kid holding breath
Photo by Tim Pierce

By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT – Counselor’s Corner

As a marriage and family counselor in north Texas, I have spent the better part of my career helping people,both young and old,how to manage anger.  It doesn’t have a quick fix, however, there are things that we can teach our children to help them manage this savage beast.

Begin only with one feeling for the discussion:  we will select mad this time.  Perhaps talk about a time when you felt mad.  Explain that your actions could make you feel more mad or less mad.  For example, if you’re in the car driving and someone cuts you off, screaming at the other person and trying to drive faster to pass them would actually make you feel more mad.  So that’s not a good thing to do for oneself (or even for safety).  To calm yourself down in this situation, say you might try calm talk to yourself such as Most of the drivers on the road drive safely, thank goodness.  But this guy doesn’t,what a pity as he could cause a wreck.  Or you could play your favorite kind of music.  Or you could practice some relaxing breathing to soothe yourself.

The point is that it is our responsibility to manage our own emotions!  Tell your child that no one can make them feel mad,they allow themselves to become mad,and that they really do have control over their own emotions.  Ask your son or daughter how they try to control anger and see what they come up with.  Reinforce any good ideas they have.  Then add a few more suggestions such as:

  1. Try to talk it out with the other person.  Teach them to ask for what they want/need.
  2. Splash face with cool water.
  3. Find something that calms such as coloring, dolls, pets, etc. and spend time with it.
  4. Draw a picture of how you feel. Give it to the other person with a note, Let’s talk.
  5. Do something that’s tiring such as bike riding, dancing, exercising, etc.

What is most important is that your child have a repertoire of responses that can be used at a moment’s notice when he or she becomes angry.   One more thing:  please make sure you role-model managing your anger as your child can learn being explosive from you as well.

My book for elementary-age children to read along with their parent or teacher, Life’s Not Always Fair:  A Child’s Guide to Managing Emotions, is devoted to teaching children about their feelings.  {Editor’s Note:  This popular, award-winning book for children is a must read if you want to help your child know how to soothe themselves when they are mad, sad, scared or confused.  It’s a fun book to read as its co-authored by Sharon’s cocker spaniel Nicholas.  It offers very practical tips for the child to implement immediately.  Order from or 800-822-2801}.  First begin a discussion about feelings in a neutral, calm time with your child.  Discuss that feelings or moods or emotions are how we feel inside and that there are good feelings like being happy or calm or proud.  We want to feel these kinds of feelings a lot.  Then there are other feelings that we don’t want to have often such as feeling mad, sad, scared or confused.

Also see Sharon’s other column SmiileNotes  Family Fun or Family Numb


Sharon Scott

Sharon Scott

Sharon is the author of eight award-winning books including four on the topic of peer to peer pressure.

The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.

Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!

A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.

Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
Sharon Scott

Latest posts by Sharon Scott (see all) Scott, LPC, LMFTCounselor's CornerActivities for Kids,Ages and Stages,Emotional and Social Well-being,ParentingBy Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT - Counselor's CornerAs a marriage and family counselor in north Texas, I have spent the better part of my career helping people,both young and old,how to manage anger.  It doesn't have a quick fix, however, there are things that we can teach our children...Parenting and Family Fun Activities for Kids