Managing anger

Having the tools to manage anger allows students to experience more positive interactions with others and more fully participate in learning activities.

Choose the statement below that best describes how this student manages anger.
This will help you identify a starting point for selecting strategies (e.g., 1=specialized, 2=targeted, 3=universal).

  • 1. Temper outbursts interfere with learning one or more times a week and/or pose a safety threat to self and/or others when having temper outbursts
  • 2. Requires interventions several times a month for temper outbursts or "explosions"
  • 3. May require occasional (e.g., less than once a week) reminders to regulate emotions (e.g., responds to verbal cues, such as "stay calm" or "relax")

Universal Supports benefit all students

  • Create an understanding about what anger is through class discussion, examples from literature and brainstorming.
  • Help students use reframing to change their perception of situations they might typically associate with feeling angry.
  • Help students to recognize early warning signs of anger, such as a pounding heart, feeling hot and clenching teeth.
  • Teach anger management strategies that students can use when they begin to feel angry, such as:
    • using positive visualization prior to a difficult activity or situation
    • recognizing stress in their bodies and taking time to calm down
    • using self-talk to calm themselves down (e.g., "I am calm" or counting to 10).
  • Teach, practise and review strategies related to anger management at the beginning of the school year and throughout potentially stressful times of the year (e.g., holidays, exam time).
  • Set up a safe place in the classroom where individual students can go to calm down, think about their choices and, if needed, make a plan before rejoining the group. Post visual reminders of strategies students can use to make a plan, in the safe place.
  • Post visual reminders of strategies for reframing and managing anger. When appropriate, collaborate with students to develop these visual reminders.
  • Teach and reinforce social problem-solving skills.
  • Use descriptive feedback to reinforce individual students when they demonstrate effective strategies for managing anger.

Targeted Supports benefit students with more specific needs

  • Pair individual students with positive peers who can serve as role models and provide support during potential anger-producing situations. Rotate these peers at regular intervals throughout the school year.
  • Provide proximity by positioning yourself nearby individual students who may require support and encouragement during potential anger-producing situations.
  • Intersperse activities in which students experience success with activities that typically cause frustration for them in order to help them to regain control of their frustrations.
  • Work with individual students to develop low-key cues and prompts to alert them to anger-producing situations and/or to remind them to use their anger management strategies.
  • For students with excess physical energy, create multiple opportunities for movement throughout the school day. This will help them release frustration and be more able to recognize and manage anger.
  • Work with individual students to develop low-key cues and prompts to alert them to anger-producing situations and/or to remind them to use their anger management strategies.
  • Work with the student to personalize strategies to help alleviate or reduce anger (e.g., when working with others in a small group situation becomes stressful, limit group work for short, structured tasks only).
  • For students who need structure and reassurance, develop and review social stories for managing typical situations that they may find anger-producing.
  • Practise managing anger through role-playing situations that students identify as causing anger.
  • Develop self-monitoring strategies for students to reflect on and keep track of how they manage anger throughout the school day.
  • Set up a systematic approach to reinforcement for students who are working on recognizing and managing their own anger.

Parents know their children well and can offer insights on how to support their social and emotional well-being. There is strength in collaborating on strategies that could be used at home, at school and in the community.


Specialized Supports benefit the small number of students with sensory, physical, cognitive or behavioural needs that require intensive, individualized interventions

  • Consider time-limited participation for specific activities that trigger intense anger for an individual student. They may benefit from participating in part of the activity and, if possible, gradually increase their participation time throughout the school year.
  • Develop an individual behaviour support plan focused on managing anger that could include reinforcement strategies. Collaborate with the student's family and other community service providers to develop supports and strategies for this student.