entertain its readers and its listeners!
I’m Not Bad, I’m Just Mad contains forty activities for issues such as recognizing anger triggers, better problem solving, and communication tips for defusing conflict before it gets out of hand. The workbook explores common lifestyle issues such as lack of sleep that can make anger problems worse. These fun activities will help kids talk about their feelings and learn to control them.
You can use any of these strategies to help bring a little calm into your days.
These expert books know how to help an angry child calm down. We don’t need to go at it alone.
But there is more to it than helping calm your child, we also need to keep you calm.
Let’s talk about you for a minute.
How are you coping?
Resources for parents of high needs children (how to help an angry child calm down)
It’s very important you are able to remain calm, for a few reasons:
1. You are modeling behavior
2. Not to escalate an already bad situation
3. To set the tone of the house
4. To make it safe for your child to move past the anger
I’m going to offer up a few resources/tips to help you remain calm:
- Grab our free S.T.O.P and R.A.I.N printables to hang on your fridge. These little gems will remind you to stay calm in any situation. (You can get them in our free resource area).
- Take advantage of our completely FREE beginner’s 7-day mindfulness guide. Get it here.
- Don’t take insults or rude behavior personally when your child is upset. They are not in their right minds, so to speak.
- Try to listen and support, take a few deep breaths, see here for 60-second relaxation tips for moms.
- Stay close but also give space to your child.
- Don’t over-evaluate when your child is overreacting. Just be.
After your child is calm, then you can talk.
Don’t forget to find support locally. Have you considered play therapy, a child psychologist, or a mommy coffee group?
Does your child ever get angry?
If your kiddo suffers from BIG emotions, you’ve just gotta check out this life-saving tool, the Anger Rescue Kit for Kids. With over 60 pages this will quickly become your new go-to for helping your child develop appropriate coping strategies.
Facebook support groups
One of the hardest parts of parenting a high needs child is finding others that understand what you are going through. My friends and family just don’t get it. There kids (while not perfect) exhibit nowhere near the challenging behavior my little guy does.
I often use Facebook as a support network (after I filter out all the noise) to connect with some other really great moms (who get it) or use it for a safe place to vent.
Here are five of my favorite support groups on Facebook for finding your army and village to help you on your journey and adventure in parenting a high needs child.
Remember, You are not alone!
Note: These are closed groups, meaning your friends and family can not see what you post.
- Mindful Parenting Movement (Mindfulmazing’s new facebook group)
- Calm the Chaos – Run By Lemon Lime Adventures
- Highly Sensitive Children
- Surviving the Storm
- The World’s Okayest Parents
So, remember, there is hope. Now that you have some powerful resources on how to help an angry child calm down, you won’t feel so helpless and alone.
We CAN teach our kids how to tame these big emotions, and they will be better people for it.