Parenting 101: How To Respond To Angry, Fussy Children

Written by Dr. Dovbakh Olga Dmitrivna on Tue, 21 November 2023

Key Highlights

  • Children have little experience in managing anger.
  • Fussy children become uneasy in unknown environments.
  • Visual feelings charts can help kids identify their feelings.
  • Simple mindfulness for kids can be observing the clouds move.

Parenting is a rewarding journey filled with moments of joy, but it also comes with challenges, and one of the most common challenges is dealing with an angry or fussy child.

Children, just like adults, experience a wide range of emotions, and sometimes, they may express their frustration, anger, or fussiness in ways that leave parents feeling unsure of how to respond.

In this blog, we will explore effective fun-filled strategies for responding to angry and fussy children, helping them manage their emotions and promoting a more peaceful and harmonious family environment.

Understanding anger and fussiness in children

Understanding anger and fussiness in children

Children may become frustrated when they want something they cannot have, when they want to do something they cannot do, or when they simply feel bad and do not know how to feel better.

Frustration has the potential to turn into anger. Young children especially, have little experience managing intense emotions like anger. They might scream and sob. They may even kick the ground or throw objects. This action is frequently called a tantrum.

Understanding the underlying causes of anger and fussiness in children is vital for effective parenting. It is important to identify triggers and address them to promote emotional well-being and healthy child development.

1. Developmental factors

Developmental factors significantly influence anger and fussiness in children. The two key concepts of development that make up social-emotional development are the maturation of the self, or temperament, and the maturation of interpersonal relationships, or attachment.

The child's attitude toward the world and how he interacts with his environment is determined by his temperament, which is an innate quality. Parental attachment to the child is the first step in the child's social-emotional development. For attachment to be established and the skill set that follows, the caregiver's sensitive and accessible supportive role is essential.

Children who are fussy, disobey rules, are uneasy in unfamiliar settings and with unfamiliar people, have strong feelings, and are easily agitated.

2. Emotional triggers

Emotional triggers have a profound impact on the anger and fussiness experienced by children. Whether it's a change in routine, fatigue, hunger, or feeling overwhelmed, understanding and addressing these triggers is crucial in supporting their emotional well-being and promoting a harmonious environment.

3. Environmental influences

Environmental influences can significantly contribute to the anger and fussiness displayed by children. Factors such as noise, disruptions in routine, lack of stimulation or over-stimulation, and exposure to stress can disrupt their emotional equilibrium, emphasizing the importance of providing a calm and nurturing environment.

Recognizing the distinction between normal emotional expression and problematic behaviour in children is essential for effective parenting. Understanding age-appropriate reactions, considering context, and observing persistent patterns can help differentiate typical emotional ups and downs from potential underlying issues.

Strategies for responding to angry and fussy children

Strategies for responding to angry and fussy children

Unlock the power of effective strategies and discover how you can skillfully respond to your angry and fussy children, transforming challenging moments into opportunities for growth, understanding, and harmony.

1. Managing anger and frustration

By modelling healthy expressions of emotions and providing guidance, parents can empower children to manage anger and frustration in constructive ways. As parents, you can use mealtimes and bedtime rituals as opportunities to talk with your kids about their days. Discuss happy moments, frustrating moments, and work that made you proud of yourself that happened during the day.

Ask children to guess the emotions of the story's characters as you read them stories. What clues are there for kids to pick up on the character's emotions? Can the children express that emotion with their faces? These activities can help your children subtly learn to manage anger and frustration.

2. Encouraging communication and active listening

By encouraging open communication and practising active listening, parents can foster a safe and supportive environment for their children to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs. Giving full attention to your child, making eye contact, and bending down to your child’s level are great ways to practice active listening.

To encourage communication, pay attention to what your child is saying to you every time they try to tell you something, set aside some time each day, to talk and play with your cold, and praise your children for good behaviour.

3. Teaching problem-solving and conflict resolution

Teaching children practical conflict-management techniques will aid them in resolving any disputes, no matter how small or significant. Parents can use visual feelings charts, showing facial expressions that illustrate different emotions, to help kids identify what they are feeling.

For young children, a visual red, yellow, and green stoplight is especially useful. The emotion thermometer can also be used. Simply a picture of a thermometer with numbers makes up the emotion thermometer. Kids can use the emotion thermometer to gauge where they are on it when conflicts arise. The child can determine whether they need to calm down before continuing based on the number.

Role of a calm and supportive environment

Establishing consistent routines and clear boundaries provides children with a sense of stability, helping them manage their anger and frustration effectively. Creating a safe and soothing space allows children to find solace and effectively manage their anger and frustration.

1. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Utilizing relaxation techniques and mindfulness exercises can empower children to effectively manage and regulate their anger and frustration, promoting emotional well-being and resilience. Sometimes being mindful is as simple as observing the clouds move across the sky or the snowfall to the ground.

Parental stress management

Further, by effectively managing parental stress and emotions, parents can create a calm and supportive environment, which in turn helps children manage their own anger more effectively. Seeking support from family and friends and going for professional help when things are beyond your control can also help to manage anger and fussiness in children.


Anger and fussiness are common in children especially when things don’t go their way. There could be various factors influencing this type of behaviour in kids. Understanding the reasons for this behaviour and implementing strategies to manage it can help your child overcome anger and fussiness.

Dealing with angry or fussy children can be challenging, but it's a normal part of parenting. By responding with empathy, patience, and understanding, you can help your child learn how to manage their emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms. 

Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Stay adaptable and open to trying different strategies until you find what works best for your child. In doing so, you can create a more harmonious and supportive environment for them to grow and thrive.

Teaching children healthy expression of emotions, communicating effectively with them, actively listening to them, teaching them problem-solving skills, and providing a safe and supportive environment are essential to help children manage anger and fussiness. Try these strategies to see the difference yourself!

Frequently Asked Questions

Children experience anger and fussiness as a natural response to frustration, disappointment, or unmet needs. These emotions are part of their emotional development. 

To help your child calm down, you can offer comfort, validate their feelings, use empathetic listening, and teach calming techniques like deep breathing or counting to ten. 

Common mistakes to avoid include reacting with anger, using punitive measures, not validating their feelings, and not providing a safe space for them to calm down. 

Yes, tantrums are a normal part of childhood development. However, if they are severe, persistent, or significantly disrupt your child's daily life, it's advisable to seek professional help from a child psychologist or counselor. 

Teaching children emotional regulation leads to increased self-awareness, healthier relationships, and better coping skills, which are valuable throughout their lives. It also fosters emotional well-being and resilience. 


Dr. Dovbakh Olga Dmitrivna

Dr. Dovbakh Olga Dmitrivna is a Clinical Psychologist based out of Ukraine. She graduated from the Bukovinian State Medical University, Ukraine back in 2009. Driven by a thirst of knowledge and with a keen interest in matters of the mind, Dr. Dovbakh Olga Dmitrivna went back to University in 2021 to specialise in psychiatry.

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  2. Mothers’ and Fathers’ Responses to Children’s Negative Emotions: Family and Physiological Correlates
  3. Shokoohi–Yekta M, et al. Teaching problem-solving for parents: Effects on children's misbehavior. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2011 Jan 1;30:163-6.
  4. Flook L, et al. Effects of mindful awareness practices on executive functions in elementary school children. Journal of applied school psychology. 2010 Feb 17. 

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Current Version

Nov, 21 2023

Written By

Dr. Dovbakh Olga Dmitrivna