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Regulating through Anger

Matt Canale, LPC and Certified Synergetic Play Therapist, specializes in helping children regulate through and understand their anger. I've ask him to highlight some strategies for parents to help their kiddos who are struggling with anger to connect, redirect and be authentic with their responses. This creates a more regulated and peaceful environment before, during and after the "storm." Connect. 
  • "I hear you screaming, I can see your fist are balled up, your face looks angry"
  • Name their emotion: "I can see/hear/feel you are angry or frustrated or mad"
  • Get curious about what is making them angry/frustrated
  • “I’m wondering if you’re mad because I didn’t get you that toy at the store?” Or, “Are you frustrated that I made you run errands with me?”
  • Connect again: “I can see you're angry that we have to leave the pool early; I know it so frustrating having to leave early.”
  • Saying no without saying no:
    • Kiddo: “No, I want to stay longer!” Parent: “ I know you want to stay longer, and we have to go, we can come back later or tomorrow or next weekend.”
Redirect & Set Boundaries.
  • "I know you’re angry and it not ok to hit me, my body doesn’t feel safe."
  • "I know you’re angry and it’s not ok to break your toys, or hurt your sibling."
  • "I know you’re angry and it not ok to throw a tantrum in the store."
  • Offer them other strategies in moment: stomp feet, grunt shake it out, calming breathing… if at home screaming into pillow, throwing pillow at the wall, stomping feet, loud music, taking space, pushing against a wall, music, cuddling with stuffed animals
  • Help them regulate, maybe they just need connection a hug, or empathy relating with their frustration
Be Authentic & Model Regulation.
  • Name you are angry or frustrated (or however you feel) and then name how you regulate out loud for your child
  • “Ugh, work was so frustrating to I need to go listen to music in my room for a little while”
  • “I’m so frustrated” grunt , take a big breath, stomp your foot, shake it out, or model for them how you want them to regulate their anger
  • Get your kiddo moving: sports, climbing, swimming, yoga, jiu jitsu, martial arts, jumping on trampoline, or just playing outside… your kids need to be moving more!
If you find yourself in a place where you are feeling overwhelmed or need extra support, please reach out to us at info@playtherapyconnection or fill out an online form here.