University of Illinois Extension

Keep Anger from Taking Over

Rachel Schwarzendruber, Family Life Educator

Children aren't always going to do what we want them to do, and we may not always be pleased. Before we know it, we recognize the emotion and anger.

All of us get angry. The emotion is normal and healthy. How we handle this strong emotion determines whether it is a positive or negative outcome.We may have good reason to get angry. Anger tells us something is wrong and something needs to be done. It gives energy and motivation to fix the problem. But, anger can also become habitual and uncontrollable, resulting in hurt relationships as well as emotional and physical health problems.

The first thoughts and feelings accompanying our anger warn that we must stop and calm down. Typical warning signs are tense muscles, clenched fists, and tension headaches. Other warnings might be thoughts of intention like: "They are doing that on purpose." "She wants to annoy me." "He knows better." What are your warning signs?

Calm Down

When you first recognize the warning signs, take a deep breath - you might have to take several deep breaths to relax. Calming down gives you time to put your thoughts together before the situation escalates to the point where you say or do things you later regret.


Use the energy for something positive. Clean the car or house. Exercise. Go for walk, dance to music, or lift weights.

State the Complaint

Explain how you are feeling. Tell your grandchild clearly what he did wrong and what you want him to do. Be polite and respectful. Explain why you feel that way. "I was really afraid when..." Stay in the present. Avoid trying to predict the future or bringing up things that happened long ago that made you angry.

Speak Carefully

Avoid put-downs and sarcasm. Try not to blame or shame, or it will escalate into an argument.

Stop Controlling

Other people, even children, will not always do things the way we would like or how we think they should. At times, we may even have to lower our standards. We can learn to love a "lumpy bed." Concentrate on controlling yourself instead of others.

Forgive Others, Forgive Yourself.

Do it for yourself. Drop your resentments. It takes time but it will be much easier to manage your anger.