Check out the courses we offer
Knowledge Base » Mental Health » Strategies for Teaching Children and Teens about Anger Management

Strategies for Teaching Children and Teens about Anger Management

Last updated on 25th April 2024

Understanding and managing emotions, particularly anger, is an important skill for children and teens to develop. By teaching effective anger management techniques, educators, parents and caregivers can empower young people to navigate conflicts, build healthier relationships and improve emotional well-being. 

Although anger is a normal emotion to experience, extreme anger or anger that is difficult to control can be detrimental to many aspects of a young person’s life. Statistics from Gitnux show that 64% of young people experience uncontrollable anger and that approximately 1 in 5 people have an anger problem or difficulties controlling their anger.

With anger being a growing problem, teaching young people how to manage their anger appropriately is more important than ever. Today, we will explore age-appropriate approaches and strategies to teach anger management and emphasise the importance of emotional awareness, healthy expression, conflict resolution, stress reduction and positive role modelling.

The Importance of Anger Education

The Importance of Anger Education

Anger management education teaches children and teenagers the invaluable skills necessary for managing negative emotions. By understanding the triggers of their anger and the different ways that anger can manifest, young people can improve their empathy, self-regulation and resilience and lay the foundation for lifelong emotional well-being.

There are many reasons why anger management education is so important for children and teenagers, including:

  • Improves emotional regulation
    Learning to manage anger effectively is a fundamental aspect of emotional regulation. Children and adolescents who understand their emotions and have strategies to cope with anger are better equipped to navigate challenging situations without resorting to destructive behaviour. Because of the link between anger and other mental health conditions, helping young people with anger management can also have a positive impact on their long-term mental health.
  • Helps to build healthier relationships
    Uncontrolled anger can strain relationships with family, friends and peers. By learning to manage their anger, children and teens develop the ability to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts peacefully and express themselves assertively. These skills lay the foundation for healthy, respectful relationships built on mutual understanding and trust.
  • Improves communication
    Anger often arises from frustration or feelings of being misunderstood. Through anger education, young people learn to identify and express their emotions in a constructive manner. By learning effective communication strategies, such as using “I” statements and active listening, they can express their needs and concerns without resorting to aggression or hostility which can help to facilitate clearer and more meaningful interactions with others.
  • Teaches conflict resolution
    Conflict is a natural part of human interaction, but how individuals handle conflict can significantly impact their relationships and well-being. Anger education equips children and adolescents with conflict resolution skills, such as empathy, perspective-taking and negotiation and enables them to resolve disputes peacefully and constructively.
  • Reduces the risk of behavioural issues
    Uncontrolled anger can manifest in various behavioural issues, such as aggression, defiance or impulsivity. By teaching children and teens how to recognise and manage their anger, educators and caregivers help reduce the risk of them engaging in destructive behaviours. Instead, young people learn to channel their emotions productively, make informed decisions and exercise self-control which reduces the likelihood of disciplinary problems or negative consequences.
  • Improves academic and social success
    Anger management skills are essential for academic and social success. Children and adolescents who can regulate their emotions effectively are better able to focus on learning, form positive relationships with peers and teachers and engage in cooperative activities both inside and outside the classroom.

Age-Appropriate Approaches

Tailoring anger management techniques to the specific developmental stages of children and teenagers is essential for effective intervention.

Younger Children (Ages 5-11)

Strategies for teaching younger children anger management strategies will be very different from strategies for older children. Anger management should be taught in a way that is understandable, age-appropriate and engaging for young children. Some strategies you could use include:

  • Storytelling and role-playing
    Young children often respond well to storytelling and imaginative play. Use age-appropriate stories or role-playing scenarios to highlight situations that trigger anger and model appropriate ways to handle them. Encourage children to act out different roles and discuss alternative responses.
  • Visual aids and worksheets
    Utilise visual aids such as emotion charts, feelings flashcards and anger thermometers to help younger children identify and label their emotions. Provide worksheets or colouring activities that prompt them to express their feelings and explore coping strategies in a creative and engaging manner.
  • Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques
    Teach simple breathing exercises and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, to help younger children calm their bodies and minds when they feel angry or upset. Make these exercises fun by incorporating playful imagery or animal-themed relaxation techniques.
  • Social skills training
    Focus on teaching basic social skills, such as sharing, taking turns and using polite language, as part of anger management education. Role-play social situations where conflicts may arise and guide children in using problem-solving skills and assertive communication to resolve disagreements peacefully.
  • Positive reinforcement and rewards
    Encourage positive behaviour by providing praise, encouragement and rewards when children demonstrate effective anger management skills. Use a token system or sticker charts to track progress and motivate continued effort in managing anger constructively.
Teenagers (Ages 12-18)

Teenagers (Ages 12-18)

