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Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper

Keeping your temper in check can be challenging. Use simple anger management tips — from taking a timeout to using "I" statements — to stay in control.

Do you fume when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure rocket when your child refuses to cooperate? Anger is a common and even healthy emotion. But it's important to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships.

Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.

1. Think before you speak

In the heat of the moment, it's easy to say something you'll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything. Also allow others involved in the situation to do the same.

2. Once you're calm, express your concerns

As soon as you're thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but nonconfrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.

3. Get some exercise

Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run. Or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.

4. Take a timeout

Timeouts aren't just for kids. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what's ahead without getting irritated or angry.

5. Identify possible solutions

Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child's messy room make you upset? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening. Or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Also, understand that some things are simply out of your control. Try to be realistic about what you can and cannot change. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything and might only make it worse.

6. Stick with 'I' statements

Criticizing or placing blame might only increase tension. Instead, use "I" statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, "I'm upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes" instead of "You never do any housework."

7. Don't hold a grudge

Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. Forgiving someone who angered you might help you both learn from the situation and strengthen your relationship.

8. Use humor to release tension

Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humor to help you face what's making you angry and, possibly, any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.

9. Practice relaxation skills

When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as "Take it easy." You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.

10. Know when to seek help

Learning to control anger can be a challenge at times. Seek help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.

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  • Kassinove H, et al. Happiness. In: The Practitioner's Guide to Anger Management: Customizable Interventions, Treatments, and Tools for Clients With Problem Anger. Kindle edition. New Harbinger Publications; 2019. Accessed March 11, 2022.
  • Understanding anger: How psychologists help with anger problems. American Psychological Association. Accessed March 11, 2022.
  • Controlling anger before it controls you. American Psychological Association. Accessed March 11, 2022.
  • Tips for survivors: Coping with anger after a disaster or other traumatic event. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Accessed March 11, 2022.
  • Caring for your mental health. National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed March 11, 2022.
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Anger Management Therapy: Types, Techniques, and Benefits

  • Types of Therapy

How It Works

  • Other Methods
  • Finding a Therapist

Anger management refers to a set of skills used to handle and express anger in healthy ways. Anger is a natural emotion, and when managed well, it can even be healthy and productive. But when anger escalates to the point that it causes harm to yourself and others, it's time to make some changes.

Read on to learn more about anger management counseling and why it's important.

Illustration by Michela Buttignol for Verywell Health

What Is Anger Management?

People use a number of conscious and unconscious processes to handle their anger. Common approaches include:

  • Suppressing

While anger may be a normal and healthy emotion, how we respond to it makes a big impact. Anger management can help you respond in healthy, constructive ways.

What Is Anger?

Anger is a natural emotion that is subjective and adaptive. It can vary in intensity, from subtle irritation to intense rage.

It has different components:

  • Experiential : Emotional experiences accompanied by physiological responses
  • Expressional : Behaviors used to deal with anger feelings

Types of Anger Management Therapy

Psychotherapists use three basic strategies in anger management treatment:

  • Relaxation : Learning to calm the body
  • Cognitive therapy : Learning healthy thinking patterns
  • Skill development : Learning new behaviors

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used treatment for anger management, and many studies have shown its effectiveness.

CBT for anger targets thought patterns and behaviors associated with problematic anger management. Once these are identified, they can be replaced over time with realistic, productive responses to feeling angry.

These responses are achieved through exercises, such as reframing the way you think about a problem and how you respond to it. CBT can identify anger cues and triggers and implement practices and techniques to stop anger from escalating.

Variations on CBT may be used, such as:

  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) : Combines cognitive therapy, meditation , and mindfulness
  • Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) : An action-oriented approach that addresses irrational beliefs and develops skills to manage emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in more productive, healthier ways

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) focuses on mindfulness as a way for people to increase awareness of their emotions. Recognizing strong emotions can improve people's judgments of anger-inducing situations and help them control their emotions and come up with appropriate responses.

Other Therapies

Although CBT remains the first line of treatment for anger management, other psychotherapies may help as well. These include:

  • Emotion-focused therapy : This therapy can help people process negative emotions in a safe, empathetic environment. During one-on-one sessions, your therapist may evoke anger and help you respond to it appropriately.
  • Family therapy : Attachment-based family therapy is similar to EFT but with a family member or romantic partner present during sessions. In a safe environment, you can express intense emotions and unmet needs. The therapist can then help your loved one respond with validation and empathy.
  • Psychodynamic therapy : The focus of this therapy is to find the roots of a person's anger through dialogue with a therapist. Reflecting on past experiences and emotions can help you improve your present situation.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy : The focus of this therapy is to help people accept that negative experiences and emotions occur and then help them psychologically adapt to these challenges.

Anger management therapy helps a person gain insight into what triggers their anger as well as identify their anger responses. Using certain exercises, the person develops skills that help them manage their anger in healthy and productive ways .

Anger treatment programs typically aim to modify:

  • Cognitive processes : Therapy can help you identify triggers that make you angrier and then change incorrect thought patterns.
  • Physiological arousal : Treatment can help you relax by paying more attention to your body's response to anger-inducing situations.
  • Behavior/social interaction : Learning to manage your anger can also include avoiding stressful situations and improving your communication skills.

Other Ways to Control Anger

There are ways to practice anger management skills outside of formal therapy sessions. In fact, if you are in professional treatment for anger management, you will be encouraged to practice skills outside of class.

Relaxation techniques can be practiced as needed and regularly as part of your daily routine. Tools might include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Relaxing imagery
  • Meditation and mindfulness exercises

Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring involves changing the way you think about situations. This might involve taking the overly dramatic or exaggerated thinking that tends to come with anger and trying to be more logical and realistic, even when the anger is justified.

Exercise is great for physical and mental health. It's also been shown to have a positive effect on anger reduction and stress control.

Realistic Problem-Solving

Instead of reacting with frustration, you can tackle your issue by:

  • Evaluating the problem
  • Identifying your options for a response
  • Considering the likely consequences of each potential solution

It's also important to recognize that problems will arise that do not have a perfect solution or may be out of your control. In situations like these, focus on what you can control in the situation, and what behaviors will leave you feeling the best about yourself over time.

If your sincere attempts to solve the problem are not successful at first, be easy on yourself, try to be patient, practice your anger management techniques, and avoid all-or-nothing thinking—focusing on extremes and absolutes like "always" or "never."

Thought Stopping

If you feel your angry thoughts building, counter them with commands to stop the pattern of angry thoughts before the anger escalates.

Communication and Clarification

When angry feelings arise, stop, think, and ask yourself where the anger is coming from. Sometimes anger can be a smoke screen for other feelings, like fear or anxiety . Talking about your feelings, with others or even out loud to yourself, can help.

Stop, slow down, and think when heated discussions arise. Listen carefully to the other person, and carefully consider what you are going to say before you respond.

Try employing the Conflict Resolution Model:

  • Identify the problem.
  • Identify the feelings associated with the conflict.
  • Identify the impact of the problem.
  • Decide whether to resolve the conflict.
  • Work towards resolution of the conflict, including if a compromise is needed.

It can be difficult, but trying to see the humor in situations—even frustrating ones—can help take the fire out of an angry response.

"Time Out"

"Time outs" aren't just for children; they can be a way for you to take a minute to calm down and de-escalate your anger.

A "time out" could include the following process:

  • Leave the situation.
  • Count to 10.
  • Repeat calming phrases.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Shift to a more pleasant thought.
  • Bring yourself back into focus.

It can also be helpful to schedule regular personal time for periods of the day you know will be stressful, such as claiming the first 15 minutes after you get home from work as uninterrupted "me time."

Avoiding Triggers

You can get help identifying your triggers in therapy—the goal then is to avoid these situations. For example, if you tend to get frustrated with something at night, try doing it at a different time of day. If your child's messy room angers you, close their door. If driving to work sets you off, look into taking the bus or train.

Abuse Is More Than an Anger Issue

Domestic violence and abuse involves a deliberate control over another person, not necessarily a loss of control or temper. Abuse requires specialized treatment, not standard anger management classes.

If you or a loved one are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence, contact the  National Domestic Violence Hotline  at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates. For more mental health resources, see our  National Helpline Database .

