Angry Child

Parenting | 10 Ways to Support an Angry Child

angry childChildren who are feeling very angry on a regular basis usually have some underlying problem that they need help in expressing.  Having to punish a child for the same repeated behaviour is telling you that there is something else going on, and it is time now to make a new plan to deal with it. Part of this new plan involves reflecting on what the actual issue is and asking why your child is feeling this anger. Ask yourself, how do they act around others? Does this behaviour only come out to you?

Here are some key steps to help you to understand why your child is so angry:

  1. Get a large page and map out your child’s feelings. Name the emotions that you see – note the day and time, what happened before hand? Ask yourself, are they hungry or tired? Did they have a certain activity in school or with their minders this day? What about siblings, what are they doing at this time? Was there contact (if sharing parenting with their other parent)? Try to create a very clear picture of what is going on at that exact time when the anger outbursts occur.
  2. You will need to keep an anger diary for at least a week if the behaviour happens on numerous occasions. Try to see what is similar in each event. What may be prompting the anger outburst? Is there something you can see that is a challenge for your child? If not, don’t give up. Keep the diary, keep questioning, and keep looking. Perhaps ask a close friend to look at it for you, maybe a fresh pair of eyes will help.
  3. The next step is to look at you. Look at all the same questions and more. What is happening for you at this time? Are you just home from work? Are you hungry or tired? Do you have company over? Is there another child over? Are you feeling stressed? Basically, you are trying to see if there is something happening for you which may be causing you to respond to your child in a way that triggers an outburst. Often we can hold on to some anger and let go of it as things improve; however one thing can be enough for you to erupt. Are you erupting?
  4. Hopefully you will have discovered something through this exercise. When you can identify the possible triggers for the anger, then you can set to work. Firstly, if your child is over 2.5 years it should be possible for you to sit with them and explain to them in simple words what you see happening for them. Name the behaviour; try to stay away from blame. You need to be a bit like a commentator of a football match. You are naming only what you see. Then ask your child how they are feeling now.
  5. Tell your child clearly what you need from them, e.g. “I can see you are really angry with me when you are not allowed to stay up late. I feel you kicking me and hitting out. I need you to have good sleep and be able for the next day. I need you not to kick me, because it hurts.”
  6. Encourage a little empathy around the feelings. What they are feeling, e.g. “I know it can be hard to go to bed, especially when it is bright and you can hear me in the kitchen. I know you have lots of stories to tell me.” Also what you are feeling: “I am tired at this time. I really love to hear your stories, but sometimes I have to get jobs done and get organised.”
  7. Make a plan to make a change. If your child is clearly telling you they want more of your time, then plan how you can make this happen. Can you add in quality one-to-one time together each day for 20 minutes? Can you have quality time at the weekends? Talk with your child, e.g. “I hear you saying you would like more time with Daddy. How about we make a calendar and put in pictures of things we can do each day and at the weekend?’”Assure your child that you will stick to that calendar, and do it.
  8. Talk with your child about how they can express anger in healthy ways. Reflect on how you deal with anger. Remember, you are their role model. Help them explore things they can do, depending on their age: jump up and down 10 times, take deep breaths, use words, have a signal, have a special place to sit. You will decide best what works in your home.
  9. When the plan is agreed, thank your child for the chat. Tell them it is good when you share and try to explore what is happening for everyone. Tell them you will talk again in a few days to see how they are feeling.
  10. Help your child to succeed in this new plan. Do not vary the plan when other things go wrong. The plan is for this behaviour only, so use it that way. If there are other issues, deal with them in similar ways but separately.

Let us know how you get on at implementing this plan. Share your stories with other parents in our new One Family Parenting Group on Facebook.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Improve Listening In The Home

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email

Giving Up

Parenting | 10 Ways to Cope When You Feel Like Giving Up

Giving UpMany parents have really bad days and weeks with children and at times we can question ourselves. We can wonder if we are the right person to parent this child. Would someone else do a better job? Would our child be better off with someone else?  Sometimes parents even think about putting children into care as they are feeling so much despair. Everyone has bad days with children, days when we don’t handle situations and behaviours in ways we wish we had. Days when we want to scream and run out the door, days when we do scream and days we wish our children would run out the door!

It is normal to a certain extent to feel this way. Parenting can be very overwhelming and we are often doing it with limited sleep which reduces our coping skills. Parenting is the hardest job in the world at times, and the most unrecognised and unsupported. When doing it on your own it can be even more difficult as you don’t have someone who can take over when you feel you need a break. Even parents in a relationship can feel like they are doing it alone.

It is when these feelings start to set in that it is really important as a parent to reflect on your own self care. Usually when we feel this way there are many other things going on. We are stressed by relationships within our family and our ex partners or we are stressed about money or housing problems. Our heads are full of so many issues that all seem to be going wrong and falling apart. Then when the children start to act up, it is like that’s the final straw. Usually the children are more challenging because they know and feel that you are not present for them. They have needs which are not being met and they don’t know how to tell you about how they feel. All they know is how to act it out.

Can you put certain measures in place to help you recognise when you are starting to neglect your own care, such as:

  1. Learn to recognise your levels of stress. Take time each day to reflect on how you are feeling.
  2. Try to identify things that went well each day, no matter how small they are.
  3. Try not to give all your energy to what is going wrong. Explore who can help you, what steps can you take.
  4. Make a list of the issues you need to resolve. Try to be less critical of yourself. Name the things you are good at, focus on these.
  5. Create time to think and plan – can children go on play dates to allow this happen for you?
  6. Talk with your children about what is going on and help them to form a plan with you. Hear what it is like for them.
  7. Don’t give up. Your children need you and no one can replace you. You need to believe that you are the right person to parent your children.
  8. Join a parenting group to get support from other parents and learn new skills and knowledge which will help you understand your children.
  9. Identify your needs. Where are the gaps? You will need to be creative in finding ways to meet these needs. By parenting yourself you will be able to parent your children.
  10. Seek professional support if you feel really low. Call the askonefamily helpline to talk with someone. Talking can usually help you understand what is going wrong and what changes you can make. Seek support from your GP or contact your local social worker if you feel you need support around mental health, addiction or abuse.

Remember, there are people out there who can and want to support you to parent. Ask for the support if you can. It does not make you a poor parent if you need to get support from others. Nobody can parent on their own, being brave enough to ask for help and support is what makes you a great parent as you recognise that you and your children need help.

Free, confidential information and support is available from the askonefamily helpline on 1890 662212.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming up next week: 10 Ways to Address The Awkward Questions.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Parent Self Care,  10 Ways to Parent Through Stressful Times or  10 ways to Develop Coping Skills In Your Family.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email

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