Teenagers have a stronger understanding of emotions, compared to younger children. Tailoring strategies to young people’s interests and ensuring the activity is something they are likely to engage in can make the learning much more effective. Some strategies you could use include:

  • Group discussions and peer support
    Teenagers often benefit from peer interaction and support. Facilitate group discussions or peer support groups where teenagers can share their experiences, discuss common triggers for anger and brainstorm coping strategies together. Encourage mutual support and validation among peers.
  • Cognitive-behavioural techniques
    Introduce cognitive-behavioural techniques, such as cognitive restructuring and problem-solving skills training, to help teenagers identify and challenge negative thought patterns associated with anger. Teach them to reframe situations more positively and develop adaptive coping strategies.
  • Journaling and self-reflection
    Encourage teenagers to keep a journal where they can reflect on their emotions, triggers for anger and coping strategies. Writing allows them to process their thoughts and feelings privately, gain insight into their patterns of behaviour and track their progress in managing anger over time.
  • Mindfulness and mind-body practices
    Introduce mindfulness meditation, yoga or other mind-body practices to help teenagers cultivate awareness of their emotions and develop greater self-regulation. Teach them mindfulness techniques for managing stress and responding mindfully rather than reactively to anger triggers.
  • Real-life application and role modelling
    Provide opportunities for teenagers to apply anger management skills in real-life situations, such as conflict resolution exercises, peer mediation or community service projects. Be a positive role model by demonstrating effective anger management techniques and creating a supportive and empathetic environment.

By tailoring anger management strategies to the developmental needs and interests of younger children and teenagers, educators and caregivers can empower them to navigate anger more effectively and build healthier relationships with themselves and others.

Emotional Awareness

Emotional awareness lays the foundation for effective anger management. By helping children and teens recognise and label their emotions, including anger, they can be empowered to understand their feelings and respond to them in healthy ways.

The type of activities and exercises you plan to improve emotional awareness will depend on the age and understanding of the children. Some examples include:

  • Emotion charades
    Play a game of emotion charades where children and teens take turns acting out different emotions, including anger, without speaking. Encourage the group to guess the emotion being portrayed and discuss the physical and facial cues associated with each emotion.
  • Emotion wheel
    Create an emotion wheel or chart with various emotions, including anger, sadness, joy and fear. Encourage children to identify and label their current emotions throughout the day. Use the wheel as a visual aid to prompt discussions about what triggers different emotions and how to cope with them effectively.
  • Feelings journal
    Provide children and teens with a feelings journal where they can write or draw about their emotions each day. Encourage them to reflect on what made them feel a certain way, how they responded to those emotions and any coping strategies they used. Use the journal as a tool for self-reflection and discussion.
  • Mindful breathing
    Teach children and teens simple mindful breathing exercises to help them connect with their emotions and calm their minds. Encourage them to take slow, deep breaths while focusing their attention on the physical sensations of breathing. Use mindfulness as a way to increase awareness of emotions without judgement.
  • Emotion faces worksheet
    Use worksheets or printouts with different facial expressions depicting various emotions, including anger. Ask children and teens to identify and label the emotions portrayed in each face. Discuss the different ways people express anger and how to recognise it in themselves and others.
  • Emotion check-ins
    Incorporate regular emotion check-ins during group discussions or classroom activities. Ask children and teens to share how they’re feeling at the beginning and end of each session, using words or emojis to represent their emotions. Use these check-ins as opportunities to validate their feelings and provide support.
  • Empathy building activities
    Engage children and teens in activities that promote empathy and perspective-taking, such as role-playing scenarios where they imagine how others might feel in different situations. Encourage them to consider the impact of their actions on others’ emotions and develop greater empathy and understanding.

By incorporating these activities and exercises into their daily routines, educators and caregivers can help children and teens develop stronger emotional awareness and recognition of their feelings, including anger. This improved self-awareness lays the groundwork for effective anger management and healthier emotional expression.

Healthy Expression

Healthy Expression

Teaching children and teens how to express their anger in constructive ways is essential for their emotional well-being and the health of their relationships. By providing them with healthy outlets for expressing anger, young people can be empowered to communicate their feelings effectively without resorting to aggression or hostility.