Poor anger management is associated with a number of negative effects on physical, mental, and social health, including cardiovascular diseases, low self-esteem, and interpersonal problems.

Proper anger management habits are part of taking care of overall health for everyone.

When Is Anger Management Therapy Effective?

Everyone can benefit from learning effective anger management strategies, but anger management treatment may be especially helpful for people in certain circumstances.

Working People

Any job can be stress -inducing, but some jobs can make anger management especially necessary. For example, nursing has been shown to involve many factors that can trigger anger responses.

Expressing anger (such as using offensive hand gestures) has been shown to increase safety risks while driving. Incorporating anger management techniques into driver training classes could help make roads safer.

People Who Are or at Risk of Being Incarcerated

Studies have shown anger management can be effective in reducing the risk of reoffending, particularly violent reoffending.

A 2015 meta-analysis explored the effects of CBT-based anger management interventions among adult men who were incarcerated. After treatment completion, the overall risk of reoffending showed a 42% reduction, while violent reoffending showed a 56% reduction.

People With Substance Use Disorder

Anger and aggression are associated with substance abuse . Difficulty managing anger and aggression can be a significant barrier to treatment for substance use.

While it's a common belief that anger "fuels" athletes, there is evidence to show that anger might be dysfunctional if not managed correctly, particularly in sports that require selective attention and fine-tuned motor skills.

Research suggests that CBT programs can help athletes understand and control this anger response.

Children and Adolescents

Children and adolescents who struggle with anger management can be at increased risk for difficulties in school and in social interactions. If it continues into later adolescence and adulthood, they are at risk for problems with employment and potential legal troubles.

Teaching anger management skills to children and adolescents reduces these risks and other negative outcomes associated with anger issues. Starting this training before they internalize unhealthy behaviors is especially beneficial.

CBT combined with mindfulness techniques, implemented by trained CBT practitioners, have been shown to be effective for anger management with children.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

When it comes to your mental health, consider seeing a healthcare provider when you feel like your symptoms interfere with your daily life or work. For anger specifically, make sure to seek help if you feel like your anger is out of control or if you're worried you might hurt someone or yourself.

When looking for a therapist, find someone with experience in anger management. Approaches to anger management can be different than other forms of therapy.

The American Psychological Association has an online search tool to help you find a psychologist in your area.

Anger management skills are learned. People who have difficulty managing their anger can learn productive ways to handle their emotions.

Professional treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, is effective at treating anger management issues. Practicing anger management skill-building exercises at home and putting them into practice helps solidify good anger management habits.

American Psychological Association. Control anger before it controls you .

Kim YR, Choi HG, Yeom HA. Relationships between exercise behavior and anger control of hospital nurses . Asian Nursing Research . 2019;13(1):86-91. doi:10.1016/j.anr.2019.01.009

American Psychological Association. How a psychologist can help you manage anger .

Manfredi P, Taglietti C. A psychodynamic contribution to the understanding of anger - The importance of diagnosis before treatment .  Res Psychother . 2022;25(2):587. Published 2022 Jun 30. doi:10.4081/ripppo.2022.587

Anjanappa S, Govindan R, Munivenkatappa M. Anger management in adolescents: a systematic review . Indian Journal of Psychiatric Nursing . 2020;17(1):51. doi:10.4103/IOPN.IOPN_37_19

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Anger management for substance use disorder and mental health clients .

Asvaroğlu SY, Bekiroğulları Z. Cognitive behavioural therapy treatment for child anger management . The European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences . 2020;2. doi:10.15405/ejsbs.2020.04.issue-2

National Institute of Mental Health. Borderline Personality Disorder .

Richard Y, Tazi N, Frydecka D, Hamid MS, Moustafa AA. A systematic review of neural, cognitive, and clinical studies of anger and aggression .  Curr Psychol . Published online June 8, 2022. doi:10.1007/s12144-022-03143-6

Diamond GM, Shahar B, Sabo D, Tsvieli N. Attachment-based family therapy and emotion-focused therapy for unresolved anger: The role of productive emotional processing .  Psychotherapy (Chic) . 2016;53(1):34-44. doi:10.1037/pst0000025

MedlinePlus. Learn to manage your anger .

Steffgen G. Anger management - evaluation of a cognitive-behavioral training program for table tennis players . Journal of Human Kinetics . 2017;55(1):65-73. doi:10.1515/hukin-2017-0006

Dewi IDADP, Kyranides MN. Physical, verbal, and relational aggression: the role of anger management strategies . Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma . 2021;0(0):1-18. doi:10.1080/10926771.2021.1994495

Qu W, Dai M, Zhao W, Zhang K, Ge Y. Expressing anger is more dangerous than feeling angry when driving . PLoS ONE . 2016;11(6):e0156948. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0156948

Henwood KS, Chou S, Browne KD. A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effectiveness of CBT informed anger management .  Aggression and Violent Behavior . 2015;25:280-292. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2015.09.011

Zarshenas L, Baneshi M, Sharif F, Moghimi Sarani E. Anger management in substance abuse based on cognitive behavioral therapy: an interventional study . BMC Psychiatry . 2017;17(1):375. doi:10.1186/s12888-017-1511-z

Vuoksimaa E, Rose RJ, Pulkkinen L, et al. Higher aggression is related to poorer academic performance in compulsory education . Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry . 2021;62(3):327-338. doi:10.1111/jcpp.13273

By Heather Jones Heather M. Jones is a freelance writer with a strong focus on health, parenting, disability, and feminism. 

Anger is the response we have to a problem we feel unable to solve, whether it’s a problem in our relationship, at work, or some other aspect of our lives. But anger is almost always an unconstructive response that escalates the problem, rather than solving it. Learning strategies for problem solving instead is not only constructive, but will also help you to manage and avoid using anger altogether.

Next time you start to feel yourself becoming angry at a particular situation, try some of these strategies for problem solving instead of giving in to your anger:

Change your thinking:  This is a great way to address problems from a different perspective. Sometimes the way we think can create barriers between the solution and us. Our brains are hard-wired to find and focus on threats as part of our in-built survival instinct. This lends itself to negative thinking, where we only focus on the problem and nothing else. By actively changing your thought process – focusing on goals and the steps you can take to achieve them, rather than always focusing on the problem – a more positive result is likely.

Work on communication   skills:  Communication is the key to good problem solving, especially if the problem is a relationship or social problem involving others. Anger disrupts the open flow of ideas, because the focus shifts from solving the problem to either criticising the other person, or defending yourself from criticism. Neither position is particularly conducive to clear communication. Think about what you’re saying – and how you’re saying it – is a good way to avoid conflict with another person. If you can communicate your feelings clearly, you’re less likely to become frustrated and angry – and the other person is less likely to react with anger as well.

Change your environment:  Sometimes your environment may not be a pleasant positive place to be, which can have a negative affect on your mood and cause you to become stressed, frustrated and ultimately angry. If your anger stems from a negative working environment, it might be time to look for a new job. Most of the time, however, the situation isn’t that dire. It might just be that you’re overworked, tired, and need a break. In which case, take some time off – have a holiday – and when you return, remember to  change your thinking , and  work on your communication skills .

These may seem like small, easy changes to make, but that’s why they work. Anger usually stems from a small issue that grows into a bigger problem over time. By addressing the issues head on when they appear, and with a willingness to problem-solve and communicate positively with those around you, you’ll have a better chance of solving the problem without anger.

If you would like to read more about ways to  manage anger , or for tips and advice on practical uses of positive thinking,  continue reading our blog  or  visit our website  for more information.

Marcus Andrews

Marcus Andrews

Marcus Andrews is the founder and director of Life Supports, which was established in 2002. He has extensive professional experience working as a counsellor and family therapist across a broad range of issues. The core component of his role at Life Supports involves the supervision of other counsellors, including secondary consultations. Marcus has worked in many sectors, including private, government, non-profit, health, forensic and community practice.

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Anger Management for Teens: Helpful Worksheets & Resources

Anger management for teens

Used strategically, it can help us pursue our goals and, within limits, drive us to find a happier and healthier life in the long run (Young, 2013).

When misplaced or out of control, it can wreck relationships and even lives. In adolescents, severe angry behavior can lead to chronic mental and physical health conditions over time (Travis, 2012).

It is crucial that teenagers understand the links between how they think, feel, and act (Collins-Donnelly, 2012).

