5 ways to help kids calm down when they get mad

Many things can cause your toddler or pre-schooler to become mad and start to scream and shout. However it’s important as parents and caregivers to teach young children how to handle their anger so that it doesn’t become self-destructive.
Many things can cause your toddler or pre-schooler to become mad and start to scream and shout.

However it’s important as parents and caregivers to teach them how to handle their anger so that it doesn’t become self-destructive.

We need to help them realise that they will never get what they want by shouting and getting mad, but at the same time teach them that it’s not completely wrong to feel angry either. Sometimes in life it is reasonable and important to feel angry and to express your true feelings.

Understand why kids get mad

Firstly try to understand what it is that’s causing your little one to act out.

When they’re young, toddlers and pre-schoolers can’t always explain why they’re getting mad, but some of the common reasons for screaming and shouting include:
  • Not getting their own way
  • Feeling frustrated at someone or something and not being able to express themselves
  • Feeling exhausted and struggling to move from one activity to another

Learn to manage your own anger

It’s not just about your kids, look at how you’re handling the situation too.

Your little one is screaming and shouting continuously right in front of you, but how do you manage your own anger and prevent yourself from shouting back?

It’s often a lot easier said than done! You might snap and snarl unreasonably and instantly loathe yourself for doing it.

However what your little one desperately needs is for you to help them learn to calm themselves down when they get mad.
5 ways to help kids calm down when they get mad
Different tactics seem to work best for different children and at different times, so experiment with some of these ideas to see which ones work best for your little one.


1. Offering alone time

Offering your little one some ‘alone time’ is not the same as giving them time out. You are not sending them off to their room, but instead asking them if they would like some time on their own to calm down.

They might choose to go off to their room, sit on a step, go outside or even hide behind a curtain, whatever works best for them.

By offering some ‘alone time’ you are helping them to gradually build the skill of calmly walking away for a few minutes from situations when they feel their anger rising uncontrollably.

Try to lead by example too and calmly walk away rather than stomping off when things get tough.

2. Breathing exercises

You can teach kids some simple breathing exercises to help manage their emotions, but when they’re young it can be a little tricky.

However one fun idea is the belly flop exercise!

When they’re feeling angry, teach them to calm down by ‘flopping’ their bellies or breathing in and pushing their bellies outwards as far as they can.

It will automatically help them to take deep breathes and calm them down, and probably make them laugh out loud too!

3. Silly slow counting

Toddlers and pre-schoolers love to count, so make it fun by initating some slow counting when they start to feel angry.

For example, one big smelly kangaroo, two big smelly kangaroos, three big smelly kangaroos.

If they can’t count very far, they can just repeat the exercise with another animal or object until they feel calm.

Concentrating on the numbers distracts them from their anger and automatically slows down their breathing and heart rate and stops all the angry hormones being released.

4. Understand how big the problem really is

Your might feel your little one seems to shout and get angry about everything, but try to find out how big the problem really is.
A classic behaviour technique is to get kids to rate how big the problem is that has made them angry or anxious, perhaps on the scale of 1 to 10 or find your own fun way that they can relate to.

5. Teach kids how to relax 

Tensing all their muscles up and then relaxing them is a great way for kids to turn off their anger.

The 'robot and rag doll' technique is a good way to introduce this to kids.

First they need to stiffen up like a robot and then go floppy like a rag doll.

Repeat this a few times and perhaps make up a dance to go with it to help everyone laugh and relax.

Check out our other Hot Topics on: Image source: mypreciousarrival

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