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"Anger with an Angle": Is Your Child Using Anger to Control You?

by James Lehman, MSW
Anger with an Angle: Is Your Child Using Anger to Control You?

Have your child’s angry outbursts worn you down so much that you’ve simply learned to give in? You should know that this is not a phase or a behavior that will “just go away on its own.” Read on to discover 5 things you can do to stop your child from using “Anger with an Angle” today.

Anger is a fact of life. Everyone gets angry, including kids—they get frustrated and disappointed just like adults do. The goal for children as they mature is to learn ways to manage their anger or, as I like to say, “Solve the problem of anger.” That’s because anger is a problem—it’s not just a feeling. And like many other problems, kids solve it in different ways. Some learn to solve the problem of anger by developing skills like communication and compromise, while other kids deal with it by becoming more defiant and engaging in power struggles.

Related: Is your child using tantrums, outbursts and/or anger to manipulate you?

You will soon see your child’s behavior escalate until you give in. That's when anger and acting out do become premeditated.

As children grow up, most learn to manage their anger. Each time they experience new situations, they begin to draw on the skills they learned previously. Most kids learn that temper tantrums don’t work—that yelling will not help their situation and that hurting someone or breaking something will cause them more trouble in the long run. But other kids go a whole different direction and practice a thing I call “Anger with an Angle.” They learn at a very early age that if they get angry and act out—or threaten to do so—the people around them will give in. In effect, they've learned how to blackmail their parents to give them what they want.

If you were an outsider observing a child who uses “Anger with an Angle” you’d see him look as if he's losing control. But what's really going on is that this child is getting more and more control over his parents. He looks like he's losing control, when in fact, he’s gaining control. And that's the dangerous thing. The fact is, a child’s behavior won't change until he's not able to get power from it anymore. And certainly for a kid, control is power. As long as he gets power from that behavior, he's going to continue to act out.

Related: How kids "lose control" to gain control.

How “Anger with an Angle” Develops
As an infant, a child’s behavior is certainly not premeditated. But as kids develop, if they see that they get their way by throwing a tantrum or threatening to get angry, they will keep doing it until they’ve trained their parents to give them what they want. And many times, parents don’t recognize what’s happening. It’s a natural progression that leaves families frustrated and overwhelmed by the time their child hits elementary school.

If you’re in this situation with your child, you will soon see his behavior escalate until you give in. That’s when anger and acting out do become premeditated.

When your child is using “Anger with an Angle,” he’ll look like he’s going to take you right to the brink. He’ll act like he’s going to throw a temper tantrum in the store. And then you have a choice: deal with that temper tantrum or buy him a candy bar. Most parents buy the candy bar, which increases the probability this behavior will occur again. I understand why parents give in. They reason, “Well, it's only a candy bar.” And I agree: I’ve got nothing against buying things for kids. But the bottom line is, how does your child go about getting that candy bar or comic book? Does he earn it with good behavior or buy it with his own allowance money? Or does he intimidate and bully you into giving in to him? If he’s doing the latter, you will probably see him act out in restaurants and other public places as well when he doesn't get his way. At home, he will threaten to have a tantrum or lose his temper to get more power over you. This is “Anger with an Angle.” Make no mistake, kids use it to solve their social problems and dictate to their parents.

Related: How to stay calm no matter how many times your child pushes your buttons.

By the way, you’ll often see a child who uses Anger with an Angle go to school and do the same thing. That’s because this has become his primary way of dealing with problems. You’ll see him play brinkmanship; he’ll continually take all the adults in his life to the edge; it becomes his main coping skill. And when that doesn't work, he’ll just act out. In this way, he keeps the threat of blackmail alive.

In my experience working with families, this problem just keeps getting bigger and more explosive as kids grow up. And by the way, some kids use “Anger with an Angle” by shutting down. For example, your teenage daughter may stop talking to you until you give in to her demands. If you give her what she wants, this ultimately gives her more control. Either way, if you let your child's behavior control the situation instead of following your own parenting values, then you're going to have a serious problem both now and as your child gets older.

How to Stop Giving in to “Anger with an Angle”
If your child has been using “Anger with an Angle” in your family, I think you and your spouse have to come up with a clearly defined plan of how you're going to deal with this behavior. That plan has to include teaching your child other ways to solve the problem of anger besides intimidating you or misbehaving. The plan should also include how you will teach him other ways to solve the problem of not getting his way instead of manipulating you and taking it out on you and other family members.