This article introduces some practical resources and worksheets to help teenagers recognize anger and manage emotions to avoid outbursts and destructive behavior.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Emotional Intelligence Exercises for free . These science-based exercises will enhance your ability to understand and work with your emotions and will also give you the tools to foster the emotional intelligence of your clients, students, or employees.

This Article Contains:

Anger management for teens explained, 6 anger management worksheets for teens, best resources for helping youth, 4 educational videos for youth and students,’s anger management tools, a take-home message.

Anger in children and teens is an upsetting emotion with the potential for long-term damage if left untreated. While crucial to spot early, parents may be unclear of the cause or triggering factors, and left frustrated regarding how best to help their child (Travis, 2012).

Failure to recognize, understand, and resolve this anger can lead to chronic mental health problems, including anxiety and depression (Travis, 2012).

Teenage anger

Anger is typically expressed differently depending on the age of the child. Adolescent teenagers show their anger in more grown-up ways, most likely using their developed language and motor skills.

The behavior can be extreme and potentially includes “engaging in acts of substance abuse, misconduct behavior, assault, verbal threats, and sexual behavior” (Travis, 2012, p. 3).

To help, the caregiver, parent, teacher, or therapist must understand what triggers the anger – whether normal or out of control – and how to teach coping mechanisms to avoid or calm an angry episode. The chemical composition of the teenage brain is in a constant state of change, with research suggesting angry behavior is associated with a lack of neurotransmitters (Travis, 2012).

As there are many potential triggers for teenagers, it is important to observe whether related behavior tends to occur at a particular time, such as:

  • After school
  • When hungry or tired
  • Following changes to routines
  • After viewing particular types of TV shows, movies, or online content

Anger-related behavior in teenagers

Adolescent teens are considerably more independent than younger children and express their anger similarly to adults. Behavior can be irritable, defiant, and high risk, involving various unhealthy or unhelpful acts, such as (Travis, 2012):

  • Behaving rudely and disrespectfully to adults
  • Getting into altercations and fights with other students
  • Fits of rage, losing their temper, and becoming highly vindictive in what they say
  • Behavior motivated by payback and revenge
  • Engaging in substance abuse
  • Declining academic standards; falling behind the mean for their age

Note that while frustrating for close family and friends, anger that is out of control rather than normal can indicate serious and deep emotional issues (Travis, 2012).

In her book Anger Management, Judy Dyer (2020) says that it is crucial to break the anger cycle.

Each angry response begins with a triggering event. It might be another person’s actions, an event, or even a memory (Dyer, 2020).

Then, several irrational thoughts start to form, followed by a series of negative emotions .

If nothing happens to break the process, physical symptoms kick in, such as shaking, sweating, or even feeling sick. Then, finally, potentially out of control, angry, aggressive, or destructive behaviors may begin (Dyer, 2020).

While it sounds like a complicated process with several stages, it can escalate from trigger to outburst surprisingly quickly in the young or someone with limited self-control.

Managing teenage anger

Thankfully, there are many ways that teenagers can learn to combat or reduce their degree of anger, including (modified from Travis, 2012; Buckley, 2020):

  • Developing healthy and meaningful connections with a parent or guardian
  • Forming well-developed social skills
  • Having sufficient sleep is crucial at any age. Poor sleeping habits significantly affect our emotions, how we control them, and our overall mental wellbeing. Teenagers between 13 and 18 years old should get around 8.5 hours of sleep per night (Walker, 2018; Travis, 2012).
  • Problem solving — Coming up with more than one solution to a problem.
  • Anger management — Thinking before taking action and finding creative or physical outlets for anger.
  • Self-reflection — Understanding and reframing situations to make a better assessment of events and the environment.
  • Emotional awareness and regulation —  Understanding the emotions that impact us and being capable of managing reactions to them.
  • Assertiveness – Identifying when to concede ground and when to push for a desired outcome.

The worksheets and resources that follow help promote practical advice and develop better emotional management skills, language skills (becoming more able to talk about and explore feelings), and self-regulatory skills (improving control over emotions and anger).

Anger management worksheets

It can be beneficial to spend time together exploring the following indications that anger is becoming out of control (Travis, 2012):

  • Getting angry at everything that causes stress
  • Taking anger too far; for example, talking about seeking revenge or getting the person back for perceived wrongdoings
  • Holding onto a grudge for too long or staying angry long after an event has passed
  • Small events, such as someone being late, escalating and becoming a source of anger

Rather than covering for angry outbursts or giving in to demands, parents should recognize and understand that such behavior is neither normal nor acceptable (Buckley, 2020).

Instead, parents, teachers, and emotionally-focused therapists can “help the child reflect on their behavior and help provide guidance to coping with their anger” (Travis, 2012, p. 31).

In Starving the Anger Gremlin , Kate Collins-Donnelly (2012, p. 9) suggests a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach to managing anger in young people. She bases her guidance on “the premise that how we interpret experiences and situations has a profound effect on our behaviors and emotions.”

The following worksheets explore how to recognize anger, its triggers, and how to adopt healthier alternative coping styles and behavior (modified from Collins-Donnelly, 2012; Travis, 2012):

Understanding My Anger

Anger can appear unannounced, without warning. It can be helpful to recognize what it feels like early and the sort of behavior that can result (Collins-Donnelly, 2012).

Use the Understanding My Anger worksheet to help the teen identify how often they get angry, what it feels like, and the sort of behavior that arises.

  • How often do you get angry?
  • What does it feel like physically when you are angry?
  • How do you react or behave when you feel angry?
  • Can you think of three situations that typically make you angry where you could use more healthy behaviors?

Recognizing what it feels like to be angry and understanding that you have options regarding how you behave can be the first steps to gaining control over your anger.

What Makes Me Angry

We typically believe that other people or events make us angry, but it is our thoughts and beliefs that control our anger. We can, with practice, assume control over our feelings (Collins-Donnelly, 2012).

Use the What Makes Me Angry worksheet to encourage the teen to recognize that they have ultimate control over their anger.

Ask them to make a list of what makes them angry. Then consider each point in turn.

Help them understand that the decision to be angry is down to them. “It’s your thoughts and beliefs that make you angry” (Collins-Donnelly, 2012, p. 29).

Anger is about your reaction to the situation, not the situation itself.

Alternative Thoughts

Often, our thoughts about a situation or something that has happened are irrational and unrealistic. Such thinking can be unhelpful and make us emotional and even angry (Peters, 2018).

Use the Alternative Thoughts worksheet to help the teen recognize unrealistic thoughts and how they may blow the situation out of proportion. Then consider more rational, authentic thinking and how it could change the interpretation of the situation.

Ask them to think of three very specific situations that made them feel angry.

For each one, ask them to consider:

  • How were you thinking about the situation when you became angry?
  • What are the facts about the situation?
  • Were your thoughts realistic and rational?
  • What would more realistic and rational thoughts look like?

Reframing irrational thoughts can change the emotions and behaviors that arise.

Keep an anger diary

When there is no one around to talk to or ask for additional help, it can be valuable to capture thoughts and feelings, and self-reflect on angry episodes (Collins-Donnelly, 2012).

Use the Anger Diary worksheet to capture events or episodes that have led to feelings of anger.

The teenager reviews the diary once a week. They reflect on how they reacted to the situation and the consequences, and consider opportunities for using distraction techniques.

Impact of My Anger

Becoming angry can be upsetting for all involved. Often the angry person does not consider the impact they have on other people or the emotions they are left with.

Use the Impact of My Anger worksheet to capture examples of angry behavior and consider who has been impacted and how.

This exercise aims to help teenagers understand that the way we behave can upset others and impact how they feel.

Making Amends for My Angry Outburst

“More intimate relationships carry more emotion” (Peters, 2018, p. 104). When we say sorry to someone for our angry behavior, we send them the message that they and the relationship matter to us.

Teaching teenagers to apologize and offer something to make up for their wrongdoing is a valuable life lesson.

Using the Making Amends worksheet helps teenagers revisit what they have done, apologize for their behavior, and make things right.

Ask the teenager the following:

  • What was the situation?
  • Who did you upset?
  • How were they upset? How would they feel?
  • How and when could you apologize?
  • How could you make amends?

