Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
Anger management is an essential skill that not only helps children learn to manage their anger but to use it constructively to assert themselves and make positive changes.
It’s not just about facing fewer outbursts; it’s about teaching kids to understand, manage, and regulate their emotions, a core aspect of social-emotional learning.
The Importance of Anger Management
Anger is a natural emotion that we all experience. However, anger creates very fierce and intense physiological responses in our bodies that can be extremely hard to control. This is overwhelming, even for a lot of adults, and can trigger our fight-or-flight response.
That’s where anger management skills come in.
When we equip children with the ability to recognize triggers, express anger in healthy ways, and use practical techniques to calm down, anger can motivate them to solve problems, stand up for themselves, and make positive changes.
Why are some kids more prone to angry outbursts than others?
Anger management can be more challenging for some individuals compared to others due to varying levels of distress tolerance.
Distress tolerance is a person’s ability to withstand negative emotions or stressful situations without becoming overwhelmed.
A certain amount of stress is healthy – it motivates us to get things done. But once the amount of stress you’re experiencing surpasses your stress tolerance level, you get overwhelmed.
Likewise, everyone has a breaking point – the maximum amount of stress you can tolerate before exploding.
In the diagram, you can see that Person A has significantly less distress tolerance than Person B. In fact, their breaking point level is marked below Person B’s distress tolerance level. This means they can only tolerate a small amount of stress before becoming too overwhelmed to cope.
Children with anger management issues often have very low distress tolerance levels, and their breaking point may not be far from the tolerance level.
You can gradually increase distress tolerance levels over time by slowly being exposed to manageable amounts of stress, using the right coping strategies to stay calm, and developing the right anger management skills.
Books About Kids Anger Management
One way to help kids develop anger management skills is through books.
Many fantastic children’s books are available that help them learn about anger and how to cope with it.
Train Your Angry Dragon
Train Your Angry Dragon by Steve Herman is a children’s book that forms part of the “My Dragon Books” series. This book focuses on teaching children about emotions and anger management in fun and engaging ways.
The story revolves around a boy and his pet dragon, who tends to get angry and upset, posing the question of how to handle such a situation.
The narrative unfolds as the boy learns and implements various techniques to help his dragon manage its anger. This book offers a unique and imaginative way to explore the theme of anger management with young kids.
Roaring Mad Riley
Roaring Mad Riley is a story about anger management for kids that is both a picture and activity book, making it fun to learn how to pause and cool down when anger strikes.
The story includes simple exercises and practice activities for confidently taming your temper and handling anger.
How to Take The Grrrr Out of Anger
How to Take The Grrrr Out of Anger is an anger management book for older kids, ages 8+.
This book speaks directly to kids, using a blend of humor, engaging illustrations, and useful advice to teach children to express anger in healthy ways.
Printable Anger Management Activities for Kids
Coping with Anger and Sadness – Activity Book
This 18-page booklet covers feeling angry, feeling grumpy, and feeling sadness. Often, when people feel other strong emotions, they act mad, so these sadness sheets are helpful, too.
These are designed to be read aloud with your child; they’re age-appropriate for elementary students but should be adult-led.
Understanding and Coping with Anger Booklet
This more advanced 23-page activity book on understanding anger covers a wide range of strategies for understanding and coping with anger.
This activity book is designed to empower kids with knowledge and skills. As they progress, they’ll learn to manage their anger and use it constructively to assert themselves and make positive changes.
Topics covered include:
- Understanding Anger
- Uncover the nature of anger and why it’s a normal part of the human experience.
- Recognizing the Signs of Anger
- Learn to identify the physical, emotional, and behavioral signals that you or someone else is angry.
- Being Angry with Yourself
- A look into the reasons behind self-directed anger and strategies for self-compassion.
- Healthy vs. Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger
- Differentiate between positive ways to express anger and actions that might worsen the situation.
- Anger Coping
- Practical techniques to keep your cool and navigate through angry emotions.
- Communicating Anger Effectively
- How to express anger through ‘I’ statements to facilitate understanding and respect.
- Identify common anger triggers
- Anger as a Mask for Other Feelings
- Investigate how anger can sometimes hide other emotions and learn to address what’s really going on.
Effective Anger Management & Coping Skills for Kids
It’s important to teach your child healthy anger management skills.
When your child knows how to identify anger in their body and knows the right anger coping skills to use when they’re mad – they’ll be able to (eventually) self-monitor and use coping strategies at the earliest signs of anger.
Until then, you’ll have to help them with these skills by modeling them and coaching your child to use them when needed.
Kids Anger Management skills to try:
- Take a break – One of the most important skills. Taking a break and re-regulating before expressing your anger will reduce angry outbursts.
- Deep Breathing – Deep breathing exercises help calm our bodies down, lessening the physiological response to anger and making it easier to cope.
- Exercise – Exercising releases endorphins, which improve mood. It also helps break down cortisol and adrenaline (the stress hormones).
- Yoga – Another great way to release anger. It provides the benefits of exercise and deep breathing while also providing proprioceptive and vestibular input.
- Access to a Sensory Room – Sensory rooms allow kids to explore self-regulation techniques in a controlled environment. Sensory rooms should be integrated into learning environments to provide a safe haven for emotional management.
- Model Healthy Anger Management Skills – Children learn more from what they see us doing than from what we tell them to do. If you tell your child to take deep breaths and take a break when they get mad, but you’re screaming and throwing things, they will not learn to manage their anger appropriately.
- Visualization or 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding – Visualization and 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding are two helpful coping strategies for children. Download the free visual guides below.
Granted, this part can be challenging, especially for children who struggle with emotional self-regulation.
These skills must be taught and practiced when your child is not angry. You can not teach kids anger management when they’re feeling angry.
There are lots of different anger games out there to help teach kids anger management.
Children learn best through play, so games are one of the best ways to introduce anger management concepts to kids.
But kids will also need plenty of real-life practice, which they’ll only get from being angry and working through it.
The more they practice, the better they will be.
Here are some anger games to try:
By incorporating these books, printables, games, strategies, and tools, you’re helping your children master healthy anger management skills. This will help them take control of one of the hardest emotions to manage and use to problem-solve, stick up for themselves, and make positive changes now and in the future.