I think that people have to deal with acting-out behavior in an organized way. You need to take away the power associated with the threat of your child acting out. Know that whether he acts out in the supermarket, your living room or a restaurant, you can learn a way to deal with that. Here are some of the things I recommend you do when your child is employing “Anger with an Angle” in your family.

Related: How to give consequences and hold your child accountable.

1. When Your Child Threatens to Act Out, Ask Yourself This Question
As a parent, learn to ask yourself, “What's the worst that can happen if my child acts out?” If you determine that you can live with whatever happens, then you can move on to the next step. So ask yourself, “What's the worst that's going to happen if my child acts out in the supermarket?” Insulate yourself from real risk. If the worst that could happen is your child will run onto the highway, that's too much to risk for that situation. But if the worst that can happen is that he'll lie on the floor and kick his feet, let him go at it. I always recommend that parents bring a magazine or a book with them when they take their child in public. Have a seat and let your child scream away. It may be embarrassing for those few minutes it’s happening, but your indifference will eventually teach your child that his acting-out behavior does not control you any longer.

2. Decide What You’ll Do Ahead of Time: If your child frequently acts out in public or at home, plan what you’ll do before the anger and intimidation start. Will you leave the room, or tell him that he’ll have consequences for his behavior? Decide what you’ll do ahead of time. Try your best to speak clearly and calmly when your child is having a tantrum. Do not get into a power struggle with your child over whatever it is he’s trying to use anger to accomplish.

Related: How to plan ahead and handle your child's angry outbursts.

3. The Aftermath: Talk to Your Child about What Happened: After the incident, briefly discuss what happened with your child so he can learn skills that will help him deal with the situation differently next time. If you don't do this, know that his behavior is not going to become extinct on its own. In most cases, it builds on itself over time. Remember, every time your child acts out over something he wants, a couple of things are happening.

  • He's not learning to deal with his own urges.
  • He's not learning how to manage immediate gratification.
  • He's not learning how to get something appropriately if he wants it.
  • Acting out becomes his only problem-solving skill—his only way of getting things.

So always ask yourself, “What is my child learning, and what do I need to teach him to do differently?”

4. The Game-changer: After the incident is over, you have to sit down with your child and say, “You got really angry there and I understand why. You wanted a candy bar and I wouldn’t get it for you. But that behavior only got you into trouble. Next time we're in the store and you want something and I tell you ‘no,’ what can you do differently besides throwing a temper tantrum or yelling at me that won’t get you into trouble?”

Your child doesn’t need to learn to understand his feelings; he needs to learn that when he gets angry, he makes choices. From now on, he has to learn how to make more choices that are positive. He also needs to learn ways of behaving that don’t get him into trouble.

5. Should You Give Consequences for Losing Control? The first thing you have to determine is whether your child is actually losing control or if he’s simply giving you cues and signs as a warning to give in to him. If the latter is the case, consequences are very much indicated. Many people will tell you not to give your child a consequence for acting out of control or throwing a tantrum. They reason that if the child loses control he shouldn’t be held responsible for his actions since he’s not actually making choices.

In my opinion, if your child loses control once or twice, you may want to hold off on consequences. But if losing control becomes a pattern--if this is how he deals with things on a regular basis—I think there should definitely be a consequence. His behavior both inconveniences others and might even put your child or others in danger. Let's say you’re supposed to be getting home to your other kids, but your child is acting out at the mall, so you have to call a neighbor to run to your house. Your child’s behavior has now put everyone else at risk. If your child acts out in the car, he puts you and everyone else there in danger. I think there should absolutely be consequences for that behavior. Don’t pussyfoot around and let your child off the hook with “Oh, he lost control.” That's exactly how he’s working you. His angle is, “I lost control—I couldn’t help it.” Many parents get suckered in by that excuse. But I would tell you that if this acting out happens more than once in a while, your child should be held accountable and there should be consequences.

Related: How to communicate with your child so he'll listen to you.

6. What is Your Parenting Style? Let’s go back to the supermarket example. You see your child start to deteriorate—what do you do? When you use the Coaching style of parenting, you’d say something like, “Remember, we talked about this and you told me that the next time you were upset at the store, you would go over and read magazines until you calmed down.” Your child may not do it, but keep coaching him. Eventually, he's going to respond appropriately. Believe me, behaviors for which people are held accountable and receive consequences tend to diminish over time. Conversely, behaviors that are rewarded tend to increase. It's just that simple: if you reward the acting out or the threat of the tantrum, it's never going to go away.