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These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients understand and use emotions advantageously.

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There are various resources available online that can inspire and educate young minds, help them manage their emotions, and offer essential parenting tips.

  • Young Minds This is a practical and helpful resource for teenagers who are keen to better understand the experience and emotions involved in anger. Additional links offer the interested reader additional guidance on depression and anxiety.
  • Anger Management for Teens Written for teenagers, this uncomplicated site discusses how anger feels and offers guidance on how it can be managed.
  • Deal With Anger This valuable guide for teenagers has practical tools to improve awareness and self-control. The five-step approach to managing anger is particularly beneficial.
  • Anger Overload in Children This article offers parents, teachers, or guardians helpful guidance on diagnosing more severe anger issues and practical behavioral and cognitive techniques to assist teenagers in regaining control of their emotions.
  • Parenting Angry Teens Try out the six tips for parenting angry teens and recognize that hostile teens are capable of becoming strong, healthy, independent adults.

Several valuable videos are available to help young people maintain or regain control of their emotions and find ways to avoid or reduce angry outbursts.

Try out some of the following with your teenagers:

How to Deal With Anger & Anger Management Tips

This engaging, fun, and insightful video put together with a video game backdrop explores the feelings of anger and the strategies that can help.

5 Keys to Controlling Anger

Anger management specialist Dr. Christian Conte offers helpful anger management tips.

Monitor and Manage Your Anger

Motivational philosopher and HuffPost Rise host Jay Shetty takes the viewer through how to spot, manage, and deal with anger.

Anger Is Your Ally

This excellent TED talk from Juna Mustad explores how to create a healthier relationship with anger through mindfulness techniques.

We have plenty of tools, worksheets, and activities to help anyone recognize angry feelings before they take control and better understand the anger triggers that cause an upset.

  • Anger Exit and Re-entry This worksheet helps clients recognize when best to disengage from conflict or difficult conversations, cool down, and re-engage later to facilitate greater insight and joint problem-solving.
  • Red Light: Anger! While typically aimed at younger children, this worksheet invites clients to draw pictures of their anger at different intensities and identify early signs of anger using a stop sign analogy.
  • The EQ 5-Point Tool This tool can help your clients learn to defuse conflict in an emotionally intelligent way using brief, respectful, and clear communication.
  • Spot-Check of Your Anger This worksheet presents a series of questions to help clients mindfully focus on signals of rising anger and consider appropriate actions to take in response.
  • Recommended reading This selection of anger management books includes various options and workbooks, just right for helping with teenager problems.

17 Emotional Intelligence Exercises If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others develop emotional intelligence, this collection contains 17 validated EI tools for practitioners. Use them to help others understand and use their emotions to their advantage.

problem solving for anger management

17 Exercises To Develop Emotional Intelligence

These 17 Emotional Intelligence Exercises [PDF] will help others strengthen their relationships, lower stress, and enhance their wellbeing through improved EQ.

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

While anger in an appropriate situation can be beneficial, it must be to the “right degree, at the right time, and for the right purpose” (Young, 2013). Otherwise, misplaced or disproportionate anger can be damaging for the individual and those around (Travis, 2012).

At school, children may exhibit anger and adopt risky behavior, break the rules, skip classes, and engage in potentially harmful pranks. Typically, teens with anger issues have not learned appropriate coping mechanisms or been taught the skills needed to manage their anger (Travis, 2012).

Without clear guidelines in place or structures to control their anger, teenagers can have difficulty understanding the impact of their actions on others or themselves.

However, children and young adults can learn skills that help them avoid triggers that lead to angry behavior, assist in managing irate outbursts, and provide the means to restore calm (Collins-Donnelly, 2012).

Teenagers can develop the capacity to understand and cope with their anger-related issues and acquire anger management skills much better than younger children. As language skills develop, soon-to-be adults can be taught to better explain and reflect on their feelings and process their emotions (Collins-Donnelly, 2012).

Learning self-regulatory skills can help control angry impulses, “their retaliations, frustration level, and anger arousal state, and limit their emotional outbursts” (Travis, 2012, p. 394).

Try out some of the worksheets and resources in this article with the teenagers exhibiting anger issues. Crucially, they can help young adults recognize and voice their own emotions and develop the skills needed to manage rather than escalate feelings of anger.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Emotional Intelligence Exercises for free .

  • Buckley, D. (2020, August 27). Strategies for teenagers’ anger management. BetterHelp . Retrieved June 15, 2021, from
  • Collins-Donnelly, K. (2012). Starving the anger gremlin: A cognitive behavioural therapy workbook on anger management for young people . Jessica Kingsley.
  • Dyer, J. (2020). Anger management: How to take control of your emotions and find joy in life . Pristine.
  • Peters, S. (2018). The silent guides: Understanding and developing the mind throughout life . Lagom.
  • Travis, R. L. (2012). Overcoming anger in teens and pre-teens: A parent’s guide . Author.
  • Young, E. (2013, February 6). Do get mad: The upside of anger. New Scientist. Retrieved June 15, 2021,
  • Walker, M. P. (2018). Why we sleep: The new science of sleep and dreams . Penguin Books.

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Tahj moghaddam

I have understood now that having anger can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you use it. You can use it for protecting yourself or even someone else. But you can also abuse your ability of anger by bullying people, fighting for an unnecessary reason, or even just being a jerk. These are three favorite things to do when I get angry; number one is to take five or ten deep breaths, number two do about 10 or 20 push ups, number three scream or fight your pillow. All of these things will help let all of that anger, stress, and anxiety that has been building up inside of you. You can use these when you feel like you need to calm down and take a breather. Next time someone makes me mad or stressed I know what to do when that time comes, I can either take deep breaths, do push ups, or let it all out on my pillow when I get home. I have also learned how to not take things too seriously. If you take things too seriously no one is going to want to joke around with you because everytime they make a joke you get all in your feelings and start to get upset and angry at the person who made the joke. Also if people know that you can’t take a joke no one is gonna want to be your friend, because no one wants a friend that can make jokes but can’t take jokes, if you get mad that someone is joking with you and you get mad that is not fair to the person that wants to have fun, your not the only one who can make jokes and get away with it, other people want to have fun to, and that is why we all need to control our anger.

Suzanne LaCross, Ph.D

Is there a therapist in the Seattle who works with this issues with adoloscents?

Caroline Rou

Hi Suzanne,

Thank you for your question. As we are not based in the US, it is difficult for us to make recommendations for reliable therapists. I suggest you look for a therapist directory in your area and filter your search.

I hope this helps 🙂

Kind regards, -Caroline | Community Manager

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Behavioral Interventions for Anger, Irritability, and Aggression in Children and Adolescents

Objective: Anger, irritability, and aggression are among the most common reasons for child mental health referrals. This review is focused on two forms of behavioral interventions for these behavioral problems: Parent management training (PMT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Methods: First, we provide an overview of anger/irritability and aggression as the treatment targets of behavioral interventions, followed by a discussion of the general principles and techniques of these treatment modalities. Then we discuss our current work concerning the transdiagnostic approach to CBT for anger, irritability, and aggression.

Results: PMT is aimed at improving aversive patterns of family interactions that engender children's disruptive behavior. CBT targets deficits in emotion regulation and social problem-solving that are associated with aggressive behavior. Both forms of treatment have received extensive support in randomized controlled trials. Given that anger/irritability and aggressive behavior are common in children with a variety of psychiatric diagnoses, a transdiagnostic approach to CBT for anger and aggression is described in detail.

Conclusions: PMT and CBT have been well studied in randomized controlled trials in children with disruptive behavior disorders, and studies of transdiagnostic approaches to CBT for anger and aggression are currently underway. More work is needed to develop treatments for other types of aggressive behavior (e.g., relational aggression) that have been relatively neglected in clinical research. The role of callous-unemotional traits in response to behavioral interventions and treatment of irritability in children with anxiety and mood disorders also warrants further investigation.


