Anger is a complex and difficult emotion for young children to deal with so having an awareness of anger management as an adult can really help. We need to help children learn how to recognise, talk about and manage their anger: not while they’re angry, but while they’re calm and happy in order to give them tools they can put to use when they really need them.
These free cards are available in English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Icelandic, Spanish and Swedish.
There is no ‘one right solution’ for anger management in children, as what works for one child may not work for another. That’s why learning how to calm themselves may be quite a long-term project, it takes time to try different methods and ideas.
Also, the level of anger may change the effectiveness of a strategy. For example, if they are just a little angry stopping for a cool drink might be effective, but if it’s a full-blown tantrum this might mean the drink is thrown across the room and they may manage better with a small, quiet, private space where they can talk to or cry with their favourite teddy.
3 simple steps toward anger management
Identify their own emotions
In order to deal with anger it’s important for children to learn to differentiate between their own varying emotions, and the intensity of their feelings. Pop over to 10 Activities and 10 You Tube Songs to Explore Emotions for a good roundup of ideas. It’s one of the most popular posts on this site. If you’d like to use an emotions song based on 5 Little Ducks there’s a free video and lyrics sheet you can download here.
The level of intensity is also important. Children need to learn to recognise their own anger as it’s building to give them time to implement a strategy and calm themselves. Many suggest using an emotional thermometer. I have included a copy of this graphic in with the calming strategy cards download in case you find it helpful and would like to use it.
2. Teach calming strategies
During periods when your child is calm spend time reading about and talking about anger and other emotions, the effects they have and how we can learn ways to prevent ourselves from becoming really angry.
Download these English 23 free calming strategy cards HERE.
- Here is the Estonian version. Thanks go to Riinika for this translation.
- You can connect with Riinika on the Estonian Teaching Community Facebook page.
- Here is the Finnish version. Thanks go to Sanna Hemnell for this translation.
- Here is the French version. Thanks go to Cécile Delrieu for this translation.
- You can request to join Cécile’ s facebook group here.
- Here is the Icelandic version.
- Thanks go to Linda Ósk Sigurðardóttir for this translation. You can connect with Linda on Instagram.
- Here is the Spanish version.
- Thanks go to Marina Griñón for this translation. Marina collaborates on a Spanish blog focused on autism. You can connect with Marina at El sonido de la hierba al crecer.
- Here is the Swedish version. Thanks go to Sanna Hemnell (again!) for this translation.
Print them on card, and use them to:
- talk to children about feelings of anger and different options that are available for cooling down
- prompt children to decide what strategies might suit them best, or what they’d like to try first
- remind or encourage angry children to make use of their chosen strategies
- remember: you or your child might think of other methods you’d like to try that aren’t included here!
After your child has decided what strategies they’d like to try, put those strategy cards somewhere nearby for an emergency reminder. If you have another strategy you want to use, write it on one of the spare blank cards and draw a related picture as a prompt.
3. Practice, practice, practice
It’s great to practice these strategies while your child is calm or in a good mood, but it’s most important to actually see if they help during periods of mild to acute anger. What sounds like a good idea when you’re happy, may not work so well when temper rises. Be prepared to try different methods over a long period till you find a couple of strategies that seem to be the most effective for you.
I hope you find these cards useful and wish you happy teaching and learning!