A child who's blackmailing you with temper tantrums over a candy bar in the supermarket today is the same kid who’s going to stay out all night when he doesn’t get his way. And sadly, you won't be able to stop him. The next time he says, “Well, if you let me stay out until midnight, I won't have to stay out all night,” you’ll give in because you’re scared of what might happen if you don’t compromise. But again, I think you have to decide: “What's the worst that could happen if I don’t let my child manipulate me?” Will your child’s behavior escalate when you start to deal with it? Yes, it will. But I think the more guidance and support you have, the better you'll be able to manage.

Believe me, if your child isn’t taught these all-important problem-solving skills when he’s young, he’s at a higher risk of spending his adult life going from medication to medication, or maybe getting into some kind of social/criminal trouble. If he’s lucky, he might come to grips with his self-defeating strategies and his lack of appropriate problem-solving skills through some sort of educational or therapeutic process. This usually occurs after many failures and disappointments. As a parent, I want you to know that you have the power to help him face his problems now.

 


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James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James' foremost goal was to help kids and to "empower parents."

READER'S COMMENTS

With three little ones going to the store is a nightmare, someone is always wanting something, tring to start trouble with the other one, the baby is crying....if we didn't need to eat....but I keep taking them because I know that they need to learn how to handle those situations. that you will not always get what you want when you want it and that they will live through it. Before we ever get out of the car I ask the girls what I expect from them and what the consequences will be. They know that asking for something more than once will result in a consequence. Then we talk later about what they did to help in the store or what stunk and they need to work on next time. This has helped alot, they are not perfect all the time in the store but we will keep practicing.

Comment By : brandy

great article, my daughter will hit when she get's mad and upset or yell ... I will try and apply what I read every day from this day forward

Comment By : Karen, Dallas, TX

I stopped taking my children to the store years ago. It was too much for me. They are 17, 12, and 8. Recently they have been allowed to shop with me. There have been issues when checking out. I hated this from the time they were born. The checkout lanes have always been too small and too easy to grab candy. I explain now before I go into the store that I will purchase nothing in the checkout lane. They still try - mostly the 12 and 8 year olds. I never thought to ask myself what's the worst that could happen? Instead I usually get an upset stomach from the harassment. Now I'm going to remain calm and ask my child to ask the other people in line if I should buy them something for the way they are behaving. Thanks.

Comment By : Helene

Great article! I would agree that staying strong while dealing with the child and keeping a conversation open about it is key. Like everything, consistency is vital. Our kids are teens now, 15, 13, and 11. They still ask but are able to deal with "no" much easier than when they were all toddlers. Don't give up this is important to their growth.

Comment By : momto3

I am a grandparetn raising 3 girls, 10,9 and 4. The 4 year old frequently has issues with trying to get what she wants or if things are not exactly the way she thinks that they should be. We have decided that when she starts yelling and screaming that she will go outside and just let her scream! I have only had it happen once in the store before Christmas because she had it in her head that she didn't get a present from her sister, she is very strong headed. I thank you for the insight into this issue and will try to stop getting myself "involved" in the behavior. We have only had them for 1 year, so everything that they learned from their parents is different than what we expect and it has been a huge learning curve for them.

Comment By : Grandma

My 16 year daughter has been using Anger with an Angle for years. I have not given in, have left the room or the house, butI now my 14 yr. old son has been diagnosed with depression. Her tantrums are really affecting him and then they start fighting. I also have a 9 year old daughter who is starting to pattern her sister. Help, i don't know what to do.

Comment By : desperate mom

i have 3 sons ages 23,22,18 liveing at home, they act like kids at times, and have tantrums and threaten.but they want adult rights.how can i give them the adult rights and still deal with the problems they give me?

Comment By : wildfire

i think this is very positive for younger children and teens, but can it help me with older children?

Comment By : wildfire

You described my situation to a T. I have run ins with my nearly 15 year old son every single day. He flips completely out. It is very tiring. I am home schooling him, because he does this at school too. Please do more on this subject.