C hildhood disruptive behaviors such as anger outbursts and aggression are among the most frequent reasons for outpatient mental health referrals. In the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), anger/irritability is the core symptom of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and aggressive behavior is most commonly associated with conduct disorder (CD) (American Psychiatric Association 2013 ). However, children with other psychiatric disorders are also at increased risk of anger and aggression, and disruptive behavior disorders are often comorbid with other forms of psychopathology. For example, in population-based studies, the prevalence rates of disruptive behavior disorders range from 14% to 35% in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), from 14% to 62% in children with anxiety disorders, and from 9% to 45% in children with mood disorders (Nock et al. 2007 ). This review is focused on psychosocial interventions for anger/irritability and aggression as dimensions of child psychopathology. Specifically, we include parent management training (PMT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), because these modalities have received extensive empirical support as stand-alone interventions that are provided in the format of outpatient psychotherapy (Sukhodolsky et al. 2004 ; Dretzke et al. 2009 ). There is also evidence that these behavioral interventions can be helpful in conjunction with medication management for severe aggression (Aman et al. 2014 ) and as part of multimodal interventions for serious conduct problems, which address multiple risk factors (Sukhodolsky and Ruchkin 2006 ). First, we provide an overview of anger/irritability and aggression as the treatment targets of behavioral interventions, followed by a discussion of the general principles and techniques of these treatment modalities. Then we discuss our current work concerning the transdiagnostic approach to CBT for anger, irritability, and aggression.

Anger, Irritability, and Aggression as Treatment Targets of Behavioral Interventions

Anger is a negative affective state that may include increased physiological arousal, thoughts of blame, and an increased predisposition toward aggressive behavior (Berkowitz and Harmon-Jones 2004). Anger is often triggered by frustration or interpersonal provocation. It can also vary in duration from minutes to hours and range in intensity from mild annoyance to rage and fury. Factor-analytical studies distinguish between anger experience (i.e., the inner feeling), and anger expression (i.e., an individual's tendency to show anger outwardly, suppress it, or actively cope with it by deploying adaptive anger control skills) (Spielberger 1988 ). Improving anger control skills is a primary focus of child-directed CBT approaches that teach skills for coping with anger and frustration that are part of a broader repertoire of emotion regulation strategies.

From the developmental standpoint, various aspects of the experience and expression of anger emerge at different times and follow different developmental trajectories. Temper tantrums that include crying, stomping, pushing, hitting, and kicking are common in 1–4-year-old children and range in frequency from 5 to 9 times per week with an average duration of 5–10 minutes (Potegal et al. 2003 ). The intensity and number of tantrums tend to decrease with age, although typically developing children continue to outwardly display anger and frustration, behaviors that parents often label as tantrums. This decrease in the frequency of temper tantrums as children age is paralleled by the development of emotion regulation skills and the acquisition of socially appropriate ways to express anger (Blanchard-Fields and Coats 2008). Intense and out-of-control anger outbursts may be of clinical concern in young children (Wakschlag et al. 2010 ). Intense anger outbursts in response to trivial provocations may also persist across development and manifest across various psychiatric disorders. Because of an apparent lack of control, these behaviors have been referred to as “rage attacks” in severe mood dysregulation (Carlson 2007 ) and Tourette Syndrome (TS) (Budman et al. 2003 ) as well as “meltdowns” in children on the autism spectrum (Samson et al. 2015 ).

Over the past decade, factor-analytical studies of ODD symptoms have identified a unique dimension of irritability defined by three symptoms: Often loses temper, easily annoyed, and often angry and resentful (Stringaris and Goodman 2009 ; Burke et al. 2014 ). As a result, the symptoms of ODD are now grouped into three types: Angry/irritable mood, argumentativeness/defiant behavior, and vindictiveness, which highlights both the emotional and behavioral aspects of this disorder. Longitudinal studies have shown that irritability symptoms in childhood are associated with mood and anxiety disorders later in life, whereas defiance and vindictiveness predict later conduct problems (Whelan et al. 2013 ). Growing recognition of irritability in childhood psychopathology (Leibenluft and Stoddard 2013 ) and research on severe mood dysregulation (Leibenluft 2011 ) have led to adding a new diagnostic category in the DSM-5, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) (American Psychiatric Association 2013 ). The core symptoms of DMDD include frequent temper outbursts (i.e., three or more times per week) and irritable or depressed mood between the temper outbursts lasting for most of the day nearly every day. Temper outburst may be manifested as verbal rages and/or physical aggression toward people and property.

Aggression can be defined as an overt behavior that can result in harm to self or others (Connor 2002 ). Several subtypes of aggression (e.g., impulsive, reactive, hostile, affective) have been described based on the presence of an angry affect and contrasted with instrumental, proactive, or planned types of aggression that are not “fueled” by anger (Vitiello and Stoff 1997 ). Another well-known classification distinguishes between overtly confrontational antisocial behaviors, such as arguing and fighting, and covert antisocial behaviors, such as lying, stealing, and breaking rules (Frick et al. 1993 ). Physical aggression was found to be a significant risk factor for conduct disorder at an early age of onset, later violence, and other mental health problems such as ADHD and anxiety (Loeber et al. 2000 ). Compared with physical aggression, nonaggressive antisocial behavior was shown to follow a different developmental trajectory (Nagin and Tremblay 1999 ) and predict later nonviolent criminal offenses (Kjelsberg 2002 ).

Principles and Efficacy of PMT

The causal pathways to childhood anger/irritability and aggressive behavior involve multiple interacting biological, environmental, and psychosocial risk factors (Loeber et al. 2009 ). PMT aims to ameliorate patterns of family interactions that produce antecedents and consequences of maintaining tantrums, aggression, and noncompliance. PMT techniques stem from the fundamental principle of operant conditioning, which states that the likelihood of behavior to recur is increased or weakened based on the events that follow the behavior (Skinner 1938 ). For example, a child is more likely to have another tantrum if previous anger outbursts have resulted in an escape from parental demands or the continuation of a preferred activity. Behaviors such as noncompliance, whining, or bickering may also be reinforced if the same benefits are afforded to the child (Patterson et al. 1989 ).

Harsh and inconsistent discipline such as excessive scolding and corporal punishment have also been shown to increase aggressive behaviors (Gershoff 2002 ). The broad goals of PMT are to reduce the child's aggression and noncompliance by improving parental competence in dealing with these maladaptive behaviors. During PMT, parents are taught to identify the function of maladaptive behavior, to give praise for appropriate behavior, to communicate directions effectively, to ignore maladaptive attention-seeking behavior, and to use consistent consequences for disruptive behaviors. PMT is conducted with parents, although for some approaches, children are invited to facilitate the practice of new parenting skills (Eyberg et al. 2008 ). The efficacy and effectiveness of PMT have been evaluated in >100 randomized controlled studies (Dretzke et al. 2009 ; Michelson et al. 2013 ) and excellent treatment manuals are available for clinicians (Kazdin 2005 ; Barkley 2013). There is evidence that the improvements in child behavior are stable over time and can prevent antisocial behavior in adulthood (Scott et al. 2014 ).

The relative efficacy of different parent training approaches have not been well studied in randomized controlled studies, but meta-analytic reviews suggest that program components associated with larger effects include increased positive parent–child interactions and emotional communication skills, parental consistency with consequences, and in vivo practice of new skills with parents (Wyatt Kaminski et al. 2008 ). Improving parent–child communication about emotions has become a focus of emotion coaching interventions, which teach parents the importance of acknowledging and accepting their children's emotional experiences as well as modeling for their children how to identify, label, and cope with strong emotions (Ramsden and Hubbard 2002 ). A recent study of emotion coaching for parents of preschool children found improvements in children's emotional knowledge and reductions in behavior problems (Havighurst et al. 2010 ). However, adding an emotion coaching component to the already established Positive Parenting Program (Triple-P) did not show additive effects in reducing disruptive behavior (Salmon et al. 2014 ).

Other developments in parent-directed interventions have included adaptations of PMT for children with specific neurodevelopmental disorders. Our work has shown that PMT could be helpful for disruptive behavior in children with TS (Scahill et al. 2006 ) and in children with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) (Sukhodolsky et al. 2013 ). Modifications of PMT for these clinical populations required careful consideration of anger outbursts in the context of symptoms manifesting from the primary disorder. For example, irritability and noncompliance could be associated with OCD-related fears or failure of parents to provide accommodations for compulsive behaviors (Storch et al. 2012 ). In children with tics, disruptive behaviors have to be disentangled from complex tics that might resemble purposeful behavior (Sukhodolsky and Scahill 2007 ). More recently, the Research Units on Behavioral Intervention (RUBI) Autism Network has developed and tested a parent training program for irritability and noncompliance in young children with autism (Bearss et al. 2015 ). In addition to standard PMT strategies, the parent training for children on the autism spectrum contains extensive functional assessment strategies, visual schedules for daily routines, and instructions to parents on how to teach developmentally appropriate and adaptive skills to their children.

