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Anger Activities for Kids: Welcoming All Emotions


It's important to help kids at an early age to cope with and manage their emotions and handle difficult situations. Discover these anger management activities for kids.

You know the signs: the bright red face, the clenched fists, tears, yelling—every parent or caregiver has to deal with an angry child from time to time. And when your child is angry, it can be stressful for you, teachers, classmates, and siblings.

But while handling an angry child is tough, that doesn’t mean anger is a bad emotion.

In fact, anger can be a valuable tool for protecting ourselves from harm. The key is to teach your child to manage anger effectively and channel it into other outlets when needed. Luckily, anger management activities for kids are here to save the day. With a little practice, your child can learn how to handle their frustration—before boiling over.1

6 Anger Activities for Kids

Teaching emotions to children is extremely important for early childhood social emotional learning and can involve managing strong feelings, like anger. When it comes to anger management strategies, providing activities for a child to process and control this feeling can be beneficial. Some activities that can help them calm down and manage their angry emotions can look like the following:

#1 Get Moving

Movement is an effective way for young children to work through the adrenaline release that accompanies angry feelings.2 While these strategies won’t work when your child needs to stay seated at their desk in the classroom, teach them to use movement to release pent-up energy and reduce feelings of frustration during free-play times.

Some easy do-anywhere movements include:

  • Jumping up and down
  • Doing push-ups on the floor
  • Marching in place
  • Stretching
  • Jumping jacks
  • Jogging in place
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#2 Use Touch

Research has found that firm pressure on the body activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This is known as deep touch pressure, and it’s a quick way to produce feelings of calm.3

Your child can do this for themselves by:

  • Giving themselves a tight hug
  • Squeezing a stress ball or clay
  • Pressing the palms of the hands together, counting to four, and releasing

#3 Scribble

Vigorous scribbling is a surprisingly effective way to channel anger. After scribbling until their anger has calmed a bit, you can encourage them to move on to a drawing activity like #4.

#4 Draw a Feelings Heart

If your child is calm enough to sit, have them try drawing a “feelings heart” and filling it in with what their anger looks like. This is a good way to get them talking with you about what caused their anger, and what other feelings are there, too. There are plenty of coloring resources you can use to help your child draw their emotions as a method of reflection.

#5 Do a Mad Dance

Dance is an excellent way to release tension and frustration. Encourage your child to spin, stomp, leap, and twirl out all those mad feelings.

#6 Deep Breathing Exercises

Meditation has proven benefits for kids, and the most basic meditation technique—focusing on the breath—is easy to learn.4 Breathing exercises are helpful anger management activities for young children, kindergarten and up.

First, show your child how to make sure they’re breathing into their belly by placing their hands on their tummy and watching them rise as they take a full deep breath.

Next, practice a simple deep breathing exercise, for example:

  • Breathe in for a 5-count
  • Hold for a 5-count
  • Breathe out for a 10-count

Tips for Providing Safe Anger Outlets

It’s also important to provide safe outlets for managing strong emotions. We’ve listed a few below:

  • Avoid suggesting punching or hitting – You might assume punching a pillow is a good outlet for anger. However, research has found that punching isn’t an effective tension reliever. Instead, it creates a mental link between anger and hitting.5
  • Gently squeeze flailing arms if necessary – If your child is already physically acting out with flailing arms or punching, you may need to hold their arms to prevent anyone from getting hurt. Do this gently and with permission. Ask if you can provide “arm squeezies” to help them calm down.
  • Ask your child about their needs – Being held or squeezed gently may be soothing for some children when they’re feeling overloaded. For others, touch can be overstimulating when they’re already feeling flooded. Be sure to check in by communicating with your child before using touch as a soother.
  • Wait to talk – One of the calming strategies for kids is giving them time to process their emotions. Give your child time to calm down before trying to talk. In the midst of an angry outburst, your child’s emotional mind isn’t communicating with their rational mind.6 At this point, talking may not be effective because they can’t process your words while experiencing these strong feelings. Stick to repeating a simple phrase like:
    • “I hear you”
    • “I’m here”
    • “I get it”
    • “I love you”
  • Validate and listen – Nothing is more frustrating when you’re angry than being told to calm down. Instead, defuse anger by making sure the angry person feels heard. Without trying to solve the problem immediately, let your child know that you hear and care that they are frustrated.

Finding the Root Cause

Anger is often a reaction to an underlying emotion that’s frightening or that makes us feel vulnerable. Some psychologists consider anger to be a secondary emotion—an emotion that covers a primal feeling like fear, sadness, or shame.

So, while an anger management activity can help distract your child if they’re already at the point of an angry outburst, it’s also important to talk about what else is going on. Understanding the root cause and possible triggers of their angry emotions can then help them better manage their feelings.

When your child has calmed down, try to:

  • Talk about how they felt before they got angry—this can help identify and understand the source of their anger
  • Listen attentively to their concerns and validate their feelings
  • Talk about using problem solving skills for kids to fix underlying problems before they get bigger1

Welcome Every Feeling with Slumberkins

Many of us were raised in families where anger wasn’t a feeling we were supposed to express. If you were taught that way, you may struggle with allowing your child space for appropriate expressions of anger and frustration.

However, with time and practice, both you and your child will find the right place for anger in the spectrum of emotions.

Slumberkins is here to help you navigate tricky feelings like anger, sadness, and fear in healing and positive ways. Our collection of resources for caregivers includes lots of helpful activities like Conflict Resolution and Emotional Wellbeing stories, coloring sheets, affirmations, and more.


Sources:

  1. Child Mind Institute. How to help children calm down. https://childmind.org/article/how-to-help-children-calm-down/
  2. Journal Of Early And Intensive Behavior Intervention. Anger management interventions. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ848672.pdf
  3. Occupational Therapy International. The immediate effects of deep pressure on young people with autism and severe intellectual difficulties: Demonstrating individual differences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5612681/
  4. Journal of Adolescent Health. Breathing awareness meditation and LifeSkills Training programs influence upon ambulatory blood pressure and sodium excretion among African American adolescents. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21185525/
  5. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Does venting anger feed or extinguish the flame? Catharsis, rumination, distraction, anger, and aggressive responding. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0146167202289002
  6. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Does venting anger feed or extinguish the flame? Catharsis, rumination, distraction, anger, and aggressive responding. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0146167202289002
  7. Child Mind Institute. Angry kids: Dealing with explosive behavior. https://childmind.org/article/angry-kids-dealing-with-explosive-behavior/

1 comment

  • Lynn Geddie

    Thank you for these fabulous ideas! I am in Louisiana visiting 2 young grands and knew my kids best friends were coming with their 3. I brought a suitcase with Slumberkins to introduce them to the world of feelings. Then this pops up. I will certainly use this on my large crew at home!❤️


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