Doors slamming. Teeth gritted. Feet stomping. The anger just rolls from such a tiny body and leaves you feeling helpless. You are doing everything you can to keep your cool, “It’s going to be okay” is all you seem to be able to muster. Your child is convinced the world is against him and that it is for sure NOT going to be okay. As the door slams, you slump to the ground with your hands over your face and wonder… what could I possibly say. Here are 13 helpful phrases to calm an angry child are perfect for those heated moments.
You are not alone. In fact, time and time again, I am reminded of just how many of us struggle to have the words to say to calm an angry child. We’ve been taught that no child should speak to an adult like that, yet deep down we know they just don’t mean it either.
What to Say to Calm an Angry Child
- I love you. It is incredibly important to remind your angry child that you still love them. That no matter what they say to you, you will indeed love them. These three words should be repeated in a calm manner as often as your child will hear you.
- I see that you are upset. Letting a child know that you can physically see their anger helps them become self aware of what is happening to their body when they are angry. It allows you the chance to talk to them about the situation without trying to solve the problem immediately.
- It is okay to be angry. Validate their emotions. Yes, they might be going off the deep end over something you don’t truly understand, but right now that doesn’t matter. They need to see the rational adult validating their feelings.
- Would you like my help? You might have read that the best suggestion for an angry child is to give them a hug. However, some children will downright refuse any touch or help in their most heightened emotions. Giving them choice puts ownership on them and allows them the ability to accept or deny your strategies and help.
- I wonder if… Children don’t always have the ability to know why they are upset and what is the underlying cause of their frustrations. Offer an idea such as “I wonder if you need to eat something. I wonder if you could use a nap. I wonder if you need a hug.”
- I am going to… When your child is screaming at you or stomping, they are often looking for your reaction. Staying calm and collected is essential. However, letting your child know your moves and plans is also key in letting them know what is coming next. “I am going to wait over here until you are ready. I am going to move closer to you so you know where I am. I am going to wait out in the hall until you finish screaming. “
- Would you like to try…. While this is not the time to rationalize with your child, it is okay to offer your help. Often times a child is expressing extreme anger because they don’t know how to self regulate. You can offer many calming strategies or suggestions for help. I would suggest only suggesting one and then waiting some time before speaking again.
- Can we start over? Sometimes, we all just need a do over. Sometimes, kids don’t even realize they are getting worked up or emotional until it is too late and their brains have already entered the flight or fight response. Offering a simple do-over can be a great way to get through the frustrations.
- I am sure we can find a solution later… Now is not the time to try to reason with your child. They might want an answer now. They might want to argue now. Now is not the time. Once they are calm and they have left the “flight or fight” response you can start to address what made them so upset in the first place.
- It is not okay to… It is important to set limits and be consistent. Let your child know that it is okay to have these big emotions and you will love them through these explosions, but it is never okay to hit or hurt others.
- You are safe… One thing that causes children to act out with anger is fear. They could be afraid of what will happen when the fit is over, they could be worried you will be mad at them, or worse they may actually fear for their safety. Remind them in a calm and collected voice that they are safe.
- I remember last time we tried… If your child is just beginning this journey of big emotions and hurt feelings, they might remember everything you have been trying up until now. They might need reminders of what works and what doesn’t. The hope is that with each outburst, things start to return to calm a little faster each time.
- I will be here when you are ready… Above all, remind your child you are not leaving them. Sometimes, we as parents need breaks too! We need to step away from the situation to keep our cool, however, our children need to know we are there for them. Letting them know exactly where you are going and how they can find you when they are ready is a great way to give them reassurance and avoid telling them to “calm down”.
Remember, loving an angry child is hard. It is exhausting for both you and your child. It is a journey that can’t be solved or traveled in one day. Most importantly, remember you are definitely not alone in this journey.
If you are looking for some amazing books on parenting an angry child, I would highly recommend The Explosive Child and The Whole Brain Child. Both have been extremely revolutionary in my parenting strategies with my child with intense emotions.
Print this Free Angry Child Phrases Cheat Sheet
This post comes with a free printable to help with you in a bind.
I have made a simple printable for you that has all of these phrases in a simple and easy to display format. Place it on the fridge, in a frame or even in your child’s calm down spot so they remember them as well. Don’t get caught struggling to remember your options!
This printable simplifies it!
Here is a sneak preview…
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable, plus join my weekly newsletter! Click Here to Download and Subscribe
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator.
In fact, I have recently created a free e-course that I think is perfect for you. It is the ten secrets to parenting an anxious child. Often times, the root of anger and big emotions is a feeling of anxiety and overwhelm. With this free course, you will be given tips for survival that begin with you but that’s not all. You will be given a community of like minded people that are struggling with the same struggles as you!
Click here to learn more about Calm the Chaos: The Secrets to Parenting an Anxious Child here.