Comment By : Alice

i have an 18 year old son and no matter how much i thought i was doing this when he was younger, after my divorce i found out i wasnt strong enough. He will push me to the limits after saying no. I am being consistant and taking charge. If he wants adult rights, he acts like an adult. If he wants to go out, he has to do certain things around the house, (chores) if they arent done he doesnt go. He has left a few times and come home to no tv in his room ect. Now if he asks and i say no, he says he is going anyways he always has second thoughts and comes back to complete what it is he should have done. Because he knows, i mean business. It is really difficult but the DR is right. They will use it (anger) and when you think about it, what is the worst that can happen? weigh it out and be strong. You are doing what is best for them in the long run.

Comment By : DMom

We have a 10 year old and we are faced with indifference when it comes to our efforts to discipline him. We take away, television, video games, deserts you name it he could care less. Grounding doesn't work. Sending him to his room is no biggy. We even took everything out of his room and left him with a mattress. after a period of time when we put the furniture back in the room, he requested that he just have the mattress (which he used as a means of hiding dirty clothes). He is extremely intelligent and can put on great company manners when the occasion arises. I have run out of ideas. "How do you gain control when he gives the impression that nothing means anything to him.We have tried reasoning...doing cause and effect....rewards for good behavior...He still reverts to not flushing the toilet,not sitting down and doing school work....not picking up after himself. Saying he hates us...nobody likes him

Comment By : tatteredMom

This is great for younger children, but I have a 14 year old that acts out mostly at home if she doesn't get what she wants. She yells, slams doors (so much that at times we have removed her door), swears, etc. What do you do with that type of behavior? Consequences and punishments are either ignored or when she does do them it's of no effect. She could care less of things taken away from her (anything electronic) as she went without for almost 2 months and still had problems. Incentives to behave and act correctly have not worked either. When she finally does act correctly, I do acknowledge it then and there. But as soon as she earns and gets incentive, she is back to her ugly behavior. This is almost a full time job and I have 2 other jobs and 2 other children to handle too!!

Comment By : had it

I want to provide some encouraging words here for "had it" and anyone else who may feel the same way. Your children will never again be as influenceable. Keep investing in your children's emotional bank account and it will pay off later.

Comment By : 777MPH

* Dear tatteredMom: As you'll read in many articles on EP, punishing a child rarely results in a change of behavior. When faced with losing everything (or even just one special thing), many kids will say "I don't care." Think of it this way - why would they let you know that you have chosen something that means something to them? That would be like letting the enemy know your weak spot! So, first of all, if you know your child values a certain item, don't wait for him to admit that he would miss it; he is not likely to admit to that. Second, remember that taking things away from your child on a long term basis is not effective. When kids lose everything, they simply learn to live without anything - as your son has done. Instead, keep your consequences short term - within the same day - and keep them tied to a specific behavior. For example, if he needs to tidy his room each day, let him know that he will earn half an hour of computer time each evening once that chore is done. If he doesn't get it done today, he gets to try again the next day. Give him a chance to earn something he values each day. To help you develop appropriate and effective consequences, please read Why Don't Consequences Work for My Teen and End the Nightly Homework Struggle. You might also find EP's articles on power struggles to be helpful - type in "power struggles" in the global search box. Good luck, and let us know how it's going.

Comment By : Megan Devine, Parental Support Line Advisor

* Dear wildfire: That would depend on what you mean by "older children," and whether the older children live in your home or not. Certainly, no matter how old the child, there is no excuse for abuse. If you have a child between the ages of 18 and 25 living in your home, you might also find James’ series on older children helpful. http://www.empoweringparents.com/Rules-Boundaries-and-Older-Children.php http://www.empoweringparents.com/In-Response-to-Questions-about-Older-Children-Living-at-Home-by-James-Lehman.php http://www.empoweringparents.com/Rules-Boundaries-and-Older-Children-Late-To-Set-Up-Living-Agreement.php

Comment By : Megan Devine, Parental Support Line Advisor

Thank you for this article. This is a concept we have learned in the past, and use it, but it is always great to have the idea refreshed. It is such hard work to raise these kids. I feel like we take 1 step forward then 2 back, then 3 forward, etc. I appreciate the support and advice from this website. Keep up the good work.

