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What to Do about Your Child’s Angry Outbursts

What to Do about Your Child’s Angry Outbursts


What to Do about Your Child’s Angry Outbursts


All people get angry, even children. For young children, acting out may be a reaction to a confusing situation or feeling. As they grow older and understand more about their emotions, what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and how to manage their feelings, these outbursts usually occur less often.

However, if your child has frequent, unjustified, and intense outbursts of anger, or if they come with other alarming, red-flag symptoms, consider seeing a therapist for evaluation. Disciplining your child could be effective if it is a behavioral issue. If your child has another emotional condition or there are other issues in your family, addressing your child’s frequent explosive or hostile meltdowns may require the assistance of a professional therapist.

Knowing the symptoms can help you decide when to see a therapist. If your child has an emotional or behavioral condition, early intervention is critical to give them the chance to develop normally and enjoy their childhood.


Your Child’s Anger as a Symptom of an Emotional Condition

Your child’s anger may be a symptom of a more serious problem, and that deserves your undivided attention. Frequent and intense outbursts can have damaging effects on your child’s emotional health and your family relationships. You must consider that this may not just be a behavioral issue, but an emotional one. This can mean that your usual parenting techniques may not work with this child.

Knowing what triggers your child’s intense, explosive, or hostile anger is important. Underneath your child’s anger could be an emotional condition—depression, anxiety, oppositional defiance disorder, bipolar disorder, etc. It could also be a response to an anger culture in the family, sibling rivalry, or parental conflicts.

Emotional conditions in children can be masked in many ways, so that it isn’t easy to tell the underlying cause of your child’s anger. The thing to do is to note the other symptoms and make the brave decision to take action, such as seeing a therapist. Only a trained and experienced, licensed mental health professional can assess your child’s symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis and a treatment program.


Is There a Reason to Worry? The Hallmark Symptoms

If your child is constantly having outbursts, you likely want to know if this is a normal passing phase or if it needs professional attention. It is true that all children have meltdowns or tantrums at some point. However, if they are happening too often or continue past school age (seven or eight years old), you may have reason to worry.

Depression can make your child very sad and cause them to avoid social interactions. Anxiety may masquerade as irritability and anger while exhibiting excessive fear or refusing to separate from you or do things repeatedly. ODD can make your child defiant, touchy, and easily provoked to anger. Bipolar disorder is characterized by unwarranted mood swings, shifting from depressive to manic behaviors. According to Dimitri and Janice Papolos of The Bipolar Child, “the rages of children with bipolar disorder are more intense and lengthy.”

It is a smart and loving decision to seek help from a therapist as early as possible for proper diagnosis and intervention. An emotional condition can place your child at a great disadvantage in life when it goes diagnosed and untreated.


Tracing the Roots: Anger in the Family

Anger may be so deeply entrenched in your family that it takes root and becomes almost like a “culture.” Anger can be a powerful emotion that’s difficult to control, and outbursts may not necessarily obliterate the love that binds a family, but they can damage relationships. Young children, who usually employ anger and outbursts as a response to anything they don’t understand, may learn to do so too often and for the flimsiest reasons.

If the consultation with a therapist reveals that part of the reason for your child’s outbursts is this kind of “anger culture” in the family, be ready to accept the assessment of symptoms and the diagnosis. Denial can’t help, but family counseling can. If your family has a genetic predisposition to an emotional condition like depression or anxiety, seeking professional counseling for the affected members can also help a lot.

Raising a child who is always angry can be extremely challenging. Your parenting techniques may not be able to elicit the usual response that you expect. You and the rest of the family can help your child and each other better if you are better informed about your child’s condition or issues. Family therapy is an option and can always help.


The Healing Decision

Because determining the cause of your child’s outbursts may not be easy for you, it is best to seek professional help. A good first step is to call Carolina Counseling — Pittsboro, NC, and talk to an independently contracted therapist who can assess your child’s outbursts and other symptoms for proper diagnosis and treatment. Symptoms of an undiagnosed emotional condition can leave children unhappy, fearful, and isolated, and make it hard for them to live up to their potential.

If circumstances in the family are contributing to your child’s outbursts, this isn’t the time for insisting on one parenting technique, blaming one another, or wallowing in guilt. You need calm parenting to help your child and to resolve your family issues. Working together as a family is productive. A therapist contracted with Carolina Counseling — Pittsboro, NC, can help you all resolve your concerns and strengthen your relationships.

Look forward. Whether the outbursts are emotionally or behaviorally triggered, therapy can help. Bring in professional help from a licensed therapist, independently contracted with CCS. There are realistic solutions to address your child’s outbursts, and there are numerous ways to implement them with the support of everyone in the family. This is the time for healing to support your angry child.


Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC

Counties: Chatham, Alamance, Durham, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Orange, Randolph, Wake, NC
Areas: Pittsboro NC, Gulf NC, Hickory Mountain NC, Hadley NC, Siler City NC, Wilsonville NC, Fearrington NC, Mandale NC, Bear Creek NC, Albright NC
Zip Codes: 27312, 27344, 27207, 27228, 27256, 27559


Gail Gustafson, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 9+) Adolescents and Adults, Individuals, Couples and Families. PTSD/Trauma, EMDR, Adoption, Drug/Alcohol/Substance Abuse addiction, Anxiety, Depression, Bi-polar, Life Transitions, Grief and Loss, Parenting, Family, couples and marriage counseling.
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare/ Tricare Prime Tricare Select/Extra/Retired and Cash (Credit Cards Accepted, HSA and FSA )
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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