Child-Directed CBT Approaches

CBT targets deficits in emotion regulation and social problem-solving skills that are associated with aggressive behavior (Dodge 2003). The label “cognitive-behavioral” is used to refer to interventions that are conducted with the child and have an emphasis on the learning principles and the use of structured strategies to produce changes in thinking, feeling, and behavior (Kendall 2006 ). Common cognitive-behavioral techniques include identifying the antecedents and consequences of aggressive behavior, learning strategies for recognizing and regulating anger expression, problem-solving and cognitive restructuring techniques, and modeling and rehearsing socially appropriate behaviors that can replace angry and aggressive reactions. Although CBT is conducted with the child, parents have multiple roles in treatment, including bringing their child to therapy, providing information about their child's behavioral problems, and creating an environment between sessions that is conducive to their child practicing CBT skills. Importantly, parents are asked to recognize their child's effort when applying emotion regulation and problem-solving skills learned in CBT to anger-provoking situations and to provide praise and rewards for behavioral improvements.

Various cognitive-behavioral approaches place relative emphasis on at least one of three content areas: Regulation of excessive anger, learning social problem-solving strategies, and/or developing social skills alternative to aggressive behaviors. Anger control training (ACT) aims to improve emotion regulation and social-cognitive deficits in aggressive children. Children are taught to monitor their emotional arousal and to use techniques such as cognitive reappraisal and relaxation for modulating elevated levels of anger. As part of the training, children also practice socially appropriate responses to anger-provoking situations such as being teased by peers or reprimanded by adults. Several programs of research have evaluated versions of ACT with children (Lochman et al. 2003 ), adolescents (Feindler and Ecton 1986; Deffenbacher et al. 1996 ), and young adults (Kassinove and Tafrate 2002 ). Problem-solving skills training (PSST) addresses cognitive processes, such as faulty perceptions and decision making that are involved in social interaction. For example, hostile attribution bias or inability to generate alternative solutions may contribute to aggressive behavior. Originating from research on social information processing (Dodge et al. 1990 ) and problem solving in children (Shure and Spivack 1972 ), hundreds of studies have examined the association between cognitions in social situations and aggressive behavior (Dodge 2003 ). Participants of PSST are taught to analyze interpersonal conflicts, to develop nonaggressive solutions, and to think about the consequences of their actions in problematic situations. The efficacy of PSST has been demonstrated in several controlled studies (Guerra and Slaby 1990 ; Kazdin et al. 1992 ; Hudley and Graham 1993 ). There is initial evidence that the effects of PSST on conduct problems may be mediated by a change in the targeted deficits in social information processing (Sukhodolsky et al. 2005 ). Social skills training (SST) approaches to reducing aggression and developing assertive behavior are rooted in social-learning theory (Bandura 1973 ). Aggressive youth have been shown to have weak verbal skills, poor conflict resolution skills, and deficits in skills that facilitate friendships (Deater-Deckard 2001 ). The goal of SST with aggressive youth is to enhance social behaviors that can be deployed instead of aggression, as well as behaviors that can be used to develop friendships with nondelinquent peers. Meta-analytic reviews report moderate effects of SST on disruptive behavior (Losel and Beelmann 2003 ) and SST is often used as part of multicomponent interventions such as aggression replacement training (Gundersen and Svartdal 2006 ).

Transdiagnostic Approach to CBT for Anger/Irritability and Aggression

Our approach to CBT for childhood anger and aggression has emerged over the course of three randomized controlled trials (Sukhodolsky and Scahill 2012). The first study evaluated CBT in 33 elementary school children referred by teachers for aggressive behavior in the school setting (Sukhodolsky et al. 2000 ). Compared with the no-treatment control condition, children who received CBT displayed a reduction in teacher reports of aggression and improvement in self-reported anger control. The second study utilized a dismantling design to investigate the relative effectiveness of the social skills training and problem-solving training components of CBT in 26 children referred by their parents for high levels of aggressive behavior (Sukhodolsky et al. 2005 ). Children in both conditions showed a reduction in aggression, whereas the problem-solving condition resulted in a greater reduction in hostile attribution bias, and the skills-training condition resulted in a greater improvement in anger control skills. We also evaluated CBT for explosive anger outbursts and aggression in adolescents with TS (Sukhodolsky et al. 2009 ). TS is characterized by chronic motor and phonic tics that co-occur with disruptive behavior in up to 80% of referred cases (Sukhodolsky et al. 2003 ). We conducted the first randomized study of CBT for anger control versus treatment as usual in 26 adolescents with TS and disruptive behavior. Assessments, which included evaluations by a blinded rater, parent reports, and child self-reports, were conducted before and after treatment as well as 3 months posttreatment. All randomized subjects completed the endpoint evaluation. The parent rating of disruptive behavior decreased by 52% in the CBT condition compared with a decrease of 11% in the control condition. The independent evaluator who was unaware of treatment assignment rated 9 of 13 subjects (69%) in the CBT condition as much improved or very much improved as compared with 2 of 13 (15%) subjects improved in the control condition. The CBT treatment manual that has been developed in these clinical studies has been recently published by Guilford Press (Sukhodolsky and Scahill 2012). Our team is currently conducting a large randomized trial of efficacy and neural mechanisms of CBT for aggression versus a supportive psychotherapy control condition in children across diagnostic categories, which has been funded in response to the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative. The design of this study is described in our companion article of this issue (Sukhodolsky at al. 2016 this issue).

The treatment starts with a detailed assessment of the frequency (i.e., number of episodes per week), duration (i.e., time) and intensity (i.e., risk of injury, property damage, and impact on family) of anger outbursts and aggressive behaviors. Aggression is operationalized as instances of verbal threats, physical aggression, property damage, and self-injury (Silver and Yudofsky 1991 ). Based on a structured clinical interview with the parent(s) and the child, two to three of the most pressing behavioral problems are identified as target symptoms, and used to tailor therapeutic techniques as outlined in the treatment manual (Sukhodolsky and Scahill 2012 ). The treatment is organized into three modules: Emotion regulation, social problem-solving, and the development of social skills for preventing and resolving conflict situations. The first module starts with identifying anger triggers, developing prevention strategies, and learning emotion regulation skills such as cognitive reappraisal and relaxation training. Sessions 4–6 cover problem-solving skills such as the generation of multiple solutions and the consideration of consequences for different courses of action in conflicts. Sessions 7–9 focus on developing skills for preventing or resolving potentially anger-provoking situations with friends, siblings, parents, and teachers. For example, participants are asked to recall a situation in which they acted aggressively and to role-play behaviors that would have prevented the enactment of aggressive behaviors. Each session consists of a menu of therapeutic techniques and activities that can be use used in a flexible yet reliable manner in order to achieve session goals. Each child session also includes a parent component in which parents are informed about the skills that their child has learned in the session, and a plan is devised that enables the practicing of these skills before the next session. Parents are asked to serve as coaches to facilitate the acquisition of new skills by rewarding nonaggressive behaviors with praise, attention, and privileges. Three separate parent sessions are provided to identify patterns of aversive family interactions that might initiate or maintain a child's aggressive behavior. Parents are then given instruction on how to pay attention to their child's positive behavior and to provide consistent reinforcement for their child's efforts in tolerating frustration and using cognitive problem-solving strategies. Additional parenting strategies discussed in treatment include giving effective commands, ignoring minor misbehaviors, and setting up behavioral contracts.

Although excellent treatment manuals are available in the area of child and adolescent anger control (Feindler and Ecton 1986 ; Lochman et al. 2008 ), most are written in a group therapy format for use in school or inpatient settings. Our manual has been structured for providing CBT during individual outpatient psychotherapy. Another feature that sets our approach apart is the focus on a flexible yet consistent implementation of CBT in children and adolescents with moderate to severe anger/irritability and physical aggression in the outpatient setting. The manual provides guidelines for flexible delivery by allowing therapists to select from several numbered activities that correspond to each session's treatment goals, which can be matched to targeted behavioral problems on the one hand and to the child's motivation and developmental level on the other hand. Lastly, the manual contains treatment fidelity checklists to aid in evaluating treatment adherence, an important part of implementing treatment in a reliable fashion (Perepletchikova and Kazdin 2005 ).