Comment By : ahsweeney

* Dear ‘had it’: Any change in behavior does not happen overnight. Many parents are discouraged when disciplining a child once or twice is not enough. But better skills for better behaviors require repetition and patience. This is not easy work—for you or your daughter. The techniques in James Lehman’s article and the Total Transformation program do work, and they work for teens your daughter’s age and older. The techniques are not simply based on giving a consequence or more and more severe punishments to the child. Instead, you the parent are very involved in the change process. You will learn more effective ways to change your behavior in these situations by staying in emotional control, not giving in to her demands, by requiring her to discuss this behavior problem with you when she has calmed down, and giving her a consequence for her choice to use ‘Anger with an Angle’. (See Good Behavior is not “Magic”—It’s a Skill: The Three Skills Every Child Needs for Good Behavior) You will likely go through this process many times as she keeps testing something that used to work on you before. Please remember that the Support Line is here for you. It can be really helpful to have someone to talk to and understand what you’re going through. We would be delighted to hear from you again. Please keep in touch.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

* Dear ‘desperate mom’: It is true that the family can be viewed as a group that is interacting and responding to each other. That is what happens. One of the important teachings in James Lehman’s’ program, the Total Transformation, is how to create a culture of accountability in your home. In this atmosphere, each person learns that they are personally responsible for their own behaviors. Even though we are influenced and affected by others we come in contact with, we choose how we behave in response to these influences. For example, you have indicated how difficult your 16 year old daughter can be at times and that there are occasions when her brother fights with her. When they are fighting, both are responsible for choosing to fight instead of resolving their differences in more socially acceptable ways. Also, your 9 year old does not get to blame the influence of others, including her sibling, as reasons for her behavior choices. She remains responsible for herself. This is the only approach that will ultimately help kids direct their efforts toward changing themselves and toward learning how to solve their problems, using their own skills to cope with frustrations and disappointments. There’s a terrific article from James Lehman you might enjoy that talks about accountability and how to foster it in your home: "I'm a Victim, So the Rules Don't Apply to Me!" How to Stop "Victim Thinking" in Kids

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

I am training to be a NYS Advocate for families with ADHD and other diagnosis. I am so thrilled to have this article sent to me! It so very helpful in my training and in my day to day life as well. I have a 13 year old son that has been diagnosed with ADHD but I see signs of ODD and conduct disorder also. I have one ? ...how do I get my husband to realize what our son is doing? I am parenting one way and he is parenting another. My way ...ie your way ... works best of course. I need him to see and learn what I have and continue to. Thank you.

Comment By : sweetigerzz

I'm a single parent with 4 18f 16m 12m 9f, my 9 and 12 yo father doesn't want any contact with his children, then we had 2 deaths in the family,and now my 9 yo is abusive throwing items putting holes in wall, she wont get ready for school she swears,Ive tried to get her to come to docs so we can get counseling but she refuses, my 2 boys give it back to her my house is like a battle zone everyday, i love my daughter but hate her as a person, I'm ready for a holiday in the physc ward :( kaylee

Comment By : kaylee

We have two kids: 2 & 4. My standard response for any request at the store is, "You'd like the Dora stickers, remind me to write that on your list when we get home." Once we're home, if my child even remembers, we'll write it on her list which is posted in our kitchen. When birthdays or Christmas time comes around, then we go back to the list and she prioritizes the things which she really wants. Don't get me wrong, I also say NO or LATER as I am very aware that our children need to learn how to handle the fact that they "can't always get what they want." Now if only we could have such a clever strategy for other areas which my husband and I are currently finding a challenge! LOVE this website. So many good tips. Thanks for helping us load up our toolbox of tricks...

Comment By : Papaya

Excellent article. This sounds exactly like my relationship with my son. It gets very overwhelming sometimes because I'm often unsure how to deal with it. I understand what is going on and that his anger is usually a ploy to get out of or into whatever it is he's wanting or not wanting, but successfully dealing with it sometimes feels impossible. I appreciate this article because it has helped me to see that I'm not going crazy and imagining thigs (which seems to be the answer people I seek for advise give me), and that I'm not the only person out there who has a kid like this. I like the ideas given here and I plan to put them to the test. In those moments when he's behaving this way my biggest question is "how do I deal with this??!!" Unfortuneatly, they didn't offer that class in highschool. Thank you very much for posting this!

Comment By : Cher

We have two boys that are 19 months apart. It is true that if you give in they will do it all the time. When we go to the store now they know if you act out then you are going straight to the car with one of the parents. The behavor has changed for the better. But when one of them steps out of line, right to the car they go. Now is the time to learn.

