How to Help Your Child with Anxiety Manage Their Anger

Photo of Hispanic boy with curly dark hair with an expression of anger on his face and his arms raised and hands clenched at his side. Photo could represent a mix of anger and anxiety in this boy and the need for online solution focused therapy for kids and teens with anxiety in Illinois and Florida.

Managing anger can be especially hard for your child with anxiety because these emotions often get mixed together, creating a complex web of feelings that are tough to handle. As a parent, it’s important to understand that anxiety and anger can show up in different ways, like outbursts and tantrums, or withdrawal and silent frustration.

Recognizing these signs is the first step in helping kids and teens manage their emotions effectively. By creating a supportive and understanding environment, you can equip your child with the tools they need to handle both their anger and anxiety in healthy ways.

Anger Can be a Sign of Anxiety

Anxiety often creates intense emotional stress in kids and teens who may not know how to express or manage it. When a child feels anxious, they might experience overwhelming worry, fear, or a sense of losing control. These feelings can be difficult to articulate, especially for young children who are still developing their emotional vocabulary and coping mechanisms. As a result, the built-up tension and frustration from their anxiety may present as anger or aggressive behavior.

This connection between anxiety and anger is rooted in the body’s natural “fight-or-flight” response. When a child perceives a threat—whether it’s a fear of failure, social embarrassment, or separation from a parent—their body reacts by preparing to either fight the threat or flee from it. For some children, this response triggers anger as a way to defend themselves against the perceived danger. Essentially, anger becomes a protective mechanism, a way to regain a sense of control in situations where they feel vulnerable or scared.

Understanding this link is important for you as the parent. By recognizing that anger can be a sign of underlying anxiety, you can respond with empathy and support rather than punishment. This approach helps your child feel understood and teaches them healthier ways to express and manage their emotions.

4 Ways to Help Your Child with Anxiety Manage their Anger

Whether your child is dealing with normal feelings of anger or expressing deeper emotional distress such as anxiety, it’s important to help your child manage their anger in a responsible way. Here are 4 ways to do just that.

Recognize that Your Child’s Anger is Normal and Healthy

Understanding that your child’s anger is normal and healthy means looking at why they’re angry, how long it lasts, and how they show it. Anger that comes from specific problems, like having trouble with homework or feeling treated unfairly, is usually normal. Check if your child’s reaction fits the situation. Normal anger doesn’t last long and happens only once in a while, going away quickly without getting worse. However, if your child gets angry often, very intensely, or for a long time, it might mean there are deeper issues.

You can help your child by showing them how to manage anger well and giving them a safe place to share their feelings. Encouraging kids to talk about their emotions and teaching them how to solve problems can help them deal with anger in a healthy way. If your child’s anger is always very strong, out of proportion, or harmful, it might be necessary to get help from a mental health professional.

Remember though, your job is not to STOP them from feeling anger. It’s to help them calm down and eventually process their anger in constructive, not destructive ways.

You might try the following statements:

  • “It’s OK to be angry. Would you like my help?”
  • “I love you and you’re safe.”
  • “I wonder if you need a sandwich, a nap or a hug?”

Stay Calm Yourself

If only your child chose to be angry on the day most convenient for you! Whatever you do, take a deep breath. Staying calm yourself helps to de-escalate the situation. When you react with anger or frustration, it can make your child’s emotions even stronger, making it harder to resolve the issue peacefully.

A calm attitude allows you to think more clearly and respond thoughtfully. This helps you provide the support and guidance your child needs to manage their anger. It also creates a safe and stable environment where your child feels understood and secure, which is critical for their emotional growth.

Not sure how to stay calm? Here are some suggestions:

  • Breathe deeply
  • Use positive self-talk
  • Focus on your child’s resilience and strengths
  • Remind yourself of how much you love your child
  • Do not take your child’s anger personally

Validate Your Child’s Anger

Never tell your child they shouldn’t be feeling something they’re feeling. If they’re feeling frustrated and angry, chances are there is a very good reason for it. So, validate their anger. It can help your child feel understood and heard. When you acknowledge your child’s feelings, it shows respect for their emotions and that you take them seriously. Validation can also reduce the intensity of their anger.

This can be as simple as saying, “You seem very upset right now,” instead of saying, “Hey, calm down, there’s no reason to get so angry.” Validating their feelings will help them identify their emotions and not feel bad or ashamed of them.

At the same time, it’s important not to condone destructive behavior. If your child is hitting, lashing out or out of control, let them know there are better ways to express their anger.

You might try the following statements:

  • “It’s okay to be angry, but I won’t allow you to hit. We need to make sure everyone is safe.”
  • “It’s not OK to…would you like to try…instead?”
  • “I can see you’re really angry with me. Can we start over?”
  • “Is there anything you need me to understand?”
  • “I’m getting frustrated, and I’m going to move over here to calm down.”

Help Your Child with Anxiety Release Their Energy

Help your child release their energy when they’re angry because pent-up energy can make the anger worse and harder to manage. Physical activity can help reduce stress and calm the mind, making it easier for kids to deal with their emotions in a healthy way. When kids release their energy, they are less likely to act out or express their anger in harmful ways.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Encourage physical activity

Activities like running, biking, or playing sports can help kids burn off excess energy and feel calmer.

  • Provide creative outlets

Drawing, painting, or playing a musical instrument can help kids express their emotions and reduce anger.

  • Practice deep breathing

Teaching kids deep breathing exercises can help them relax and reduce the intensity of their anger.

  • Use stress balls or fidget toys

These items can give kids a physical way to release tension and stay focused.

  • Set up a safe space

Create a quiet, safe area where kids can go to calm down and release their energy without distractions.

Feeling anger is a natural part of life. Don’t make your child feel bad for their anger and don’t feel like you’ve somehow failed as a parent because your child experiences anger. Anger exists and we all have to learn to process it in healthy ways.

Begin Online Therapy for Kids and Teens with Anxiety in Illinois and now Florida!

If your child or teen is struggling with anxiety, there is hope! Anxiety is highly treatable and online anxiety treatment at Briefly Counseling can help.

Using Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, I help kids and teens reduce their anxiety and build resilience so they can become a happier, more confident version of themselves.

And kids love being able to receive counseling from the comfort and privacy of their own home. Studies have consistently proven that online therapy delivers equal results to in-office counseling.

As an experienced and caring therapist, I love providing counseling for anxiety. To start your child’s counseling journey, call me at 224-236-2296 or email to schedule a FREE 20-minute consultation.

Helena Madsen, MA, LCPC is the founder of Briefly Counseling. I specialize in providing online short-term anxiety treatment for kids and teens ages 7 – 18 as well as Christian counseling.

Whether you’re on the North Shore, in Naperville, Chicago, Champaign, Barrington, Libertyville, Glenview, or downstate Illinois, I can help.

And effective 2024, I am now licensed in Florida! For parents in Jacksonville, Pensacola, Destin, Crestview, Coral Gables, Weston, Parkland, Naples, Marco Island, and Pinecrest, I have immediate openings.

Schedule your appointment or consultation today. I look forward to working with your child to quickly and effectively help them in activating their strengths, resources, and resilience, in order to live with confidence and hope.