What to do with your raging child part 2

by Brenda on


photo credit: mdanys

Yesterday I recommended that you try to hold your child while she rages. Another idea I forgot to mention is that if your child is small enough (about 5 years old or younger),  you can wear her in an Ergo carrier. If she’s screaming because she’s scared, then being close to you just might solve the problem. If holding does not work, here are a few more tricks I have learned:

Pray, out loud.

Prayer works, plain and simple. Better than any of the other techniques I can offer, prayer is how we call on the One who created our child to intervene in their life. He knows their brain. He knows their secrets. He knows their heart. He can call them and tug at their heart-strings in ways that we are incapable. Praying out loud reminds your child that there is Someone more powerful than him (unattached kids are little narcissists, they really do believe that they are, or at least should be, the most amazing super power in the world–a healthy dose of reality can never hurt!).

Read Scripture, out loud.

When my child has gone through days and days of raging, I have been drawn to Scripture more than ever. One day, I felt like God was leading me to sit right outside my child’s bedroom door and read out loud. I was in 1 Peter, and I just read the whole book, sitting there in the hall way. And you know what happened? That child totally calmed down, pulled out their Bible and started reading along. When I asked “how did you know I was reading from 1 Peter?” that child said “I just recognized it.” THAT had me in awe! In moments when it feels like hope is lost, God is working in our kids. Using His word to help them heal is AMAZING!

Have your child jump.

Yup, you heard me. Jump! Get a mini trampoline and have them jump up and down, or have them do some A+ jumping jacks for you. The jumping motion helps their brain switch gears & suddenly the anger subsides…

If that doesn’t work..

Get silly.

Whatever you do (and as tempting as it might be), *do not make fun of your child* or say anything that you’ll regret when your child is acting sane and adorable. ;) Just get silly! When your child is screaming, say something like:

“I can see that you’ve got some pretty loud screams! No problem! Let’s have a contest and see if you’re louder or my music is louder” and then turn on some music & dance! :)


“Let’s see if my vacuum is louder than you” and start vacuuming your carpet.

If you’re silly enough, sometimes an angry child will break out in laughter….Or not! Maybe that doesn’t work with your child….

Go on a walk.

I learned this one from Jeri Fay, who is amazing! When your child starts screaming, tell the kids to get their shoes on, and go on a walk! If the raging child refuses to put shoes on, no problem! Walking barefoot is an option of course (not a desirable one, but if they choose it–well, that’s their prerogative). Bring your keys and your phone, of course (this might be the time you get locked out of your home by a raging child, so just be prepared ;) ). Get silly on your walk. We’ve gone on hunts for all kinds of things, like marsupials and bears. If you have a play structure, tell your raging chid to go down the slide 5 times, or to swing as high as she can. I know it sounds crazy–why would you ask a child who’s throwing a fit to have fun? Because it works. Sometimes, at least. It gets the child out of the funk that she’s in, and helps her move on. And isn’t that the goal?

Get a punching bag, or tell your child to punch a pillow.

Really, they need to be able to get their anger out on something, and this is a safe way to do it. Your child may want to do this in private (it could be embarrassing–but it is really good for them to get it out!), or they may enjoy having a crowd of applauses from their family members. “Hooray! You’re doing it! I’m so proud of you!”…something like that could bring a smile to your child’s face.


Sometimes you just don’t have time to invest into your child’s tantrum.

Let’s say you’re a homeschool mom and you’re trying to teach a math lesson, and your child rages. And she does this every day. But you have 10 other kids to teach (or 2  or 3 ;) ) and you can’t leave the other kids to try every method you can think of to calm down your child. Or you’re baking a cake (grain and sugar free, of course! ;) ) and it’s coming out of the oven in 5 minutes, and you’ve got to be ready for it when the timer goes off….This is where I will caution you (as I constantly caution myself), don’t keep yourself too busy when you have a child who has behavioral issues. Some of us tend to “cope” by busying ourselves with other things in life ;) but that method of coping is not going to heal our children. Maybe lay off on the baking for a while…get a tutor for math…simplify however you can. Of course, be yourself, take breaks, do things that make you feel like you, but try to balance your life so that your child’s healing is a priority…

So let’s say you’ve prioritized your child’s healing as #1 and you’ve tried everything above, but none of these methods seem to work. This is where I have to tell you:

If you have a child who throws major tantrums, you must get a door alarm.