Considerations for Future Research

Although a considerable number of clinical studies have been dedicated to physical aggression, little is known about the treatment of relational aggression. Relational aggression refers to hurting others by damaging their personal relationships or social status, in contrast to overt aggression, which involves hurting someone by physical means (Crick and Grotpeter 1995 ). Although less apparent than overt aggression, relational aggression is associated with depression, social anxiety, and loneliness (Roecker Phelps 2001 ). To our knowledge, all treatment studies that include relational aggression outcome measures have been conducted in school settings (Leff et al. 2010 ). A recent study of a 15-week curriculum focused on communication and problem-solving skills for reducing various types of aggression, which showed a decrease in physical aggression, but no change in relational aggression (Espelage et al. 2013 ). A review of 13 classroom-based prevention programs showed small effect sizes on measures of relational aggression, and concluded that these programs were less effective in addressing relational aggression than overt aggression. A two-pronged approach would help in the development of evidence-based treatments for relational aggression. First, studies of existing behavioral treatments for children with externalizing disorders should include measures of relational aggression. Second, targeted interventions for this form of aggression in children with clinically significant levels of relational aggression should be tested in randomized controlled trials.

Treatment of anger and aggression in the context of co-occurring anxiety and depression poses questions about the sequencing of interventions for primary and secondary symptoms, as well as what risk factors might contribute to the co-occurrence of externalizing and internalizing problems. On the one hand, some studies show that treatment of the primary mood disorder may result in the reduction of associated behavioral problems (Jacobs et al. 2010 ). On the other hand, disruptive behavior may reduce compliance with psychosocial interventions for internalizing symptoms and contribute to functional impairments conferred by the primary diagnoses (Garcia et al. 2010 ). Children with elevated symptoms of anxiety/depression demonstrate greater gains following treatment with parent training (Ollendick et al. 2015 ) and CBT for aggressive behavior (Jarrett et al. 2014 ). It has been suggested that a combination of permissive and controlling/hostile parenting styles may contribute to co-occurring anxiety and conduct problems (Granic 2014 ) and parent-focused treatments have been increasingly used for treatment of anxiety in children (Forehand et al. 2013 ). Similar techniques of cognitive restructuring and problem solving are used within CBT approaches for anxiety/depression and aggressive behavior, which suggests commonality in the emotion regulation skills that are taught to improve both internalizing and externalizing disorders.

Relatively little is known about the treatment of conduct problems in children with callous-unemotional traits (i.e., lack of guilt and empathy). These traits have been associated with persistent and more severe forms of antisocial behavior as well as with distinct neurocognitive deficits in reward processing and social perception (Blair et al. 2015 ). It has been suggested that reduced sensitivity to negative consequences in children with conduct disorder complicated by callous-unemotional traits may reduce the effectiveness of rewards and discipline-focused components of PMT (Hawes et al. 2014 ). At the same time, the increased parental warmth and sensitivity that has been observed following treatment with PMT (O'Connor et al. 2013 ), may serve as the critical element of family-based interventions for ameliorating the lack of empathy and shallow affect conferred by the callous-unemotional traits. One study showed that a 6-hour program that included teaching emotion recognition skills directly to children with high callous-unemotional traits was more effective than parent training, but the effect size for this difference was relatively small (Dadds et al. 2012 ). This suggests that similar and, perhaps, longer treatments that teach emotion recognition and social problem-solving skills directly to children in combination with parent-focused interventions that increase parental warmth and the quality of parent–child interactions may be helpful for children with callous-unemotional traits. These hypotheses are awaiting investigation in randomized controlled trials.


PMT and CBT have been well studied in randomized controlled trials in children with disruptive behavior disorders, and studies involving the transdiagnostic approach to CBT for anger and aggression are currently underway. More work is needed to develop treatments for other types of aggressive behavior (i.e., relational aggression) that have been relatively neglected in clinical research. The role of callous-unemotional traits in response to behavioral interventions and treatment of irritability in children with anxiety and mood disorders also warrants further investigation.

Clinical Significance

Anger/irritability and aggression are among the most frequent reasons for mental health referrals in children and adolescents. PMT is a form of behavioral therapy that aims to ameliorate patterns of family interactions that produce antecedents and consequences that maintain the child's anger and aggression. CBT is another well-studied psychosocial treatment for anger and aggression in children and adolescents. During CBT, children learn how to regulate their frustration, improve their social problem-solving skills, and role-play assertive behaviors that can be used during conflicts instead of aggression. Both PMT and CBT can be offered in the format of time-limited psychotherapy in outpatient mental health centers.


Dr. Denis Sukhodolsky receives royalties from Guilford Press for a treatment manual on cognitive-behavioral therapy for anger and aggression in children. Dr. Stephanie Smith, Ms. Spencer McCauley, Mr. Karim Ibrahim, and Dr. Justyna Piasecka report no conflicts of interest.

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What Happens in Anger Management Classes?

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Attending an Anger Management Class

Anger management classes vs. individual therapy, does anger management work, getting anger management help.

Anger management classes are psychoeducation interventions that focus on helping people learn how to identify anger triggers and manage complicated feelings in a healthy, productive way. If you feel like you're anger is out of control, taking one of these classes may help you feel more empowered and in control.

Whether you’ve been mandated to attend anger management or are interested in attending a class on your own accord, you might wonder what to expect or how it could help. While there are many different ways a class might be led, anger management classes aim to teach people the skills they need to regulate their emotions and calm themselves down .

At a Glance

Does anger management work? Uncontrolled anger can take a serious toll on your health and relationships, but learning how to manage it effectively can reduce your risks. Learning more about anger management classes, including what they do and how they work, can help you get more out of the experience.

Attending a class may feel a little intimidating at first. But, you could learn valuable life skills that could help you gain better control over your emotions so anger doesn’t cause problems in your life.

Who Takes Anger Management Classes?

Anger management classes may be taken by anyone who wants to get a better handle on their anger. A few examples of the type of people you might encounter in an anger management class include:

  • A parent who yells at their kid
  • A partner who is emotionally abusive during arguments
  • A supervisor who blows up at employees

Anger Management May Be Court-Ordered

Sometimes, anger management classes are court-ordered. A judge may order a violent offender to complete an anger management program. Or, a judge may mandate that a parent attend anger management class as part of a custody agreement.

Anger management classes are sometimes used in residential settings. People with traumatic brain injuries, for example, may attend anger management classes while in a psychiatric setting.

Many anger management classes are conducted as educational classes rather than group therapy. Usually, a trained instructor walks participants through a series of anger management strategies . Then, armed with new strategies participants can work to diminish their aggressive behavior and reduce the anger in their daily lives.

Keep in mind that anger is a normal emotion. Anger only becomes an issue when it is expressed in unhealthy ways. Consequently, good anger management classes are geared toward managing anger not learning how to hold it in.

In short, anger management teaches people how to identify their anger and respond in healthier ways. For this reason, it's important to view anger management as an opportunity to optimize your well-being and improve your relationships rather than as something punitive—even if it's court-ordered.

Anger Therapy

Sometimes, people who are attending an anger management group also may require individual anger therapy . A person who has experienced past trauma , for example, may benefit from having a therapist help them process their trauma while simultaneously learning anger management skills through a class setting.

Anger management also can be taught in individual therapy. Individual therapy offers more flexibility in terms of scheduling.

Plus, the participant can receive more individual attention and privacy. However, therapy typically costs more than a class and does not contain the added benefit of learning from other people in a group setting.

Hearing what works for another person or watching a fellow classmate role-play a situation may lead to new understanding.

What Do You Learn in Anger Management Classes?

There are different types of curriculum used in anger management classes. But, most of them are based on cognitive behavioral therapy strategies.

The cognitive behavioral approach to anger management involves teaching participants how to recognize the warning signs that their anger is rising.

