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3 Healthy Ways to Help Your Preschooler With Anger

3 Healthy Ways to Help Your Preschooler With Anger

Anger is a powerful emotion in our culture, one that many adults don't know how to manage and express. So when kids have feelings they can't name and don't yet understand, imagine how easily they can become overwhelmed — and start screaming, yelling, or hitting.

How do we even start to teach our kids to express their anger in more healthy and appropriate ways? Circle of Moms member Jan P., who raised three kids and just recently adopted her granddaughter, likes using "feeling masks" to help children identify emotions. First, the kids make masks that depict the basic emotions: happy, sad, angry, proud, frustrated, etc., Then they practice recognizing their emotions throughout the day by choosing to wear the mask that best represent their mood at the time. This allows them not only to own their emotions but also to express them in safe ways. Wearing the masks also opens up opportunities for talking about why a child might be feeling angry or sad.

Starting an ongoing conversation with your child about feelings, whether through Jan's "feeling masks" or some other method, can only be good for your child and for your relationship with him. Here are some other tips, all shared by Circle of Moms members.

1. Accept the Anger But Not the Screaming

Once anger is identified as a clear emotion, experienced moms have various responses. Tasha M. tells her daughters that anger is a normal emotion, but that they should express it in the privacy of their rooms. Her kids all know that when they want to scream and yell and stomp their feet, they are free to do so in their own spaces, but not in common areas among the whole family.

Lara R. takes a different tactic: She encourages her four-year-old son to tell her he's angry, and why, but to do so without yelling, throwing toys, or breaking things. It's even within bounds for him to pound a pillow or stomp his feet. When he's gotten out the first wave of emotion, she initiates a conversation about how they might address the underlying problem together.

 

2. Teach Kids to Get to the Root of It

Many Circle of Moms members agree with Lara's underlying theory, that anger is a secondary emotion, usually the by-product of fear or sadness. Iysha J. counts herself among this group. When her daughter doesn't have the words to express what she's feeling, she just lets her cry it out. Then, like Lara, she offers comfort and conversation.

3. Be a Role Model

Juleah W. makes the excellent point that we must be good roles models for expressing anger. If we tell our kids to use their words, but they then see us throwing things or hear us yelling and screaming, we undermine the lesson we're trying to teach. Dealing well with anger is hard work, and our kids are more likely to take the easy pathway — copying our behavior — than they are to take on a more difficult task of working through difficult emotions by talking them through.

It's a high bar, but the potential breakthroughs than can be achieved are well worth the effort. For specific tips on how to start the conversation with your child, see The Silver Lining to Your Child's Outbursts.

Image Source: Courtesy of GerryT via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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AurelasRainsong1382721705 AurelasRainsong1382721705 1 year

I think we're going to make feelings masks TODAY. Sounds like what we've been needing. My girl has a huge vocabulary but it all seems to vanish as soon as she's upset.

chrisdeepi chrisdeepi 2 years
ninacooper67480 1 year I also have the sameproblemwith m three eaars old boy as nina cooper said i have a three year old boy who is being a nightmare at the moment hes hitting me and his dad screaming at us and just really not listening to anything we say, ive tried reasoning with him and going down to his level, this just makes him worse and thinks he can hit me in the face. this then makes me very angry and upset. ive actually been very upset this morning after an incident with him smacking me and i ended up really shouting at him. please can someone give me any other answers. help me to help my baby with his anger...he screemin like somebody hit him..sometimes he cannot breath..i am scared of that. please somebod give me an answer.. thank you.
JillHimli JillHimli 2 years
Have guys tried the tactic listed above where the one Mom has taught her kids to go to their rooms & act out their emotion? I do something a little similar to a timeout like that, only I call it a 'ventitout'. If my son becomes inconsolable & I can't redirect him or get on his level to stop his tantrum I tell him to go to his room & ventitout. If he won't go willingly I'll carry him kicking & screaming if I have to. If he won't stay in his room I'll shut the door & make sure he stays in there. It usually only takes 3 mins, 1 minute for each of his years, for him to settle down & when I open the door he's calmer & playing with his toys. Only setback is this is hard to accomplish in public. I usually try to find a private space or use my car for the ventitout zone. Keep in mind during this time I don't tolerate him to throw or hit things, but stomping & sometime screaming is acceptable. If he starts hitting or throwing things I usually bear hug him until he calms down. It took forever to get him used to this, but it's really helped. Our daycare provider says he hardly ever hits/throws people/things anymore...
amyjewell amyjewell 3 years
That's all well and good till you have a deaf 3 year old with no speech
CoMMember13631169338558 CoMMember13631169338558 3 years
i need some more solutions on how to handle a child who is very angry and at that moment not listening to anyone..please help me out as i am afraid this is making my three year old daughter a stubborn child.
ninacooper67480 ninacooper67480 3 years
i have a three year old boy who is being a nightmare at the moment hes hitting me and his dad screaming at us and just really not listening to anything we say, ive tried reasoning with him and going down to his level, this just makes him worse and thinks he can hit me in the face. this then makes me very angry and upset. ive actually been very upset this morning after an incident with him smacking me and i ended up really shouting at him. please can someone give me any other answers.
HaleyWilliams HaleyWilliams 3 years
This was perfect for me today. Really great article; and will start putting this into prespective!
KittyeGood KittyeGood 3 years
That doesn't really help with how to deal with a 2 year old that does those things. She won't let me show her anything so the masks are out. The second I try to sit down and play with her, she starts throwing things at me and telling me to go away.
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