In my opinion & experience, this is not an option. Without a door alarm, the raging child rules the home. Picture this: your child is raging, purposely breaking other kids’ things, hitting siblings, etc., and you’re chasing him around, telling him “stop that,” and “no, don’t do that!” and he’s smirking at you and doing it anyways….It’s maddening. Or imagine this: you bring all of your other kids into the master bedroom or the bathroom and you lock the door behind you–while your raging child is screaming and trying to break down the door. You feel like a prisoner in your own home. Try to have a conversation. Try to even think. It’s impossible! :(

Get an inexpensive, battery powered door alarm and attach it to your child’s bedroom door. Something like this works well. When he or she rages, say, “no problem, I have a safe place for you to get your angries out!” and then bring your child to his room and set the alarm. Your child will test it–once, maybe twice. (Note: if you have a child who does not respect an alarm, check with your local child services & ask if it is ok to lock a raging child in their bedroom for the protection of the rest of the family. Our therapist said that it is legally ok in our area, as long as the child is not sleeping…we haven’t needed to do that though, the alarm has been enough.). Your child will still bang on the door and scream–and rip things and throw them under the door, etc. But at least he is not destroying other people’s property, hurting people, or holding you prisoner in your own home.

While the child rages, continue on with life. Let her know that you have a great family, and you will choose to be happy and have fun, and that you’ll be so happy when she’s strong enough to join you.

Reward your other kids for their good behavior. I’ll post more ideas about how to do this later.

When your child calms down, turn off the alarm and go hold your child! This is when you want to pour your love into your chid and remind him that he’s safe. Have him stand up straight and tall and tell you the things he did wrong, and then have a consequence for the actions (or have him think of a “restitution” to pay you back for using up your time and energy or for breaking your things, etc.). We have found that for a long period of raging, it is tempting to give a child multiple consequences, because they did so many crazy things. “You hit the door, and broke your sister’s toy, and called me stupid, and……” it can go on and on and on. Keep in mind, the child wasn’t acting in his right mind–and too many consequences piled up will only lead to a child who is even more stuck. (They should not be excused from *all* consequences, I just don’t recommend piling them up for every wrong offense…).

I also have to mention here, if the root of your child’s behaviors is *fear*, the best solution, as I mentioned yesterday, is to hold the child. A time in his or her room could be a *set back* for a child who is really, really scared of being alone. You have to pay attention to your own child and see what works best….Just don’t let the rest of your family suffer through daily raging without doing something different…

Word to the Wise: Limit your words with a raging child.

Don’t attempt to reason with a child who is throwing a tantrum. It just doesn’t work. Your child’s responses will drive you crazy, and then the things you’ll want to say will not be fruitful or edifying…Your best bet is to keep your mouth closed.

The words that I try to stick to with my raging kid are:

“Great job getting your angries out!” (Not sarcastically. Truly. I’m happy that my child is getting the yucky stuff out so that healing can happen.)

“It’s ok if you want to slam the door…Or hit it…Or kick the floor…” I give my child permission to do crazy things–which often stops the crazy things from happening….

I’ll continue on with the day with my other kids, and say out loud (so the raging child can hear) “Don’t we have a great family? Oh, we have so much fun! I’m so sorry that _____ isn’t joining us, hopefully soon he’ll pull it together and join in on the fun!”

Other words that may or may not influence a raging child are: “you are safe, and you are loved.” Say that over and over and see what kind of reaction you get…..

Just make sure to stay calm. Remember, if your child is scared, your anger or frustration will only re-emphasize all of the messages that your child is repeating in her own head:

“Nobody loves me…”

“I’m not safe.”

“I have to do things all on my own, because nobody here will really protect me.”

If you blow it, forgive yourself, ask forgiveness of your child, and move on. We all blow it sometimes! Remember, you’re strong enough to handle this child. If not, they wouldn’t be with you. I believe that God orchestrated every little detail of every child coming into our family–from the miraculous stories of our birth children to the amazing, unbelievable stories of our adopted children. You’ve got those stories, too–He did that for you and for your child–He planned it all, and He knew that you’d be the one dealing with these behaviors right now. He knew your strengths, He knew your weaknesses, He knew your child’s strengths and your child’s weaknesses. He knew the “whole package” and He chose to orchestrate it the way He did for a reason. Stay strong, and don’t lose heart if you have an occasional mess-up! Just keep moving forward! You can do this! :)

If you’re exhausted from all of the raging…

If your child is acting like this multiple times per day or even multiple times per week, your family probably needs a break! Call for help! Call Respite! In our area, there are people who are trained in taking care of kids with these kinds of behavior issues. You may or may not have such people in your area. Just make sure that wherever your child goes, it isn’t going to be a *treat*. If they’ve been treating you like poop all week (excuse my language! :) ), then you deserve to have fun, while they have a boring time, knowing that you are having fun. Hopefully next week they’ll start behaving properly and they’ll earn the chance to do something fun, too! :) Have a movie night with the rest of your family, or go on a date, or go out to dinner, or go to a nickel arcade, or something:) Let your kids know that when they behave well, they’ll get to have fun!  :)


I really hope that this has been helpful to you! If you have any other ideas about how to handle a raging child, please share!

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