Some other tactics that you might learn in anger management classes include:

  • Relaxation techniques : Participants are also taught relaxation strategies, like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, and calming techniques or how to make behavioral changes.
  • Cognitive reframing : They’re also taught how to change the thoughts that fuel their angry feelings, which are the cognitive changes they will make.
  • Communication skills : Anger management may also help people learn how to listen first and take a moment before they respond. This can help them learn more about what the other person is saying before reacting.

Overall, these strategies can be adapted for various groups, including adolescents, individuals with substance abuse issues, and even parents.

How Long Does Anger Management Last?

Depending on the type of curriculum and the needs of the group, anger management classes may range from eight sessions to 28 sessions. Classes usually take place on a weekly basis and they are usually one to two hours in length.

Classes Are Small

Classes are usually fairly small. For instance, some groups may include only 10 people at a time. Completion of the class may result in a "diploma" or certificate of completion.

You May Have Homework

Usually, members are given a workbook with weekly homework assignments. These assignments give participants an opportunity to practice the skills they’ve learned.

The good news is that anger management classes appear to be an effective way to help people learn to regulate their emotions and build greater self-control.

One study found that an anger management program was effective in decreasing anger levels. It also helped participants improve their problem-solving and communication skills.

Better Communication Skills

Improving your ability to respond to stressful or frustrating situations in a healthy and productive way is one of the primary benefits of anger management. You will learn how to be assertive without being aggressive or intimidating. And, in the end, your relationships and your well-being will improve.

Better Well-Being

Not only does anger management teach you how to communicate your needs in a healthy way, but it also will help you maintain better health. It may even help you curb the side effects of unhealthy anger , like headaches, sleeplessness, and stomach issues.

Better Coping Skills

Additionally, learning to manage anger effectively reduces the likelihood that you will turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with stress, frustration, and anger. One study found that a CBT-based anger management treatment was associated with significantly less alcohol use.

Instead of using maladaptive coping skills when you are angry, you will know how to reduce these feelings in healthy and productive ways.

Attending an anger management class could be beneficial if you struggle to control your anger or find that you lash out at others and later regret your words or actions. It could help you gain better control over your anger and learn how to interact with others more productively.

Finding an appropriate class can feel overwhelming when you aren’t sure where to look. But if you think you could benefit from an anger management class, start by talking to your physician.

Your doctor may be able to help you locate a class or refer you to a mental health agency that can assist you in finding resources. You also can contact your local community center or hospital. They may offer classes or may be able to direct you to another resource in your community.

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By Amy Morin, LCSW Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.


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    Anger can range in intensity from low-level annoyance to fire-breathing fury (Staicu & Cuţov, 2010) and can bring about changes in physiology, such as increased blood pressure (Lochman, Palardy, McElroy, Phillips, & Holmes, 2004). The origins of anger can be external or internal. Some examples of external anger triggers could be:

  5. Your Anger Management Guide: Best Techniques & Exercises

    2. Exercise and sports. Sports and exercise help manage anger and control emotions (Pels & Kleinert, 2016). Walking, running, and gardening are effective at lowering anxiety levels, improving mood, and offering protection from stress and irritability (Catalano, 2018). 3.

  6. Anger Management

    The problem isn't having anger, it's having too much anger, and expressing it in an ineffective way. Anger management teaches us to deal with our anger in a healthy way. Like the name implies, it teaches us to manage our anger, not extinguish it. Anger management begins with practicing self-awareness--learning to take a step back and see your ...

  7. Anger Management: What It Is, Skills & Techniques

    Problem-solving and communication skills. Relaxation techniques. In some cases, your therapist may recommend that you see a physician to prescribe medications to help you deal with psychological issues — like depression or anxiety — that often underlie chronic anger issues. What is anger?

  8. Strategies for controlling your anger: Keeping anger in check

    American Psychological Association. (2011, October 1). Strategies for controlling your anger: Keeping anger in check. Wrath, fury, rage — whatever you call it, anger is a powerful emotion. Unfortunately, it's often an unhelpful one.

  9. Anger Management Therapy Skills and Techniques

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used treatment for anger management, and many studies have shown its effectiveness.

  10. What Is Anger Management Therapy?

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is often the treatment of choice for anger management, according to Engle. She says it can help you understand your triggers for anger, develop and practice coping skills, and think, feel, and behave differently in response to anger, so you are calmer and more in control.

  11. Anger Issues: Causes, Symptoms, and Management

    Anger becomes a problem when you have trouble managing it, causing you to say or do things you regret. A 2010 study found that uncontrolled anger is bad for your physical and mental health.

  12. PDF Self Help for Anger

    Improving your problem solving skills. Consider making positive changes to your lifestyle. Improving your communication skills. When going through this booklet it might be helpful to try out each strategy one at a time, rather than trying to learn them all at once. However, simply take things at your own pace. Do I have an anger problem?

  13. Wellness Module 5: Anger Management

    It can push you to solve problems. It can help you stand up for yourself and others. For example, people who feel angry about social injustice may speak out and bring about positive change to the system. On the down side, too much anger is not good for you. Some people who experience frequent and intense anger may avoid expressing their anger.

  14. How to Control Anger: 25 Tips to Help You Stay Calm

    4. Relax your muscles. Progressive muscle rel a xation calls on you to tense and slowly relax various muscle groups in your body, one at a time. As you tense and release, take slow, deliberate ...

  15. 14 Anger Management Techniques And How They Work

    Consider problem-solving. Some people feel angry when they feel out of control of a situation. If you can pinpoint a problem that caused you to feel angry, try to change your focus to a problem-solving lens. You can use the energy of your anger to consider what might put an end to the situation or make it less impactful.

  16. How problem solving skills can help with anger management

    Work on communication skills: Communication is the key to good problem solving, especially if the problem is a relationship or social problem involving others. Anger disrupts the open flow of ideas, because the focus shifts from solving the problem to either criticising the other person, or defending yourself from criticism.

  17. Dealing with Strong Emotions: CBT for Anger Management

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach that has shown effectiveness in anger management. By understanding the principles of CBT, how it helps with anger management, and the role of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, individuals can gain valuable insights into managing their anger in a healthier way.

  18. Anger Management Activity: Free Problem Solving Cards

    Anger Management Free Printable: Problem Solving - The Helpful Counselor Anger Management Activity: Free Problem Solving Cards I work with angry kids every day I go to work (and sometimes at home with my own 3 kiddos). We all feel anger. Anger is not bad in of itself; it's what we do when we are angry that matters.

  19. Anger Management for Teens: Helpful Worksheets & Resources

    Positive Emotions 20 Sep 2023 Anger Management for Teens: Helpful Worksheets & Resources 18 Jun 2021 by Jeremy Sutton, Ph.D. Scientifically reviewed by William Smith, Ph.D. Anger is not all bad. Used strategically, it can help us pursue our goals and, within limits, drive us to find a happier and healthier life in the long run (Young, 2013).

  20. Anger Worksheets

    worksheet. The Coping Skills: Anger worksheet describes six techniques for managing anger. Some of these skills can help to prevent or minimize explosive anger, such as triggers and warning signs. Other skills are intended to take control of anger, such as diversions, time-outs, and deep breathing.

  21. Behavioral Interventions for Anger, Irritability, and Aggression in

    CBT targets deficits in emotion regulation and social problem-solving that are associated with aggressive behavior. Both forms of treatment have received extensive support in randomized controlled trials.

  22. What Happens in Anger Management Class?

    Anger management classes can help people control anger. If you are going to be taking anger management classes, learn more about what you can expect to learn. ... Bhaskarapillai B. Effectiveness of anger management program on anger level, problem solving skills, communication skills, and adjustment among school-going adolescents.

  23. PDF Updated 2019 ANGER

    This workbook is designed to be used by participants in an anger management group treatment for individuals with substance use or mental disorders. Practitioners report that the manual and workbook have also been used successfully for self-study, without the support of a clinician or a group. The workbook provides individuals participating in ...

  24. Christine Olsen, MSW RSW ️Therapist for Men on Instagram: " In other

    15 likes, 2 comments - olsen.psychotherapy on February 12, 2024: " In other words, how do I get rid of my anger issues? You might think: if it's okay to be angry, why is it causing these huge issues in my life? You might be seeing anger issues as: ️Behaving in ways you don't like when angry ️Strong feelings of anger that make you feel out of control ️Frequently getting angry With all ...