Anger Management for Parents

What is anger?

Anger is a natural emotion. It’s often a response to feeling threatened, mistreated, or blocked from reaching a goal. Anger can be healthy when it gives energy to correct wrongs. But anger that is out of control can be dangerous for your child and for others.

Being a parent is a tough job. It can be stressful and lasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Stresses such as job, marriage, or money seem worse when you have a crying baby who does not sleep much. Babies and young children are very demanding. This can be hard to deal with, especially if you have no one to turn to for a break from the kids. Relatives may live far away and you may not know neighbors well enough to ask for help.

Many parents feel angry when they are stressed. When there are serious problems within a family, everyone in the family may feel angry much of the time. The anger can become a big problem, and guilt about it can add to the problem. Most people who hit their children in anger feel more stress than they can handle.

What is anger management?

Managing anger does not mean that you never feel angry or that you hold in your anger and never express it. Learning to manage anger means:

  • Knowing what triggers your anger
  • Being aware that you are getting angry
  • Finding healthy ways to deal with your anger

Healthy ways to deal with anger include:

  • Take a time out. Take time to cool down. Take 15 minutes or more to go for a walk or into another room.
  • Distract yourself. Do something physical like walking, jogging, or bicycling. Listen to music and sing along. Find something funny to think about. Sometimes thinking of something silly when you are angry is just enough to break the anger and help you to think more calmly about the problem.
  • Practice relaxation techniques.
    • Take several deep, slow breaths.
    • Relax all of your muscles one group at a time–for example, start with your forehead and scalp muscles, then the jaws, the neck, and so on.
    • Imagine a comforting or pleasant scene.
  • Delay your responses. Count to 10, or to 50. Use self talk, such as, “I do not have to let this bother me. This will pass. It’s not a big deal.”
  • Express what you feel in words. Use “I” statements, such as “I feel that…” rather than sounding like you are blaming the other person. Practice saying what you need in a calm and respectful way–for example, “That is not OK with me.” Don’t shout or curse.
  • Talk about it. Talking with a trusted friend, family member, healthcare provider, or counselor about life stresses can help you calm down.

If you are afraid that you or someone else will hit, shake, or otherwise hurt your child, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. You can get in touch with a local support group in your area by contacting:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-11-19
Last reviewed: 2013-10-24
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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