Children don’t always understand why they get angry or how to handle strong feelings. Anger management activities can teach them how to deal with their emotions in a positive way. Kids who learn self control and harness their feelings in a productive way are better at dealing with every challenge life offers.
Like anyone else, children sometimes get angry. However, kids do not always understand what they are feeling, why they are feeling it or how to express themselves appropriately. This often results in displaced aggression, tantrums, and tears. Parents are often unsure of how to handle the situation.
Forcing the child to stifle their anger is not helpful. So, how do we help them share their feelings without reinforcing negative outbursts? The following six types of anger management activities for kids can help parents and caregivers teach children how to calm themselves. The little ones can also learn to deal with what they are feeling in a positive manner.
1. Put It On Paper
Drawing a picture can help young children share what they are feeling. Such task provides an opportunity to explore the situation, express their emotions safely, and find possible solutions. Older children and teens may find it beneficial to write a note describing their feelings, their perception of what led to those feelings, and ideas for finding a resolution.
Encouraging a child who is often frustrated or angry to keep an art journal, diary-type journal, or a combination of both, can help them sort feelings out. Parents should take measures before such negative experiences become overwhelming. Provide the materials and let them take it from there.
2. Use Relaxation Techniques
Learning ways to calm down on their own can benefit a child into their teen years and beyond. Not only is this a useful skill for dealing with anger, it also helps to reduce stress. One of the simplest things to do is take a series of long, slow, deep breaths. Instruct the child to breathe deeply and exhale slowly. Have them do this four or five times, or more if necessary, during a session.
Counting can distract a child from their anger long enough to regain composure. Try counting to 10 or 20. Or try counting down and finishing with a few deep breaths.
For the child who is prone to angry outbursts, establishing a regular yoga practice can be very helpful. Yoga focuses on slow movements and careful control of breath. These practices calm their mind and body. It has been shown that yoga reduces anxiety and stress, both of which children often express as anger.
3. Provide a Physical Outlet
Some anger management activities for kids are better suited to the very active child. These children need an intense physical release for their anger. One option is martial arts. This type of Asian sport provides regular exercise, teach discipline and self-control, and offer a safe place to punch and kick things without hurting anyone.
Running laps inside or out can help relieve tension. Therefore, sports can be an outlet for angry energy. Younger children will do better in a close environment, like a hallway or family room. Try having them run 10 laps to start. Add a couple more if it will be helpful. For older children, a few laps around the house might do the trick.
Punching a pillow is another option for releasing tension and pent up anger. Letting the child pound it out on a pillow, punching bag or cushion is great upper body exercise. It is also much safer than pounding on a sibling or playmate.
4. Practice Using Feeling Words
One of the most frustrating things for a child is feeling like they are not understood. We can help them with this by teaching and modeling. You can teach them how to use “I” statements to express feelings and needs. Practice saying things like: “I feel angry when” or “I am angry because.” It’s useful to do this through role playing when the child is calm.
Knowing how to express their needs and feelings can also help children prevent situations that lead to anger. Learning to say things like “I don’t want to” and “Please don’t do that” can empower a child. Effective use of language is among the most useful anger management activities for kids. Choosing the right words in a given situation can benefit them throughout life.
5. Remove the Child from the Situation
One of the most underutilized anger management activities for kids is removing them from the situation that triggered this behavior in the first place. A change of venue or some fresh air can help calm the child and let their mind settle. The easiest thing is taking a stroll outside. Encourage the child to breathe in the fresh air and take notice of flowers, clouds, and so on.
Having a calm space indoors for the child to retreat to when upset is also beneficial. Create an area of the house that is comfortable, maybe with fluffy pillows or blankets, where they can relax uninterrupted. This might be a good spot to put writing or drawing materials. Peaceful music is another helpful addition to this space.
7. Be a Calm Influence
When thinking of anger management activities for kids, the focus is usually on having the child do something. Sometimes, the parent or caregiver is the one who must act by remaining a calm influence. It’s easy to be drawn into the chaos that surrounds a child having a meltdown, but that does not help them regain control.
When a parent steps back, takes a deep breath, and maintains composure, she provides a secure foundation for the child to lean on and draw from. That stability lets them know they will be okay.
Each child and each situation are unique. It may be necessary to try several types of anger management activities for kids before you find one that works. It may be that different approaches work on different days. Anger is a normal and healthy emotion. This feeling can also be seen as fuel for pro-activity. Helping a child learn how to manage it and make the most of it is a process that takes time and can feel overwhelming.
We hope that some of these suggestions will be useful to you. Please let us know if you try or have tried any of them and how they worked for you. Do you have any suggestions you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!