Social-Emotional Development How can we support children with the very big emotion Anger?

As we know from research, it is essential for children to feel safe and emotionally secure for them to learn effectively. Children's mental health and well-being have always been an essential part of early years development and have continued to be increasingly important.

Anger, like all emotions, is a valid and vital part of being human. The real question for us as educators is how do we help an angry child? It is imperative to listen and try and understand the point of view of the angry child. Stay calm and don't collapse and retaliate in the face of anger. You need to stop being angry; you have 5 seconds to stop yelling are go to responses adults have to angry children.

Anger gets a bad rap. We don't like it, and the emotion is powerful and can be scary for all involved. We are often frightened that angry will escalate to violence. We don't like the feeling of being out of control. 
We might do or say something that we will regret in the future. But anger s an essential emotion for us all., it is a good, normal and healthy part of life. It tells us when things are not fair, or our boundaries are violated, or something is wrong. Anger does not have to be destructive, but the behaviour that comes when it's not healthily expressed is such as abuse, shouting, and violence.

You matter too

For you to support children in your care, you need to become aware of your own feelings. It's helpful for you to think about your own feelings.

* When did you last feel angry
* Did you express your anger? How?
* Was it easy or difficult for you?
* How do you feel when people are angry around you?
* How did you respond?
How do you feel now thinking back about the incident? What do you need to do to support yourself?

Angry Words to Remember
* I hate you!
* Shout
* Scream
* Yell

Support Children with discussions about how their bodies feel when they are angry.
What Happens to your face?
What happens to your face?
What happens to your voice?
What happens to your breathing?
What happens to your heart?
What happens to your tummy?
What happens to your hands?
What happens to your legs and feet?

Talk to children about their feelings support their learning to identify their feelings. Feeling that can be identified can be managed and supported. 

Develop a set of resources in your classroom to support you and the children, mirrors, books about feelings, identify people's feelings in storybooks and most importantly, talk about feelings every day. One last comment remember to share that you too have feelings, and sometimes you are frustrated and even angry. When people we love and respect have angry feelings, it makes the feeling more manageable and not so scary.


Julie Belair-Bak MPEd early learning


Resources cited: Learn Well Helpful Handbook

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