Some ways you can encourage healthy expression are:

  • Effective communication
    Teaching children and teens to use “I” statements, such as “I feel angry when…” instead of blaming or accusing others, promotes assertive communication and encourages empathy. By expressing their feelings in a non-confrontational manner, they can convey their emotions while encouraging open dialogue and problem-solving.
  • Journaling
    Encouraging children and teens to journal about their feelings of anger provides a private and safe outlet for self-expression. Writing allows them to process their emotions, identify triggers and explore potential solutions. Journaling also promotes self-awareness and reflection, which can help them gain insights into their thoughts, patterns of behaviour and emotions.
  • Creative outlets
    Engaging in creative activities like art and music provides children and teens with alternative ways to express their anger creatively. Through painting, drawing, sculpting or playing musical instruments, they can channel their emotions into productive outlets. Creative expression allows children to improve their self-discovery and release any pent-up emotions in a healthy way.
  • Physical activity
    Encouraging children and teens to engage in physical activities like sports, exercise or outdoor play can help them release built-up tension and reduce feelings of anger. Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, which promote feelings of well-being and relaxation. Additionally, team sports and group activities create social connections and provide opportunities for positive peer interaction.
  • Constructive problem-solving
    Teach children and teens constructive problem-solving skills to address the underlying issues contributing to their anger. Encourage them to brainstorm possible solutions, evaluate their effectiveness and implement strategies to resolve conflicts or overcome challenges. By empowering them to take proactive steps to address the root causes of their anger, they gain a sense of control and agency over their emotions.
  • Modelling healthy expression
    Adults, including parents, teachers and caregivers, play an important role in modelling healthy expression of anger. By demonstrating patience, empathy and assertive communication in their own interactions, they set a positive example for children and teens to follow. Consistent modelling of healthy expression reinforces the importance of managing anger constructively and helps to create a supportive and nurturing environment.

Teaching children and teenagers how to express their anger in constructive ways equips them with essential life skills for managing emotions, resolving conflicts and building healthier relationships. By providing them with a variety of tools and outlets for expression, young people can be empowered to navigate the complexities of anger with resilience, empathy and self-awareness.

Conflict Resolution

Teaching conflict resolution skills is essential for children and teens to navigate interpersonal conflicts effectively and manage their anger constructively. By emphasising conflict resolution techniques, educators and caregivers can empower young people to address conflicts constructively and build healthier relationships. 

Some conflict resolution techniques that can be beneficial include:

  • Active listening
    Teach children and teens the importance of active listening in conflict resolution. Encourage them to pay attention to what the other person is saying without interrupting or formulating a response in their head. Model active listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding to show understanding and paraphrasing what the other person has said to ensure clarity.
  • Empathy
    Help children and teens develop empathy by encouraging them to consider the thoughts, feelings and perspectives of others involved in the conflict. Guide them in putting themselves in the other person’s shoes and understanding how their actions or words may have impacted them. Emphasise the importance of expressing empathy through validating the other person’s emotions and showing genuine concern for their well-being.
  • “I” statements
    Teach children and teens to express their feelings and needs using “I” statements rather than blaming or accusing others. Encourage them to communicate assertively by stating how they feel, why they feel that way and what they need or want in a non-confrontational manner. Model the use of “I” statements in conflict resolution scenarios to demonstrate effective communication.
  • Negotiation
    Guide children and teens in developing negotiation skills to find mutually agreeable solutions to conflicts. Encourage them to brainstorm possible solutions together and identify common goals or interests. Teach them the importance of compromise and flexibility in reaching a resolution that addresses the needs of all parties involved. Emphasise the value of seeking win-win outcomes where everyone feels heard and respected.
  • Problem-solving
    Facilitate problem-solving discussions where children and teens collaboratively identify the root causes of conflicts and brainstorm strategies to address them. Encourage them to focus on finding constructive solutions rather than dwelling on past grievances or assigning blame. Provide guidance and support as they work through the conflict resolution process and offer feedback and encouragement along the way.
  • Practice and role-playing
    Provide opportunities for children and teens to practise conflict resolution skills through role-playing exercises or real-life scenarios. Create safe environments where they can role-play different conflict situations and experiment with applying active listening, empathy and negotiation techniques. Offer constructive feedback and encouragement to reinforce their efforts and promote continuous improvement.

Stress Reduction

Understanding the link between stress and anger is essential for effective anger management. When individuals experience stress, whether from internal or external sources, it can trigger feelings of frustration, irritability and ultimately anger. By addressing stress proactively and teaching stress reduction techniques, we can help children and teens manage their anger more effectively. 

Stress triggers the body’s fight or flight response, a natural reaction designed to prepare us to confront or flee from perceived threats. During this response, the body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which increase heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension. These physiological changes can heighten emotional arousal and make individuals more reactive to perceived provocations, which can increase the likelihood of experiencing anger.

Chronic stress can lead to heightened emotional reactivity, making individuals more prone to experiencing anger in response to minor frustrations or setbacks. When stress levels are elevated over an extended period, individuals may become more irritable, impatient and quick to anger. This heightened emotional sensitivity can make it challenging to manage anger effectively and lead to outbursts or aggressive behaviour.

