6 Strategies for Dealing with an Angry Child

Mighty Mommy shares six tips for dealing with your child's angry outbursts.

Cheryl Butler
6-minute read
Episode #389

Strategy #4:  Role Model Appropriate Responses

Kids are always observing their environment including how their peers interact with them, what kind of mood their teacher is in and certainly how their parents and caregivers behave and respond to life’s daily, minor challenges like getting stuck in traffic as well as the bigger crises that family’s face, such as a parent losing a job.  No matter what the situation is, our kids are quietly absorbing how the world around them works and how the people in their life respond to these situations.

That’s why it’s so important to take any opportunity, such as when you as a parent are feeling frustrated and angry, to role model appropriate ways to respond to these types of incidents. So for instance if you’re out to dinner and you are having a bad experience with your waitress not getting any of the order correct, you can say something like “Gee, I’m starting to feel very frustrated with our service in the restaurant, but it looks like the place is extra busy tonight, so maybe our waitress just can’t keep up with all the demands.  I’m going to go take a quick walk to the bathroom so I can quickly clear my mind because I don’t want get angry with her and say something rude especially if this bad service isn't really her fault.”

Admitting that you’re angry and losing your patience and you need some time to calm down shows your kids that you’re human too, and teaches them a coping skill on managing their own anger. 

Strategy #5:  Take a Silly Break

One tip that worked for our family when my son would have an angry outburst was to ignore the anger and respond with something really silly.  One afternoon when he was about three years old he was quietly playing with his trucks in the yard and was trying to park them all under one tree.  Well, there wasn't enough room under this particular tree for his 15 or so trucks. By the 7th or 8th truck, he began getting really frustrated because he realized it wasn't going to work. By the time he got to the 11th truck, he was having a complete angry meltdown and didn't want to hear anything from anyone about searching for another solution such as a bigger tree to park the trucks under. Rather than try and reason with an irate pre-schooler, I got down on my knees next to the trucks that had no parking space and began singing a goofy song and then pretended I was going to park them in the birdbath for a carwash. He looked at me for a few very long seconds and then started to laugh. Next thing I know almost every truck was pulling up to our now make-shift carwash and we started giving them pretend baths.

This simple act of silliness diffused the angry outburst he was having and actually added an extra half-hour of playtime to our schedule because now he had something new to do with his trucks.  With 8 kids, many who are now in college or teenagers, I'm still known to interrupt one of their foul moods with some silly tactic such as putting on a ridiculous hat and going out on the front lawn to check the flower beds (oh, the embarrassment for them!).   See Also:  5 Ways to Be a More Playful Parent

Strategy #6: Always Build on the Positive

Make sure that you build on the positive attitudes and actions of your children. Praise your children for their positive behaviors, while rewarding them when they show a cooperative attitude. Positive reinforcement can go a long way in raising a responsible, happy child.

How do you handle your child's angry outbursts? 

Share your thoughts in the comment section atquickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com.  Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.