Comment By : vanbue

This is good advice.Ignoring them is good. I used to swat my kids on the bottom when they were younger and tried throwing fits. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes not. Distracting them with something else helped too. And diffused the situation. But it didn't teach them why not to try and be in control.

Comment By : poopsie

I am in a quandry about behaviour like the one described above, in a co parenting situation where Max's dad does NOT back up any type of good parenting, and anything I try to do is then unwound when he goes to dad's. can you lead me to the articles about single parenting with a dad that doesn't agree with the rules of the mom? thanks, kelli

Comment By : Kelli

* Dear Kelli: There is an excellent article written by James Lehman that addresses your situation. The Do's and Don'ts of Divorce for Parents. Even when parents are committed to working as a team after a divorce, there are likely to be differences. If there is hurt or resentment between parents, co-parenting usually does not happen successfully. James Lehman that you only focus on what takes place in your own home and not what occurs in your ex-spouse’s home. This will prevent the kids from playing one parent against the other and it keeps them ‘out of the middle’ because you’re not asking them what happens when they visit their Dad. Kids are capable of learning different rules for different settings, just as they do for home and for school. If the kids try to argue that their Dad allows them to do something that they are not allowed to do at your home, don’t criticize the Dad, of course, but simply say, “You may be allowed to do that at your Dad’s house, but in this house, these are the rules.” Hold the kids responsible for their behavior choices when they’re in your home.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

My son is 8 years old. His anger outburst is so bad that I don't know what to do. I have tried to hug the anger out of him. Held on to him while he is trying to flee. Ignore the sceams of I hate you... I don't have a family. He will not hear me out after the outburst or during. Right now he is so angry he sleeping on the floor in his room. Peace in our house is not something we had for a while. I feel so helpless.

Comment By : Erolyn

Good

Comment By : obim

I know all of these strategies, yet I "forget" them. So glad to see this article link at the bottom of my "Personal Parenting Plan" from EP. When I am tired of being "on" all the time, I get lazy. My 8-year old son has ADD, and I see signs of ODD too. Doctor won't entertain ODD just yet while we're working on the ADD, but we have had too many days, months, years of me being afraid to give him a firm "no" for fear of having to get up the energy to deal with the freak out. I have to keep on my game and reading this article helped me get back on track for now. I am psyched to have found a good site that doesn't just have a bunch of laypersons talking about what they think. The only question I am still left with is: What kind of consequences and how do I execute them? My son doesn't do what I ask him to do often, especially if it is something like "Go to your room for a break." Or "You have to turn the tv off now because you are yelling at me and that's not acceptable." I just get "NO, MOM!!" And an argument ensues. The article says after many out of control outbursts or tantrums there should be a consequence, but how to I execute a consequence in my house and what are the best consequences for talking back, name calling, and slamming doors? Thankfully,my son does not put holes in the wall, or break things on purpose, BUT I could see it as a possibility for sure.

Comment By : imperativezenmom

* To “imperativezenmom”: Thank you for asking such a great question. Trying to figure out the most effective consequence can be a daunting task for any parent. We talk with many parents on the Parental Support Line who are unsure of the best way to discipline their child. From our perspective, task-oriented consequences can be an effective way of holding your son accountable for the choices he makes. From what you have written, it sounds like talking back and verbal disrespect are two behaviors you are dealing with. How we would suggest you address those behaviors is this: in the moment, when the behavior is occurring, we would suggest setting the limit and walking away. You can say something to him like “It’s not OK to talk to me like that. I don’t like it.” and then walk away from him. You can go into another room or simply stop giving his behavior any more attention. After things have calmed down, we would suggest having a brief problem-solving conversation with him and then implementing a task-oriented consequence such as “When you show me you can go for 1 hour without talking to me disrespectfully or calling me names, then you can have your video game privileges.” There is no one privilege that’s going to work better than another; it depends upon what is going to best motivate your child. A task-oriented consequence is different from just a loss of a privilege because it gives your son the opportunity to earn back a privilege by practicing the appropriate behavior you would like him to have. We hope this has been useful for your situation. Here are a couple articles you may find helpful as well: The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: "I Can't Solve Problems" & Kids Who Ignore Consequences: 10 Ways to Make Them Stick. We wish you and your family the best. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

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