Stress can impair cognitive functioning, making it difficult for individuals to think clearly, problem-solve or exercise self-control. When faced with stressors, individuals may become more focused on perceived threats or sources of frustration, leading to rumination and negative thought patterns. This cognitive narrowing can exacerbate feelings of anger and make it harder to regulate emotions effectively. Over time, chronic stressors can contribute to a build-up of anger and resentment, as individuals may feel overwhelmed by ongoing challenges or unresolved issues. Prolonged exposure to stress can erode coping resources and resilience and make it harder to manage emotions effectively, leading to a cycle of escalating anger and stress.

Some stress reduction techniques that can be helpful for young children and teenagers include:

  • Mindful breathing and meditation
    For younger children, teaching simple mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing or ‘belly breathing’, can help them calm their minds and bodies when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. Encourage them to take slow, deep breaths and focus their attention on the sensation of breathing in and out. For teenagers, mindfulness meditation can teach them to focus their attention on the present moment without judgement. Encourage them to practise mindfulness regularly, whether through guided meditation sessions or mindful walking.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
    This is a beneficial stress reduction technique for people of all ages. Progressive muscle relaxation exercises, where they systematically tense and then relax different muscle groups in their body, can help to release physical tension and promote relaxation.
  • Sensory activities
    Sensory activities can be beneficial for younger children. Engage children in sensory activities such as playing with kinetic sand, listening to calming music or using scented oils or playdough to create a soothing environment.
  • Journaling
    For older children and teenagers, keeping a stress journal where they can write about their thoughts, feelings and experiences related to stress can help them process their emotions, gain perspective and identify effective coping strategies.
  • Physical activity
    Promote regular physical activity as a natural stress reliever for children and teenagers. Encourage them to engage in activities they enjoy, whether it’s playing sports, going for a run or practising yoga. Physical exercise releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress levels.
  • Relaxation techniques
    Relaxation techniques such as visualisation, guided imagery or yoga can be adapted to different age groups. Encourage children and teenagers to practise these techniques regularly to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
Positive Role Modelling

Positive Role Modelling

Positive role modelling by adults, including parents and teachers, is important for teaching children and teens healthy anger management behaviours. Adults should demonstrate self-awareness by recognising and acknowledging their own emotions, including anger, in a healthy and constructive manner. This might involve openly discussing their feelings with children and teenagers and modelling appropriate ways to express and manage anger.

Adults should also actively listen to young people when they express their feelings, including anger, without judgement or interruption. By demonstrating empathy and understanding, adults validate the emotions of young people and encourage open communication.

When discussing their own feelings of anger or frustration, adults should model assertive communication by using “I” statements. For example, saying “I feel upset when…” instead of placing blame or making accusatory statements fosters healthier communication and conflict resolution skills.

Adults should strive to remain calm and composed, even in challenging situations that may evoke feelings of anger or frustration. By modelling self-control and emotional regulation, adults teach young people the importance of managing anger in a healthy and constructive manner. If adults find themselves becoming overwhelmed or angry, they should demonstrate the importance of taking breaks to cool down and regain composure. This might involve stepping away from the situation temporarily, practising relaxation techniques or engaging in self-care activities.

It can also be beneficial for adults to model accountability and responsibility by apologising when they express anger inappropriately or harmfully. By acknowledging their mistakes and making amends, adults demonstrate the importance of repairing relationships and resolving conflicts peacefully. Adults can also demonstrate the importance of seeking support and guidance when dealing with difficult emotions, including anger. This might involve seeking assistance from a therapist, counsellor or support group to learn healthy coping strategies and communication skills.

Encouraging children and teenagers to engage in healthy outlets for managing anger, such as physical exercise, creative expression or mindfulness practices can also be beneficial. By modelling these behaviours themselves, adults reinforce the importance of self-care and stress management.

By consistently modelling healthy anger management behaviours, adults can positively influence the emotional development and well-being of young people. Through their actions and examples, adults teach young people valuable skills for recognising, expressing and managing anger in constructive ways.

Conclusion

In conclusion, teaching children and teens effective anger management skills is essential for their emotional well-being, social development and overall success in life. In the long term, teaching children and teens effective anger management skills encourages emotional resilience, improves interpersonal relationships and enhances overall well-being. 

Educators, parents and caregivers are encouraged to proactively engage in this important aspect of a child’s education and recognise its significant impact on their present and future success. By investing in anger management education, young people can be empowered to navigate life’s challenges with empathy, self-control and confidence.

Anger management course

Anger Management Awareness

Just £20

Study online and gain a full CPD certificate posted out to you the very next working day.

Take a look at this course


About the author

Nicole Murphy

Nicole Murphy

Nicole graduated with a First-Class Honours degree in Psychology in 2013. She works as a writer and editor and tries to combine all her passions - writing, education, and psychology. Outside of work, Nicole loves to travel, go to the beach, and drink a lot of coffee! She is currently training to climb Machu Picchu in Peru.



Similar posts