My 5 Year Old Has Anger Issues

Updated on April 30, 2010
A.M. asks from Saint Albans, WV
18 answers

I have a 5 year old son who is in kindergarten this year and also played football. He has always had a bad temper so i was very scared for him to start school and other activities i have two other children a 3 year old daughter and a 2 year oldson and neither of them have these anger issues. I went in for a parent teacher conference and his teacher told me that she loves him the only thing that she felt like we needed to talk about was how easy he would get mad. She sayd that when it was time to sit down and pay attention and retain things he does GREAT! but when someone does something that he thinks is wrong or things dont go the way he thinks they should he gets very angry. My husband and i do not argue in front of them when we do disagree and i do my best to correct him when he acts that way. He isnt phsycially abusive except for if his sister make him mad he might hit her but not always he normally lashes out verbally. I dont want him on any type of medication but i have to do something does anyone have any advice?

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So What Happened?

i am not nor will iever (unless he is an extreme harm to himself or others) give my child or chidren medications that alter their thinking i wasnt suggesting that i was only wondering if anyone knew some techniques that i could useto help him.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Nashville on

My 5 year old has very similar traits and a 11 year old brother that HE bullies! Whew! My older son is sensitive and thoughtful. Nathan's answer to life is to push as hard as you can till you get what you want. He is not too young to discuss rewards and consequences. In Nathan's class, their behavior chart consists of frogs and when it's in the green, that is good. It goes down from there - yellow, blue, red and the consequences increase with each color. When his frog is in any other color, he has consequences at home - loss privileges - whatever. We discuss what happened and we discuss what should have happened. We encourage him to tell us what he could have done differently. Sometimes, we will do role play to help him actually act out what he should have done and how that behavior would have been rewarded. He gets it. There are also books at the library that illustrate negative behavior and they are great at driving home the point. Make a chart and illustrate that when he chooses not to get angry, "this" will be his reward; if he does act on his anger, "this" will be his consequence. If you are a Christian, "The Heart of Anger" is a good book, but it's heavy and points a lot to the parents. I'm not sure that is your situation. It was not ours, but we were familiar with the book because we use to house parent at a home for troubled boys and that book was part of our training. Another good book that is a bit more gentle is Shepherding a Child's Heart. It helps you minister to his heart and shape it while he's young. Awesome book. Another one that I could not live without is Cynthia Tobias's You Can't Make Me, but I Can be Persuaded. AWESOME, funny and the only parenting book I could not put down. She nails it!!! I have a friend in Florida whose youngest son was just like this and by 3rd grade he was fine and settled. She said not to draw too much attention to it or stress about it. Make all teaching moments calm and stress free for you and him. Make sure he knows that you love him above all the behavior - that he is not a "bad boy", but that his behavior is unacceptable. The role play is huge in helping him see how what he says and does affects others. Get some scripture and reinforce being a good friend. I find that the more time I spend on what is good and acceptable than on what is not, we get better results. Good luck!

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answers from Fayetteville on

Your son sounds a lot like my son at that age. He's 13 now and has slowly gotten out of that behavior. This is what helped us.
First, you need to address the behavior. Watch him and figure out what triggers the lashing out. Talk to the school counselor to see if he/she can recommend a behavioral psychologist. They are wonderful! They can teach you techniques for curbing the behavior. There are charts you can make for him so he can see his progress with stars placed on each day or part of the day when he controlled himself. There are also smiley faces you can draw part by part when you praise him for doing the right things, i.e. playing nicely with sister, helping you, cleaning up his messes.
Although I've never been a fan of medication, I've seen it work first hand. For 3 years we had our son on Adderall because he was diagnosed with ADD. We didn't want to medicate him and tried everything else first.
We took him off of it when we learned about the benefits of Cod Liver Oil. Back in the old days parents would give their children a spoonful daily. Research is proving just how beneficial it is. For one, it does not stunt growth the way Adderall does. It helps with brain functions, so he will be able to concentrate and retain information better (memory). I can go on and on about the benefits, but do the research yourself and find what a wonderful product it is. I recommend softgels if he can swallow pills because the oil itself doesn't taste very good. Also, make sure it is mercury free to prevent other health issues. I take it now and see a difference in my memory. I sincerely hope you find the help you seek and that this info gets you started looking in the right direction. God bless!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

