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What To Say To An Angry Child

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

All Feelings Are OK, Some Actions and Words Are Not!

Many early childhood experts write about how to prevent a child from becoming angry and that's a great thing but you also need a strategy for when they do become angry.

Here's a collection of my 16 best phrases for calming angry children derived from over 43 years of providing care and education to children.

All of my ideas are based on the premise that an angry child is angry because they don't feel heard or understood.

Once they get into that rage stage, it's really hard to get them out. They seem to get "locked" into it somehow. Sometimes just waiting can be the best strategy but here are some calming phrases to try in the meantime.

I don't let people hurt me.

Do you want a tissue? One or two?

Are you more hurt or angry?

Keep breathing until you can tell me how upset you are.

4...3...2...1...breathe.......4....3...2...1...breathe....(do it with them)

Be a star (you can learn this awesome conscious discipline technique here)

Show me (or tell me) how much it hurts


Show me (or tell me) how angry you are

Put your hands in here! (running water)

Push the wall.....harder.....HARDER!!

Would a drink of water help?

Let's go into the next room

Let's go outside

How much time do you need, 2 minutes or 5?

How serious is this problem?

All of the above statements might work. It depends on the child and the situation. Whatever it is, make sure you listen to them after you ask a question. Remember not to judge what they say, but to let them talk and be heard.

Want to know what to say when your child hits, whines, tattles, or refuses to clean their room? Get my free 21-page slideshow, How To Get Your Kids To Listen Without Yelling Or Time-Outs here.

Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, SELF-care facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.

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