My seven-year-old has been experiencing some very heavy, angry feelings lately. I have been trying to help her deal with these emotions without harming others, but I realized that some of her actions—the stomping, the loud growling—are the exact same things that I do when I am very angry. I have tried to explain to her that I bottle up “my mad” or “my big feelings” and when they build up like a volcano, I kind of explode. That’s not enough, though; I have learned that I, too, need to work on dealing with my mad.
So here are a few ways we’ve started to handle our anger. I hope you can use them for your littles, too.
Cry or Scream Into a Pillow: This is a very safe, cathartic method that you can do anytime you are safe at home or at a location that you can feel safe at, like a friend’s home. Grab a comfortable pillow in private—maybe in a bedroom—and just scream or cry until you feel better. A stuffed animal will work, too.
Hug: Sometimes a giant bear hug is all you need to feel better!
Stomp: Stomping around can help you release anger as well as the adrenaline that comes with it sometimes. Running also helps if you have the room. If you can’t safely stomp or run but you need a physical outlet, we can punch pillows (or a punching bag if one is available) or squeeze playdough.
Get Calm Though Meditation: My daughter likes to draw a rake through her mini Zen sandbox garden while I read her guided meditations about stars and worry trees. They help her feel more calm and relaxed. Older children may want to listen to a guided meditation and sit or lie down in repose, learning to mindfully meditate with parents. Yoga can also be helpful.
Snuggle with a Story: You can read a story about handling anger, like Anh’s Anger, or you can just read a favorite comforting story.
The Mad You Feel: This episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood teaches about expressing anger in different ways, such as through swim or playing the piano. You can use it to build on, adding the things you like to do personally when frustrated. I showed my daughter how I like to write when I’m angry, as well as how I like to discuss things that make me mad or sad with her daddy.