How to Deal with an Angry Child

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Mom using megaphone to yell at her teen daughter, the opposite of calm parenting

How to handle angry children is one of the most popular questions I get asked.

But calming an angry child is not just about saying: "Can you take a few breaths and calm down?" "I'm ready to listen when you are calm." "I know you're upset, we can talk about it when you are calm."

Those are fine, sure. But do they work in the heat of the moment?

Sometimes.

And when it doesn't, why not?

Because emotions are contagious. And if we are upset It's nearly impossible for us to yell our children into calming down. I mean, does it work for you?

The bottom line is that we aren't calm when we're expecting our kids to be!

Kirk Martin from Celebrate Calm says:

When we focus on calming ourselves, own anxiety, worry, frustration, perfectionism and need for your kids to do things your way, you will discover three things: (1) When your kids act out, you don't react and lecture and take it personally. Instead, you are able to respond with calm, confident authority. (2) You have the clarity to see that that child screaming at you is really crying out for help. And instead of you needing the child to behave so that you can behave, you become the trusted leader and authority figure who provides and protects. (3) You begin to calm situations instead of escalating them. You find yourself naturally connecting with your kids, which always makes them more compliant and helpful.

And I have found that calm parenting often begins with self-care! I used play tennis, runo to dinner with friends, and get the occasional massage. For the near future, those are not options anymore.

But the biggest change I've made was in December of 2018. I took a class on meditation. Woman meditating in nature; this is one way to practice calm parenting

I noticed a difference right away. Soon, my friends noticed. I don't know if my teens noticed (not that they'd tell me) but I have noticed that they are talking to me a lot more. I know I'm calmer in general now and my girls trust that I can handle whatever they throw my way. Again, Kirk Martin:

When I make controlling and calming myself a priority, it enables me to be much more giving and outward-focused than when my soul is anxious. So the greatest gift I give my family is not what I do for them. Rather, it is learning to control myself so they don't have to manage my emotions or walk on eggshells.

The next time your child is upset and needs to calm down, I suggest that you walk away and reflect. Ask yourself "How am I feeling? What's happening inside of me right now? Is it possible my child has picked up on my emotional state?"

Then you can take a few, deep breaths. And attend to your child in a calm way. Then, saying 

"Can you take a few breaths and calm down?" "I'm ready to listen when you are calm." "I know you're upset, we can talk about it when you are calm."

 can be effective. 

Want a tool to help? Download Take 5 for a great tool to use with upset kids (it works for upset moms, too)!