You mentioned he's angry, but didn't say what he does about it. Help him understand how he feels... "Wow, it looks like Nathan taking that toy from you really made you mad!" Let him vent it out and talk about it. Don't try to supress his emotions. If he's acting out inappropriately, then tell him "It's OK to be angry, but it's not OK to (hit/whatever)" and give him an appropriate consequence. With boys, we often tell them their emotions are wrong or that they shouldn't feel that way. Better is to try to allow them to feel it and express it appropriately... boys especially will explode for a few moments and rebound quickly. Once they vent, the heated emotion is let out and he can get back to his day without letting it build.

My son was very intense when things didn't go his way- still is at 11, but behaves better about it. By the way, he's a first-born too! He is ADHD (we didn't know at the time) and his behavior was challenging- he was impulsive and acted first on his anger and regretted later. Medication helped with that as well as a good diet, but he still has to internally count to 10 to cool off. Make sure your son gets lots of exercise to exhaust a little of the extra energy.

Good book with good advice: The Wonder of Boys. Unbelievable book for having more than one child (I have four) is Siblings Without Rivalry. I could tell you some stories of using their techniques to help my boys settle INTENSE arguments... I wish I had it on videotape!

You might be suprised that, if directed well, his intensity can really be a benefit in later life! Change the anger to a healthy competitiveness and he will make you very proud! Good luck!

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answers from Charlotte on

Hi A.,

It's great that you're going to parent-teacher conferences and looking for advice, but please don't jump to the conclusions that he needs medications or the labels that go with them! In case you're unfamiliar, there have been tons of studies done showing the harmful effects of medications in children (and adults), but the pharmaceutical companies (and insurance companies and hmo's) have huge lobbies (=power), so you mostly hear what a "miracle" medications are. imho, the FDA often turns a blind eye to all of the horror stories.

*After* you've unturned every other stone, and if things have gotten worse as he gets older, then you may have to consider medication.

Was he enrolled in preschool or daycare before now? He's still young - ktg is a huge transition for some. Some children are "mid-year" bloomers - it takes them half the school-year to adapt each year! Ask most experienced elementary teachers - they'll have seen this.

Has the school social worker been involved? If not, you can ask to meet with him or her. Often, they will give small groups for anger mgt/social skills. Something like that may be very helpful for your son and others like him. (Sometimes you have to be proactive, and ask your school to get things started that will help your son. He has a right to an education that suits his individual needs, both informally, and if that doesn't get you anywhere, there is a formal process for it. You can Google "IEP" or "IDEA act" to read about it. If need be, the school can do a full evaluation at no cost to you.)

If not a group, the social worker could meet with him individually to work on anger issues that will probably involve play-therapy-type things. S/he should also be able to give you community resources that may help. If it were me, I'd read and learn like you are, involve the social workers/teachers/other adults in his life, and work with him informally on reducing his frustration levels.

(You said he isn't physically aggressive. I'm not implying that anger isn't an important issue, rather, that you would probably already be involved with therapy or something if it was "really" bad.)

If those types of things don't work (or if you just want the reassurance of a "professional"), then you can proceed to other things like therapy or IEP's. You know him best. Keep in close contact with his teacher/school, (If they do email, that's a great week to keep a record of conversations - and having a written record of phone calls/conversations could be hugely important in the future.) If you can, volunteer in the classroom, or at least eat lunch with him sometimes so you can get a feel for what's going on at school. If you are able, look at his school as if you are all "part of a team" (most schools encourage this), working together to best help your son.

