How to Treat Anger Issues in Kids

Anger can indicate an underlying concern

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It’s entirely normal for kids to throw tantrums, especially before age 6. However, frequent tantrums, which last more than 10 minutes or involve violence, can signify anger issues in kids. Anger can be linked to many experiences and conditions, from trauma to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Certain types of psychotherapy for kids along with parent management techniques for adults can help the entire family develop more effective coping methods. 

Continue reading to learn more about anger management in kids, its causes, and other conditions that can contribute to anger issues. 

time out - child discipline - boy angry sitting on chair

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Causes of Anger Issues in Kids

If your child’s anger is affecting your home life as a family, their ability to make friends, or how they function in school, it may be cause for concern. The following are common disorders associated with anger issues in children:

  • Oppositional defiant disorder: Children with this disorder have an angry/irritable mood and may intentionally irritate or annoy others, refuse to follow the rules laid out by parents or schoolteachers, and blame others for their trouble. 
  • Conduct disorder: Kids with conduct disorder may threaten or hurt people, animals, and personal property. They also may run away or break the rules, including the law. 
  • Intermittent explosive disorder: Two or more behavioral outbursts per week for three months or longer may be a sign of intermittent explosive disorder in children.
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD): DMDD is characterized by recurrent temper outbursts and a constant irritable and angry mood.

Anger issues in children can have many different root causes. Usually, frustration and distress are at the core of anger issues in kids. That distress can be caused by medical or mental health issues, including:

Symptoms of Anger Issues in Kids

While tantrums are a normal part of development in children, extreme tantrums may be a sign of an underlying mental health issue. Most kids grow out of tantrums between the ages of 4 and 6. If your child continues to have tantrums after that, it can be a sign of anger issues.

In children younger than 6, prolonged tantrums lasting longer than 10 minutes can be a sign of anger issues. Children who routinely hurt themselves or others or destroy property should have a professional mental health evaluation.


If you suspect your child has anger issues, you should contact their pediatrician. If you have a school-age child, you should also talk to their teachers or school counselor. A pediatrician can all refer your child for a psychological evaluation. This might sound scary, but it will help you understand what’s going on with your child and get them the help they need. 

A trained child psychiatrist or child psychologist will examine your child. They’ll interact with your child directly and gather information from other parents, counselors, teachers, and law enforcement. 

The psychological evaluation could reveal other diagnoses, like ADHD or autism spectrum disorder, that explain your child’s outbursts. The more information you have, the better equipped you are to help your child. 

Managing Anger Issues in Kids

Once you find out what’s causing your child’s anger issues, you can manage them. This involves treating the underlying issues. This might include medication in some cases, such as for kids with OCD or ADHD. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often helpful for kids with anger issues, no matter what other diagnosis they have. CBT helps them understand their patterns and regulate their emotions—all in a very child-friendly manner.

Regardless of the root cause, behavioral changes for both the child and parents can help. Parent management techniques (PMT) teach parents how to handle their child’s behavior more productively. It’s focused on positive reinforcement rather than punishment. In addition to PMT, working with a family therapist to develop new communication and conflict resolution techniques can benefit the whole family. 

Quick Tips

Addressing anger issues in kids often isn’t a quick fix. However, there are some simple steps you can keep in mind that might help minimize outbursts:

  • Be consistent: This includes consistency with your expectations and routines. 
  • Don’t give in: Keep consistent with consequences so that a child learns that an outburst will not result in the child getting their own way. 
  • Avoid triggers: If you know that getting ready for bed or turning off the television triggers your child, prepare with ample warnings and a consistent routine. 
  • Stay calm: No matter how angry your child is, provide a calming presence. Don’t try to interact with them while they’re having a tantrum. Instead, wait until things have calmed down to talk. 
  • Praise good behaviors: Make a big deal out of good behaviors, like going to bed without an outburst. On the other hand, ignore undesirable behaviors. 


When a child’s outbursts interrupt your family's daily life, it can be a sign of an anger issue. Often, frustration and distress are the cause of anger issues. These can be caused by trauma, family dysfunction, or conditions like ADHD or OCD.

If you believe your child has anger issues, talk to your school counselor or pediatrician. Request a psychological evaluation, which can help diagnose the underlying cause of your child’s anger. Then, create a treatment plan with your child’s pediatrician, behavioral specialists, and therapists. This may include therapy for both the child and the parents. 

A Word From Verywell

Dealing with anger issues in kids can be frightening. You may be concerned about your child getting into trouble with the law, hurting themselves, or hurting someone else. Getting treatment early on can help you and your child better control their behaviors and minimize the risk of serious consequences in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I help my child with anger issues?

    The first step is to take your child for a psychological or psychiatric evaluation. This can help tease out any underlying issues like ADHD or trauma. After that, connect with a child and family therapist who has experience with anger issues in kids.

  • Why is my child so angry and aggressive?

    Anger and aggression in children are often caused by unaddressed frustration or distress. Trauma, learning disabilities, or sensory processing issues can all make children act out in anger or aggression. Working with a child psychologist or psychiatrist can identify what’s causing your child’s anger issues and how to address them.

  • Is aggression a symptom of ADHD?

    Low frustration tolerance and irritability are some of the signs and symptoms of ADHD. If your child is aggressive or you believe they may have ADHD, talk with a mental health professional. Getting a diagnosis can help your child access the treatment they need, including medication if you and the doctor decide that’s right for them.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Yale Medicine. Anger, irritability, and agitation in kids

  2. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Disruptive disorders in children.

  3. Child Mind Institute. Is my child’s anger normal?

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms and diagnosis of ADHD.

By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.