A 5 Step Anger Management Plan for Children
“Always forgive your enemies.
Nothing annoys them so much.” Oscar Wilde
Managing anger is the biggest emotional
issue that most children face. Children who can learn
to manage their anger have a head start on handling
fears and other emotions.
Currently, our community is undecided
about how to handle anger. In fact, anger is discouraged
as we see no place for it in homes, schools or community.
‘Civilised people don’t get angry’
seems to be the accepted wisdom so we tend to encourage
children to bottle up anger rather than let it out.
There are four ways anger is dealt with
and only the fourth one in this list should be considered
healthy. These are:
1. Muzzle it – Bury anger deep-down
and it will go away is the attitude! This doesn’t
work for many children as anger just simmers and doesn’t
2. Muscle it – Some children lash
out physically so that a friend, sibling or parent literally
feels their anger.
3. Mouth it – Verbal abuse is
usually hurtful and backfires on the angry person.
4. Manage it – Anger can be expressed
in ways that are not hurtful to anyone including themselves.
The following five steps can form the
basis of an anger management program for children and
1. Recognise it: The first step
is to help children recognise when they get angry. What
are the physical signs? What are they thinking? We are
all different but tension, heavy breathing and clenched
teeth are common reactions.
2. Name it: Develop a vocabulary
with your child around anger. “Mad as a snake”,
“about to lose it”, “short fuse”
are some possibilities. Children can probably generate
more! Giving the emotion a name is the first step to
3. Choose it: Help children recognise
that they have a choice to stay in control or lose control
when they get angry.
4. Say it: Encouraging children
to express how they feel verbally is healthy. Yelling
at someone when they are angry is not. The use of I
statements is one way of letting others know how they
feel. ‘I feel really mad when you say nasty things
to me. I feel like …’ is one way of being
heard and letting the anger out.
5. Let it(out): Help children
find a legitimate physical outlet for their anger. They
may go for a run, belt a pillow or play a physical game
to let their frustration out. They may even pour their
anger into a letter, some work or a productive activity.
The maxim for managing anger in healthy
ways should be: “There is nothing so bad that
we can’t talk about it. However there are behaviours
that we don’t engage in when we are angry.”