What does he tell you about his anger? My son has always had similar issues. At that age, he had trouble telling me why he was angry (other than that his dad had left, as if that weren't enough!), but he would say his anger scared him. He needed to be held a lot. And he needed to get out his frustrations through safe physical means. I gave him sticks of wood to hit trees with, boxes of cheap pencils to break, big phone books to tear to shreds, art supplies to draw with, clay to pound. Those are just some things that worked for and your son will find what works best for him. If you can do it as a family, so much the better, because his behavior is most likely affecting his siblings. They often seem to take the brunt of angry brothers.

You mentioned football, and I wondered why. 5 is so young for football! But then, I'm clueless about sports - maybe it's a non-contact version? Do you find it helps him to burn off energy and increases his social skills, or is it stressing him out and reducing his frustration levels? Just something to think about.

Sorry this is so long........guess it's an issue near and dear to my heart. Keep writing to will most likely be a "journey" and not a "quick fix". Best wishes to you all!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Johnson City on

my grand son is just like your son ,he has ADHD and border line bipolar ,the doctors put him on meds to control hjs temper ,he has a 8 and 13 year old siblings .he has tried ti hurt them more than once .that is the reason his mother took him to get checked ,it took several visits before he was dignosed with this problem,.have your child checkred has soon as possible to make sure



answers from Raleigh on

When I was a kid (oldest of 4) I did some of the worst things ever to my siblings! The anger usually because of loss of control.. felt like serious rage coming out. After teaching for 5 years, I really think the best thing is, draw him away from the situation, talk talk talk... even though he may be yelling. At least let him express what is bothering him. For him to get so angry, it means he has built up agression/anger. He needs to have a major intervention before it gets worse b/c hitting at school looks to be the next thing. I would seriously think about some yoga for him. It may sounds crazy if you know nothing about it, but teaching the deep breathing can really make a difference. I know someone that is very good too, and she could relate it to school time, let me know if you want her info.

For starting out, talk with him (when he is not upset) about what he feels like when this is coming on... hot face, heart pounding, clenched teeth, etc. Then talk about when he notices his body changing, to do one of two strategies... and decide on two like, breathing, couting down from 10 then saying what you mean, say a tiny prayer... like Jesus help me, Jesus help me, or get up immediatly and get a drink calm down in the hallway and come back. Obviously you will want to talk with the teacher about what strategies you all agree on. But he needs something in place that the adults can remind him of. Like when the adults see it, they may say "Oh are you starting to feel hot in the face?" Okay why don't you go get your drink and do your deep breathing then come back.

Good luck with his success,



answers from Lexington on

I have a similar problem, my 5 year old verbally lashes out at home instead of school, it seems the busier I am, the more he does it, his is an attention getter, I think. I am reading 'The Strongwilled Child' right now and it is helping me alot. I don't have any advise to give, just letting you know I hear you and I feel for you. My friend has a little girl similar to your little boy, someone told her, she is a leader, not a follower and though her personality will make her younger years hard, when she is older it will become very benificial to her.



answers from Raleigh on

My son is 5 too and we are having some of this problems. Most days go really well, but yesterday was and example of horrendous. Dad was home and handled most of it. I don't know if it is just a boy at 5 or something else. We try to explain that the behavior is unacceptable; that other kids won't want to play with him if he acts like that; that it makes Mom and Dad sad; use your words instead of yelling/hitting sister, etc. Most times he is "angry" is when we ask him to do something that is not what he wants to do; i.e. come inside, clean up his toys, etc. I know that is probably no help, but I'm interested to see how others respond.




answers from Raleigh on

My daughter also started Kindergarten this year, and we noticed not only anger issues, but behavioral issues in class, as well. We have tried a new diet for her, which cuts out many preservatives, dyes and a certain chemical called salicylates. I also didn't want to do meds, so I thought that if I could affect a change just w/her diet, I figured it was worth a try. She's done very well, and she's been on the diet for about 4 weeks, three of which she had "green" days @ school. Check out the website:

Good luck!



answers from Nashville on

Call your local Child Advocacy Center and ask for the names of the three best children's therapists in town. Go visit each one without your son and decide which one will be the best fit for your child. Often children are angry for a good reason. You want to get to the root of the problem and solve this problem. Angry children grow up to be angry teenagers who grow up to be angry adults. Good luck with your son!



