If your child has an angry outburst firstly, stay calm and help your child feel understood. Remember your child isn’t being a problem, they’re having a problem! You may feel mortified that your child is still having meltdowns, but losing your temper isn’t going to help. So stay utterly calm and help them feel you understand.
Say something like ‘You seem really upset and frustrated. You really want that and you’re furious I won’t let you have it.’
When your child recovers, say: ‘Do you want a hug?
And then say: ‘I’m glad you’ve managed to calm yourself down now. We’ll chat later.’
If they apologise, thank them, but don’t let them have what they had the outburst over.
And don’t try to tell them off at this point, as they’re probably too emotional to deal with it.

Secondly, later, help them work out what they’ll do differently next time.
This is really important.
When your child has had a chance to calm down, go to their room, or somewhere private, and say ‘we need to have a chat about what happened earlier.’
They really won’t want to, so you’ll need to be firm. Don’t lecture them, but ask them questions

  • What happened earlier?
  • What were you feeling?
  • What was going on inside your head?
  • What did you want?
  • Was that a good way to get what you wanted?
  • What could you do differently next time to make it more likely you get what you want?
  • How will you remember to do that?
  • Is there anything I can do to help you?
  • How could you make up for what happened?
  • What would be a better way to deal with that feeling?
  • So tell me again – what would you do if that situation happened again?

Finally, find ways to help your child with their self-control. To create a gap between something happening and them reacting.

  • Could it be imagining traffic lights? Red means stop. Amber means think of the right thing to do and green means go ahead and do it.
  • Or a remote control, with a button to freeze-frame the action and think of how they want to react?
  • Or taking 3 deep breaths while they think about how to respond?
  • Or a mantra such as ‘I can stay calm’ or ‘I can handle this.’
  • Or something to hold in their pocket to remind them to stay calm.

Ask your child what would work for them and ask how they’ll remember to try it next time.

So the 3 tips to help you deal with your child’s angry outburst are:

  1. Stay calm and help your child feel understood.
  2. Later, help them work out what they’ll do differently next time.
  3. Find ways to help them with their self-control.

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Anger management for 5 year olds

child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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