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Words to soothe the angry child

The right phrase can make all the difference

Words to soothe the angry child

Speaking to a pre-verbal baby when they’re upset isn’t always effective. The tone of your voice may help, and if you sing, the melody may soothe, but using words to defuse a situation isn’t going to accomplish a lot until they’re at least two or three. When that time comes, making a mindful adjustment to what you say and how you say it can really help. Conversely, saying the wrong thing can, of course, make things much worse.

The folks at have compiled a helpful list (see samples below) of phrases to use on kids, from toddlers to teenagers. “Whether your child has a slow-burning fuse or explodes like a firecracker at the slightest provocation, every child can benefit from anger management skills,” they write. “As parents, we lay the foundation for this skill set by governing our own emotions in the face an angry outburst.”

Yes, there’s that, too: how we, as parents, act and react in stressful, anger-producing situations is crucial. Surely you, like me, have known parents who bemoan their child’s anger management problem, wondering how it got so bad, when the parents themselves have notoriously short fuses. These recommendations from can help prevent that from happening.

READ MORE: Soothing a strong-willed child

Instead of: “Stop throwing things” try: “When you throw your toys, I think you don't like playing with them. Is that what's going on?”

This is non-confrontational. According to “Not only does this keep the lines of communication open, you are modeling how to phrase a situation from your perspective, which in turn gives your child a chance to rephrase events in his (her) perspective.”

Instead of: “Don't be angry” try: “I get angry too sometimes. Let's try our warrior cry to get those angry feelings in check." writes, “A warrior cry can work to release angry energy in a playful manner. Choose a warrior cry or mantra together with your child (think of William Wallace from the movie Brave Heart screaming “Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom!")”

Instead of: “Stop complaining” try: “I hear you. Can you come up with a solution?”

“This places the responsibility back on the child,” writes “Next time your child is complaining non-stop about school/dinner/siblings, ask her to brainstorm solutions. Remind her there are no wrong answers, and the sillier she is, the better.”

We strongly advise you to check out the list in its entirety. Good luck!

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