Understanding Our Anger

— Written By Cathy Graham and last updated by Penny McCartney

By: Cathy L. Graham

County Extension Director

N.C. Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center

 Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry.

                                                                                              Lyman Abbott

Frustration and anger can be a big problem for parents. But parents are only human! First, we need to understand where our anger comes from. Here are some ideas:

  • Lack of training for a 24-hour-a-day job. Parents are thrust into this job with no training, no mentor, no “manual.”
  • Children have free will. You cannot make children eat, sleep, listen, move, say please, or go potty!
  • Our expectations often differ from reality.
  • Life makes us angry and we take it out on our children.
  • Anger masks other emotions.

The following is a four-step process for handling anger:

  1. Recognize the anger. Stop, breathe, count! Recognize the physical feelings of  tensing up, et cetera. Say “STOP! I am getting angry.”
  2. Put space between you and your child. “Stop! I’m angry. I’m going to my room; I’ll be out in ten minutes.”  (Nothing is ever solved in a fit of anger. You need to  get control of yourself first.) Separate, calm down, and then come back and teach! Don’t escalate the anger by thinking negative thoughts; use the time to move your  mind off the problem – count, do deep breathing, et cetera.
  3. Adjust expectations. What’s normal and realistic? I may not be happy, but if it is reasonable behavior for this age and this situation, you can understand what’s going on rather than losing sight of reality.
  4. Use skill. Decide what you are going to do. What steps are you going to take? Which of my skills am I going to use to solve this problem? Once you have calmed down and made a plan, then you can emerge with a different perspective and be much more positive and productive and EFFECTIVE!

Source:  Elizabeth Pantley. Kid Cooperation:  How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading, and Let Kids Cooperate


–       Make Valentines and deliver to elderly family members.

–       Plan and plant a garden together.

–       Volunteer together for a community organization.

–       Visit the library for story time.

For more information, please contact Cathy L. Graham, County Extension Director with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at Cathy_Graham@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at https://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.