When your kid gets angry, it’s all too easy to go from mad to worse. But there are ways to help. First, work on yourself: Next time you start to feel angry, say “I’m getting mad, so I’m going to take a break” and walk away instead of flying off the handle. That way, your kid gets to witness another way of handling those feelings. And remember, stress feeds anger. So make sure everyone’s getting enough sleep, stick to a routine, prioritize special time, allow your kids plenty of outdoor play time, and don’t overpack your kids’ schedules–or your own. Relaxed parents are more likely to have relaxed kids. And in a peaceful moment, talk to your kid about how to learn to calm down instead of blow up next time they start to feel mad. Ask them to brainstorm some ways that help them chill. You can also share some techniques of your own. Need more help? Let them know that some kids find these tips helpful:

  1. Put on music

  2. Color (consider getting a coloring book made for relaxation)

  3. Draw or write down what’s making them mad (especially when combined with the next one)

  4. Rip up paper (note: be ready to help them clean it up afterward)

  5. Take deep breaths — they can try blowing into their hand five times or breathing out like a dragon. (Tip: Help your child self-soothe with the Q-Time Buddy, a stuffed monkey designed to help kids learn to slow down their breathing and manage their emotions.)

  6. Slowly count to 10

  7. Walk away and take a break for a few minutes

  8. Go to their special spot (a corner of their room, say, set up to be as peaceful as possible — think battery-powered candles, a blanket, pillows or a bean-bag chair, maybe next to their bookshelf)

  9. Rock in a rocking chair or swing on a swing

  10. Take a bath

  11. Breathe in the scent of a lavender-filled pillow

  12. Talk to themselves (for example, “I can handle this,” “Stay calm” or “Take deep breaths”)

  13. Voice the anger (for example, “I’m so mad at you!” — whether or not that’s justified, listen rather than disciplining them; recognizing and expressing emotions is healthy)

  14. Picture your favorite peaceful place (bonus: put up a photo or drawing of it in their room)

  15. Give themselves a hug (wrap their arms around themselves and squeeze)

  16. Shake a calming jar

  17. Snuggle a special stuffed animal or lovey

  18. Run around the backyard or up and down stairs five times

  19. Jump rope or play basketball

  20. Cuddle with or play with a pet

You may need to do a little trial and error — things that help one kid may just amp up another. You can also try to help your kid learn to recognize when they’re starting to get worked up so they can walk away or ask for help before they lose it. Figuring out those patterns can also be helpful for you — if you know transitioning to bedtime is a trigger, you can avoid making demands of your child until the next day. Once your kid settles on some helpful ways to handle their anger, write their ideas down and post them on the fridge or in their room. You can even make a book together using stick figures to help your kid remember their techniques — and give them something to refer to next time they get mad.

Need more help? Check out our post on What to Do Next Time Your Kid Loses It.