How to Help an Angry Child Deal with Negative Emotions

Young children, just like adults, can’t help feeling angry or sad at times.  The difference between a young child and an adult is that adults learn appropriate ways to vent feelings of frustration or anger.  Some toddlers resort to screaming, kicking, crying loudly or hitting when they are upset.

Older children might say mean things like, “I hate you,” or become stubborn and refuse to do what you ask.  Other children can hold their anger inside and become quiet, sullen, or even develop frequent stomachaches or headaches as a result of their negative feelings.

Ask yourself the following questions if your child has frequent anger outbursts:

  • Is your child frequently overtired from lack of sleep or rest?
  • Is he/she hungry?
  • Are naps, meals, and bedtimes kept on a regular schedule?
  • Does your child spend the day going from place to place or is he/she looked after by several different caregivers?
  • Are your child’s toys developmentally appropriate, or are they a source of frustration?
  • Is he or she always being told what to do instead of being given choices?
  • Has there been a change in the household (Mom got a new job, Dad is unavailable on weekends)?
  • Does your child get what he or she wants from tantrums?
  • How do you respond to your child’s anger? What are your verbal and physical responses?