Anger Management,  Coping Skills

Anger Triggers in Kids: Helping your Child Identify & Deal With Anger Triggers

Anger Triggers for Kids: Checklists, Worksheets and Anger Action Plan

Post Preview: Anger triggers in kids and the importance of helping them identify those triggers and learn how to deal with them appropriately. Anger triggers worksheet for kids (free download at the end of the post)

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Being able to identify anger triggers in kids is an important step in your anger management strategy as you will be able to:

  • Avoid some anger-triggering situations, and consequently, prevent the anger outburst
  • Help your kids identify those situations so that:
    • They understand the reasons behind their discomfort – understanding their feelings makes coping with those feelings easier
    • They can look for help at the initial stages before things have turned into a full-blown drama
    • They can take action and deal with their emotions by utilizing learned strategies and coping skills.

You are probably fairly clear on what events or situations trigger those outbursts. But what we are really going to focus on here is how to help THEM identify their own anger triggers and how to DEAL with those situations and events.

What is a trigger?

How can I explain to my kids what a trigger is? A simple explanation and tip:

“A trigger is something that causes a reaction. For example, tickles are the trigger for laughter”
Tip: Here you could start tickling your kid. My kids took turns tickling each other and thought it was hilarious (and at points annoying!)

By the time you finish with this nice tickling activity, you remind them that your tickles were the trigger to their laughter. Then you move into more serious business: anger triggers.

What are anger triggers?

Anger triggers can be situations, moods, actions, anything that makes your kid angry.

Why is it important to identify anger triggers?

If we can identify anger triggers, we can probably:

  • Do things that prevent that situation
  • Learn strategies to help us cope with our emotions

What are the most common anger triggers in kids?

When it comes to our little ones, some of the common triggers are:

  • Tiredness
  • Being hungry
  • Stopping an activity that they enjoy
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Sense of injustice

At the end of this post, you will be able to download our “Anger Triggers Worksheet for Kids” PDF, which includes:

  • our anger triggers list, and
  • a fun anger triggers worksheet for kids.

Identifying anger triggers: a brainstorming session with your kids

A brainstorming session with your kids can be quite a fun activity. You are probably clear on what things make your kids explode, but exploring their own anger triggers will:

  • Help them become aware of those situations that can potentially make them angry
  • Better engage them in creating action plans to deal with their triggers

These are some tips for your brainstorming session:

  • Use a whiteboard to write down everybody´s anger triggers
  • Ask your children what things make them feel angry, and explain that you will, as a team, prepare plans to deal with those situations
  • Take turns naming situations, events, moods or anything that comes to mind that could make you angry.
  • Once you have built a nice list, you will be able to pick a couple of examples to explain two facts of life:
    • Sometimes you can prevent triggers /situations, but
    • Some other times it will be unavoidable.
      Pick two examples from your list:
    • A trigger you can do something to fix /avoid
    • A trigger that can´t be avoided and that will require coping strategies
  • Prepare an action plan for both those examples that you chose (our own examples in the next sections)
  • Keep working through your list in the future

 Anger Triggers Examples Explained to you Kid

  1. An example of anger triggers that you can avoid:
    “Remember how you said that you get grumpy when you get hungry? Mommy can do some things so that it doesn’t happen. Mommy can help you by making sure that dinner is ready by 6pm (15 minutes earlier than usual) and if things get delayed you can munch a healthy snack while you wait! “
  2. An example of a situation you can´t avoid:
    Sometimes, you will not be able to prevent the situation. This is an example that works well to explain this to my son:
    Trigger: “Remember how you said you get very angry when you hurt yourself? Well, we can do our best to prevent that from happening. But there will still be times in which you will hurt yourself. In those situations, I will do my best to help you. I will hug you, console you and help you with breathing exercises so that you feel less pain. But we will not be able to avoid them”

Dealing with anger triggers: an action plan

The examples I shared in the previous section already pre-empted the real objective of this exercise. Identifying anger triggers doesn’t help much unless you do something about them.

In the first case (avoidable situations) we were teaching our children that, once we identify a trigger, we may be able to find solutions.

In the second example we were teaching our kids that, when the situation that makes us angry is unavoidable, we may still be able to make it better thanks to our coping strategies.

Creating your Anger Triggers Action Plan

From your list, chose a trigger to work on an action plan. This is just an example that we worked on ourselves:

Example 1:

Trigger: I get angry when I talk to Mum and she does not respond immediately

Facts: sometimes Mommy is doing something else and can´t respond to me immediately. It does not mean she doesn´t want to talk to me. I´m still super important to her, but I need to wait for my turn (unless it is an emergency like I´m hurting)

Action Plan: What do I need to do to solve this situation?

  • If Mommy is talking, I will wait till she has finished talking
  • If Mommy is listening to my sister, I will wait until she has finished listening
  • Then, I will say: “Excuse me, Mom” to get her attention
  • When Mum is looking into my face it means that she is now ready to listen to me and respond

Role-playing: We repeated this three times and then we role-played. I started talking to his sister and he had to follow those steps.

 Example 2:

What to do when you cannot prevent the situation? Sometimes it just happens, your kid hurts himself, gets frustrated, or you just can´t avoid the situation.

Action Plan:

Anger triggers in kids

Just in case you need a bit of inspiration, this is a list of very common anger triggers in kids:

Frustration: 

1. Loosing in a game

2. Not getting good marks in an exam

3. Failing to perform /accomplish during an activity

4. It rains, can´t play outside

5. Waiting

6. Being told no

Injustice:

7. Somebody does something wrong to me/somebody

8. Somebody cheating in a game

9. Somebody makes fun of me

10. Being left out

11. Feeling ignored

Aversive situation:

12. Hunger

13. Pain / Getting hurt

14. Loud noises / Getting startled

15. Fear /Being scared

16. Feeling overheated

17. Feeling cold

18. Feeling tired

19. Anxiety

Not accessing a reward/activity we wanted:

20. Mom does not let me…(watch tv, go to the swimming pool outing, jump on the trampoline, eat chocolate)

21. Stopping an activity they enjoy

22. Being sent to bed

23. Going to school (when I´m doing something I enjoy better)

Anger Triggers Worksheet- Free Download

Download your “Anger Triggers Worksheet for Kids” below.  It includes the checklist you have just read, and a fun activity (with illustrations) to help the younger ones identify their anger triggers.

ANGER TRIGGERS WORKSHEET DOWNLOAD

Other FREE anger management worksheets and resources for kids

Anger Worksheets for Kids

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