answers from Nashville on

I would take him out of football and put him in karate for the discipline. I would also stay as calm as possible when he acts up but take him by the hand and walk him straight to timeout. Don't speak other than, "do you know why you are in time out?" then he stays 5 mins and when he is finished, he is to apoligize to his sister or whoever he has hurt. If you do this enough times, it should work. If not, you may want to talk to his doc. He may not be able to control it.



answers from Wheeling on

Maybe he NEEDS to hear you argue, if you can resolve conflict constructively (and NOT 'destructively'). My parents never argued in front of us (now 51-63 yrs old and Mom and Dad are in heaven), and none of us are good at resolving conflict. I think it's healthy for kids to see HEALTHY conflict resolution. If kids never see any contention exhibited or diaplayed (and consequently 'ironed out'), how are they supposed to learn how to deal with their OWN conflicts?

That said, it sounds as if he's more 'frustrated' about something that he doesn't know how to express (or why he feels that way) than 'angry', per se. I'd talk with a psychologist/counselor (alone, first), then decide if s/he might help your child learn to EXPRESS his frustrations more appropriately and accurately (or refer you to someone else who could). He's old enough to be able to learn to correctly analyze and express his negative feelings.



answers from Missoula on

I have the same problem with my son and do not know what to do we have tried so many different things but nothing has worked so far it is very frustrating because i want him to excell in school but his behavior is lacking.



answers from Nashville on

Well, even though I think that I am different from my mother, she is a witch and my children inhereted some of her genes. Sometimes they aren't very nice kids either (becuase of my witchy mother's genes). You may just have a "bad" gene in your family like I did.
Now I have heard that sometimes anger can come from something kind of like an allergic reaction from a food and that some types of food can cause outbursts such as this. I don't know a lot about it and don't how to find out except keep searching the internet. For example: doesn't the red dye in foods cause something in children like hyperactivity or something to that affect? Check out things like that and maybe change his diet - no sugar, no processed meats, lots of vegetables and try to get alot of raw veggies in him.... things like that.
Good luck, I can tell this is weighing on you.



answers from Jacksonville on

We are all born with personalities, and the environment we grow up in can have a huge impact on that, but it sounds like it is his personality. However, it is certainly unacceptable and will only cause him many problems later in life, and the earlier you help him to get under control the better off he will be. The best parenting author I have ever come across is John Rosemond. He is easy and interesting to read (without being too long and boring). When my older son was about 4 I started worrying that maybe he was a little violent (with an older cousin they played so rough with a duck that they killed it). So I read Raising a Nonviolent Child, by John Rosemond. It was so eye opening, and had so much good information, about raising children in general, but also about what sort of things (in his opinion) led to what happened at Columbine High School and such. You won't hear it from anyone else, either. His website is He has a number of books, although for some reason I don't think I've seen that one on there, but it is on His weekly newspaper article is on there as well, which is always excellent. I've also recently started reading one of Michael Gurian's books, The Good Son. He has a lot of interesting things to say, but it is very long and kind of puts me to sleep. There might be behavior modification techniques you could learn and teach to him to help him control his outbursts. But I tend to agree with John Rosemond that we can control ourselves and need to do it. With a child, that comes from consequences undesirable enough to convince them to change their behavior (take away whatever is most important to him, for example, until he earns it back). Another excellent book is John Rosemond's Six Point Plan for Raising Happy Healthy Children. Anyway, best of luck to you. This is definitely not something to medicate, as you know. We all have issues to overcome, and part of life is learning to overcome them, not take a pill that is going to mess us up in the long run.



answers from Memphis on

Check out the book "The Heart of Anger" by Lou Priolo. Excellent resource!



answers from Charlotte on

I would try a therapist who specializes in preschool children before I would jump to medications. He probably had difficulty expressing himself and then gets frustrated. It's likely he just needs to learn some coping skills and this is the time! If you don't want a psychologist, then I would try an occupational therapist to work on his social skills/coping skills.


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