What Does "Anger Management" Mean for Kids?

Ask Me Anything.

Hey everyone, earlier this year in May, I hosted a "Health AMA" (ask me anything) on childhood stress, anxiety, and temper tantrums. There were a ton of great questions, so this summer I'll be pulling a few of my favorite answers and expanding on them.

"From your perspective, what exactly constitutes anger management in children?"

Anger management means helping kids find the tools needed to manage their anxiety, frustration, and temper. I typically utilize CBT to help kids figure out how their thoughts impact their feelings, how their feelings lead to different behaviors, and how they can change that cycle.

Thoughts have power.

Frequently, children aren't aware that they have "hot thoughts" that make them more angry, or that they can calm down with "cool thoughts."

For example...

Let's say they walk into the cafeteria and a table full of kids start laughing. They might have a hot thought pop into their head, like, "I can't believe those kids are laughing at me!" That thought would lead to them feeling more angry, and they might storm up to the table and start yelling.

Or, option two:

But what if, instead of assuming those kids were laughing, they told themselves, "Maybe they're laughing at me, maybe they're laughing at something else." That would make them feel more calm, maybe even curious. And they could then walk up to the table and ask what's funny, or go on with their day.

We get to decide how we react!

Kids often don't realize they have so much power over their reactions (ha actually, a lot of grown ups don't realize this, either!), which is why anger management can be so helpful - and why I love specializing in childhood anger/anxiety management.

Curious to hear more? Do you have a kid or teen who jumps to the worst case scenario? Or you're reading this and thinking "...hm, my kid does get super angry." Kelsey Torgerson specializes in anxiety and anger management for kids, stress for teens, and perfectionism in college students. You can reach her at kelsey@compassionatecounselingstl.com

She works in Clayton, MO and serves families throughout St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Ladue, Town and Country, Webster Groves, Creve Couer, Kirkwood, Richmond Heights, and Brentwood.