The answer to this question is not always obvious.. There is a gray area between normal and abnormal behavior with
children. We expect to see an increase in anger management problems
during certain developmental stages. Two year olds have a reputation for
oppositional behavior, as do teenagers. Other variables that need to be
taken into consideration are the uniqueness of each child, different
values and behavioral expectations in families and cultural differences.
At risk children direct their anger outwardly or inwardly. The
“acting out” child often exhibits problems that raise the concerns of
others outside of the family. If professionals from your child’s school
express concerns this is certainly a red flag. Behaviors to watch out
for at home include violent behavior towards self or others and
destruction of property.
The “acting in” children tend to direct their anger inwardly. These
children often show signs of depression. They may be withdrawn from
friends and family, lose interest in normal activities, and exhibit
changes in sleeping or eating patterns. These children are also the most
likely to “slip through the cracks”; unless the symptoms are profound
they often go unnoticed by parents and other adults.
If you are unsure if your child’s anger is being expressed
appropriately and within normal limits, seek outside help. Talk to other
parents who have a child the same age and compare notes. Discuss your
child’s situation with the school counselor, clergy or other
professionals. If the feedback you get confirms your concerns seek
What can I do to help my child with anger management?
most significant way children learn is to model after the most
important adults in their lives, their parents. Children learn
primarily by what they see you do, not so much by what you tell them to
do. Parents who yell or get physical when they are angry are likely to
have children who do the same. Conversely, parents who model healthy
anger management techniques are likely to have children with fewer anger
Take a look at our book list,
there are books for adults to help you manage your anger and there are
books to help you teach your children to manage their anger. If you
have anger management problems start there first, then model your newly
learned skills to your children and teach them what you have learned.
If you don't have anger management problems purchase a book that offers
you techniques to help your child. There are many techniques to choose
from. Examples include behavioral techniques (i.e. "time out"),
cognitive techniques (i.e. "positive thinking"), and experiential
techniques (i.e. relaxation and guided imagery).