Last week was our ” anger management activities for kids ” week. My 10-year-old son has special needs. He has been struggling with his feelings of frustration and anger triggered by our relocation to a new country. We have been working at home and, unlike some other occasions, my daughter (7 y.o.) has also been full on participating. We are not new to this, but to my surprise, it seems to be working this time! Today, I will write about what we started doing last week. In my next post, I will list the reasons why I think we have been so successful this time.
- How do I explain to my kid what anger is and its function?
- What does anger look like? How angry am I?
- Anger management activities for kids
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1.How do I explain to my kid what anger is? Why do we feel angry?
Before we start teaching anger management activities for kids, we need to talk to our kids about anger. There are some anger facts about anger that I explained to my children:
1. Anger is an emotion. When I feel angry I may feel irritable, tense, and anxious. I may also have negative thoughts.
2. Anger is not bad.
3. Anger has a function: your body is telling you that something is bothering you.
4. We all feel angry sometimes. Mum and Dad also feel angry sometimes.
We all shared examples of situations in which we felt angry. And my son just loved Everybody Feels Angry!. I think he could really relate to these kids´stories.
5. We can learn ways that help us control our anger. Sometimes we will need to solve a problem. Some other times we will not be able to fix what is bothering us, or we will not know exactly what is causing these feelings. In those cases, we can still learn ways that help us control our anger.
If you need more ideas on how to explain anger to your child, there is one book that we always use to work on anger management: “What to Do When Your Temper Flares. A Kids Guide to Overcoming Problems With Anger“ by Dawn Hueber. It´s an amazing resource (Winner of 2008 Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Recipient: Self-Improvement). It is a book to be read together with children, with easy examples and metaphors to help kids understand the anger and how it affects them. If I had to choose just one book to work on anger management, this would be the one.
2.What does anger look like? How angry am I? Anger chart: 5-point visual scale.
Our next step this week has been to talk about the different degrees of anger. To help us express how angry we are (or how happy!), we used a visual scale. Visual scales are used not only within the scope of special needs but also with children in general, since it provides them with clues that help them express the intensity of an emotion, feeling or sensation (anxiety, anger, pain …)
For each level of the scale, we have been discussing how we feel on that level (1 happy / 5 extremely angry) and how it shows.
3.Anger management activities for kids.
The next step has been talking about all the things we can do when we are at each level. For level 1 and 2, since we are quite happy, we just need to keep on doing whatever is working for us. When it comes to levels 3, 4 and 5, we have been building a menu of activities that will help us calm down and control our emotions.
17 Anger management activities for kids (downloadable booklet with visual clues at the end of the list!)
- Ask Mummy for help
Exercises that help us relax (breathing exercises):
- Breathing exercise 1: pretend you are smelling a flower /pretend you are blowing a candle
- Lazy 8 Breathing exercise
- Deep breathing while Mum counts to 10
Exercises that help us relax (relaxation):
- Progressive muscle relaxation exercises (post on this coming soon )
Taking a break from the situation- physical space:
- Moving to a different room from where the problem is happening
- Step out to the garden
- Mum/Dad take me for a walk
Taking a break from the situation- move to a new fun activity:
- Watch a favourite tv program
- Mum tells a story
- Play a game in computer/tablet
- Play board games
Physical activity to burn energy:
- Bounce-on ball
- Run around the couch
- Stop / Think / Do – Stop when you are very angry / Think what alternatives you have to solve the problem / Implement the chosen one
- Start counting (1- 10)
You can download these 17 anger management activities for kids here: (with visual clues to help them browse through the menu)
In our son´s case, he finds it extremely difficult to self-regulate, so once he is in levels 3, 4 or 5, the first thing he needs to do is “ask for Mum´s help”. Then we can both choose an activity from our visual menu. My objective is for him to be able to do it on his own in the future. My daughter can already start working on selecting her own strategies, initially relying on our visual menu.
What are you anger management activities for kids?
Further reading related to the topic:
Coming next in the blog:
2.Breathing techniques: Lazy 8 Breathing– why it has been the only breathing technique that has worked well for us in the past.
Fearing the back-to-school blues, there are really good tips for you in the post “Happy first day of school: how to beat the back-to-school blues”.
See you soon! If you have not downloaded the booklet, you can also subscribe below:
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