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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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How do I teach my son how to control his temper

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How do I teach my son how to control his temper?
Hello and thanks for using!

Does his temper seem to be a problem at school as well?? If so, contact the school counselor or school psychologist about having him participate in an anger management group. Many children struggle with this concept and need some guidance and practice to control angry feelings in acceptable ways. There are many books written for children on this topic that may help him to learn some new strategies for coping with anger -- when you call the school counselor, ask if they have a parent lending library that you might be able to access to borrow those types of books.

Modeling appropriate anger management will be important so that your son can see what it looks like. We all get angry. Let him see that and then allow him to see the healthy ways that you cool down.

At a time when he's NOT angry, talk to him about different tools that can be effective and practice them together. Here's a short list:

1. Taking slow, deep breaths.
2. Counting slowly to 10.
3. Just stop. Remove yourself from the situation so you can think clearly about next steps.
4. Visual imagery -- Visualize a calming place or scene.
5. Self-talk -- Use a pre-determined phrase and repeat it in your head. Choose something that helps to make you feel more calm.
6. Progressive muscle tension / relaxation -- Slowly tense and release muscle groups. Contract for 5 seconds then relax and really focus on how it feels to make those muscles feel loose and rested.
7. Take a break. Walk away and go to a pre-determined "safe spot" to cool down (and hopefully use some of these techniques!)

Talk to him about how not all of these tools will work for him, but he'll need to try them to know what works and what doesn't. Praise him for using these strategies. You may even throw in rewards for managing his anger when you see it happening. I hope this is helpful to you and wish you the best of luck!
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thank-you Jennifer.


These are some wonderful suggestions and recommendations.


You are very observant to call me out on the subject. My sons problem probably does stem from my own display of anger resolution. I have been dealing with anger myself since I was young, and I never did fully recognize it was a problem. It HAS caused me some trouble in the past. Which is why I would like my son to learn at an early age to control his temper, or learn to deal with his anger properly.


Once I learn how to recognize that I am becoming angry I may be able to model the appropriate behavior to deal with the emotion more effectively. The problem seems to be that it hits me so suddenly I do not realize I am acting out inappropriatly before it is too late, and the damage is done.


I will work on how to identify earlier when I am becomming angry. I will use your suggestions and learn how to display better judgement myself.


Maybe you might have one last follow-up comment before I accept your answer, but I do plan on accepting the answer you gave as useful.


Thank-you again.

An activity for you both may be to spend some time looking at what your anger "triggers" tend to be... With children, I often do this by talking about "things that bug you." You can come up with a list and even draw pictures if that's helpful. Later, you do the same in a journal so that you can spend some time truly focusing on yourself with this issue. The purpose of this activity is to identify what the situations / people / events are that tend to aggravate you so that you know to prepare yourself before heading into them or to recognize them when they're happening. Once you're able to do this, you can train yourself to immediately begin using those "cool down" techniques that work for you even before you hit the peak of feeling angry (when it's often too late).

Next, spend some time thinking about your physical response to anger. Do your muscles get tight? Jaw clenched? Some people sweat and others find they begin getting a stomach or headache. These are just more cues to be aware of so that you're able to recognize when they are coming on. Again, this will become your cue to begin using those techniques. Sometimes you'll feel them coming on even without an identifiable trigger. Do the techniques anyway.

In addition to learning how to respond to your angry feelings, learn to schedule breaks for yourself. Are you both taking time for yourselves to ensure you're feeling rested and relaxed when it's time to face the day? How is your relationship? If your bond is damaged at all, you can bet he won't be coming to you for help when he has a problem. Make those things a priority so that you're both in a place where you can develop healthy coping skills and be better prepared to face the difficult situations that cause you stress and/or make you feel anger.

Best of luck to you both!
Jennifer and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thank-you so much for your response. I am very excited to try some of these techniques. I plan on getting started right away using some of your thoughtful suggestions. Our relationship is good and I cherish the opportunity to make it better, which I believe working on this issue together will accomplish.


So, thank-you once more and I do appreciate your helpful hints.