Like adults, children encounter disappointment, frustration, embarrassment, shame, hurt, fear and anxiety.  These feelings can leave them feeling very vulnerable. Each person has a different temperament, and for some children their response to these feelings may be a fit of anger. Anger can make them feel more powerful than those feelings of vulnerability do. Helping a child learn how to thoroughly calm down from a bout of anger is one of the most valuable skills you can teach your child.  Before they can learn to deal effectively with anger, there are three things children need to know.  Firstly, they (and parents) need to know that anger is a normal emotion and it’s not something that needs to be avoided or denied. At times, it’s okay to feel angry.  Next, they need to learn healthy ways of expressing their anger. For some, this might take the form of physical activity while another child might find it helpful to draw or write about their feelings. Finally they need to realize that anger is not intended to be their default coping mechanism.

Listening (not talking) while a young person puts their feelings into words after (and only after) they have calmed down is a lasting way to help kids learn to understand and manage their angry feelings. Using a tool like “The Anger Volcano” facilitates the discussion and exploration of those feelings. Printing off and laminating a copy of this illustration can be another useful resource to have on hand. (This illustration isn’t only useful for use with children. Adults benefit from asking themselves the same questions.)

If a child has recurring problems with anger, I highly recommend that parents read and work through the article at this link –  It contains a lot of good common sense and there are links to tools that may be helpful.   

Jenny Billingham

(If you have a topic that you’d like more information about and think might interest other parents, please don’t hesitate to email me with suggestions at  Thanks.)