What Your Child’s Anger Means, And What To Do About It

Do you have an angry child?

One who is sometimes so defiant, you don’t even like him or her at these moments?

The toddler who continuously knocks down your household plants even though you’ve told him over and over to stop.

The pre-teen who is so mouthy, she leaves you stunned in silence, unable to formulate a response.

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The teenager who comes to breakfast without ever cracking a smile.

Angry kids, aside from being difficult to be around, have a knack for making us feel that we must really be failing as parents.

No matter how much you hear or read that this behavior is just normal developmental stuff, you feel like you’re doing something wrong. Or that there’s something terribly wrong with your child.

Who’s To Blame, And What Do You Do?

So which is it? Do you not measure up as a parent? Is your kid more difficult than his peers? Are you raising a psychopath?

When there’s a problem, it’s natural to look for a cause. We think that if we can blame something or someone, we can have control over a situation that feels chaotic.

And when it feels like your kid’s behavior is out of control, this brings up fear. Fear that you’ve created a monster. Fear of not knowing what’s coming next. Fear that there’s something fundamentally wrong with you because you couldn’t get this parenting thing right.

But when you’re operating in fear mode like this, something else happens. You start parenting from a fearful perspective. You’re unsure of yourself, you feel out of control.

Maybe you swing from enforcing rules to placating your child in order to avoid further conflict or a scene. Or you shift from trying to reason with your child to bribing them to outright demanding. Or you think that by buying them things or being more their friend than their parent, they’ll soften up.

Either way, you’re parenting from a powerless place. And then your children become more angry and defiant—even self-entitled. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What children crave from you more than anything is a calm, collected leader who parents from a steady, grounded place. When you’re parenting like this, your child feels safe and secure. As a result, his emotions and responses are more grounded, too:

Be The Powerful Parent Your Child Needs

Who’s In Charge? Your Child And The Need For Control

By becoming a more empowered parent, you create a more empowered—and less angry—child.

See, children who feel chronically powerless will constantly look for opportunities to assert control.

Sad Child

If you think about it, a child is constantly controlled throughout the day. Someone else is deciding his routines, where he goes to daycare or school, what clothes hang in his closet, what foods are in the fridge, what time he goes to bed. And if the parents are no longer together, your child has no control over where he sleeps.

The more controlled a child feels, the more he will act up to feel a sense of control and autonomy.

While as a parent you do have a role in making decisions for your child, there is an empowered form of parenting that also allows your child to have a say.

I call this type of parent The Captain. As The Captain, you’re at the helm of the ship (your household). You parent from a calm, collected place. But this doesn’t mean you’re a tyrant or dictator who makes all the decisions. As The Captain, you’re so confident and secure in your parenting that you can allow your children to be part of the team.

When your kid feels like his voice and his views matter, anger and defiance go way down. He goes from being bossed around to feeling like a valued member of the team. And because of that, he feels that he MATTERS.

Suddenly, there’s no need for him to make his presence known in destructive ways. He gets to assert himself and his individuality in a respectful way—all because you gave him a choice and a voice.

Don’t you feel enraged when your voice doesn’t count? It’s universal. Suppress my voice or choice, and I get angry. Give me a vote, and I matter. I make a difference.

The End Of Power Struggles, And The Beginning Of Peace

Anger and defiance are signs that both you and your child are feeling disempowered.

As a parenting educator, my job is to empower parents so that you can, in turn, empower your child.

I want to help you become The Captain in your household instead of draining precious time and energy in fruitless power struggles that wear both of you down and wreck the attachment you share.

Ultimately, the attachment between you and your child can only deepen when he or she feels safe to be parented by you.

In my video program Parenting Without Bargains, Battles or Bribes, you’ll learn how to embody The Captain so you create an empowering win-win scenario for your entire family.

I’ll teach you my tools and strategies to reduce anger and raise cooperation, including specific techniques for when and how to give your child a voice in decision making.

Anger can wear you down and make it even more difficult for you to manage your household. My program will help you stop blaming yourself—and your child—so you can start being the parent you want to be.

You’ll identify all the ways you’ve been accidentally causing your child to behave even worse—and get new tactics that will stop tantrums and meltdowns before they start.

Ultimately, my work is built on creating an unshakable bond between you and your child so that he naturally wants to please you:

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It only takes a shift in your parenting to shift your child’s response. Isn’t that an empowering thought?


Susan Stiffelman

P.S. The things that trigger you as a parent and cause you to go from calm to losing your cool have to do with your own childhood wounds. Your kid talks back to you, and you’re suddenly 5 or 13 years old. You don’t feel seen or heard. Or appreciated. Your needs are not honored. And you wind up parenting from this younger, more emotional self.

It never works.

Creating a new dynamic with your child starts with recognizing the unresolved “stuff” in you:

What’s Really Bothering You

Parent Without Yelling, Power Struggles and Guilt

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  • Less tantrums and tears, more snuggles and laughter

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