Many parents are at a complete loss at how to handle an angry child. Self-soothing is a vital skill for your child to use.

Here are 10 effective ways you can teach your child, to help them calm down.

1. Three deep breaths

Take three long, slow, deep breaths before reacting. A big breath in, and the longest, slowest breath out they can manage.

2. Calm button

Help your child to set a ‘calm button’ to help them feel calmer when they feel angry or upset.

  • Your child needs to be into a completely calm state. Perhaps when they’re just about to go to sleep or relaxing on the sofa.
  • When they are feeling as calm as possible, they should set a ‘calm button’ by gently squeezing their left palm by putting their thumb on their palm, and the other fingers squeezing the back of their hand. Really tune in to how calm they are.
  • They should do this up to 15 times.
  • Then when they feel angry or upset, they can squeeze their calm button, and instantly feel calmer.

3. Hold a physical object

Some children like to hold something like a pebble or coin to remind them to stay calm. Younger children may like to hug a soft toy, blanket or cushion.

4. Centre themselves

Switch off, focus inward, and take a minute to centre themselves.

5. Use a Mantra

Children can be taught to say a mantra quietly to themselves such as ‘I’m strong, I’m brave and I’ll handle this.’ Or I’m calm, I’m relaxed and I’m safe’

6. Move away

Find somewhere they can be on their own for a few minutes.

7. Distract themselves

Your child can distract themselves by reading, playing, or listening to the words of a relevant song.

8. Energetic dancing or movements

Your child may find it helps to get rid of some of their angry energy by dancing vigorously to some music, such as ‘The angry dance’ from the musical Billy Elliott

9. Talk it through

Some children find it really useful to rant for 10 minutes about a situation they have found difficult. Your role, as a parent, is to listen and empathise, being sure not to criticise, comment or give any advice. This will allow your child to work through the emotion and start thinking of solutions themselves.

10. Re-frame thoughts

Often children are upset because they feel someone has deliberately treated them badly, or they feel they have been unfairly victimised. It can be very useful to empathise with their feelings and then help them think of a more helpful, accurate or realistic way of what is really going on. This is the basis of cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT.

Talk to your child about all the different methods they could use. Get them to pick one and try it out next time they feel angry. If one doesn’t work, there’s still 9 more to try out!

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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