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Tips for dealing with anger – for 11-18 year olds

Tips and ideas for young people on how to cope when you feel angry.

Ways to cope with anger

It might feel difficult when you're experiencing anger, but there are things you can do to improve the way you feel.

We're all different, so something that works for someone else might not work as well for you. You might have to try a few tips to see what works best.

This page has tips and ideas to help you at different times. 

Understanding anger

Before reading our tips, you might want to learn more about what anger means and what it feels like.


Learning something new takes time and practice. And because we can react very quickly when we're angry, some of these techniques could be difficult to do at first.

Try to be patient and remember small changes can make a big difference

Tips for managing anger in the moment

It can be really scary when your anger takes over or you lose control in a situation. But you can learn safer, more healthy ways to manage your anger in the moment.

Here are our top tips:

Spot the signs

When you start getting angry, your brain releases adrenaline through your body. You might start to feel:

  • Your muscles tensing up
  • Your heart beating faster
  • You're shaking or sweating

Recognising these warning signs can give you a chance to think about how you want to react to the situation.

The earlier you notice how you're feeling, the easier it can be to choose how to manage your anger.

Take time out

Getting away from the situation, even for a few seconds, can help you work out how you're feeling and how you want to react. You could try:

  • Taking a couple of deep breaths
  • Counting to 10
  • Going for a quick walk
  • Asking if you can deal with it later

I try to get out of the space I'm in.

Speak to someone

If you can, talk to a friend or family member who you trust, and who has nothing to do with why you're feeling angry. Talk them through how you're feeling and ask them what you should do.

If you'd prefer to speak to someone you don't know, you could contact Childline or The Mix for a confidential chat with a counsellor.

For other organisations that can help, go to our useful contacts page.

Try mindfulness

This is about breathing slowly, relaxing your body, and taking some time to allow your mind to clear. You could try:

  • A breathing exercise to help you calm down. Try breathing in through your nose for 4 counts, holding it for 2 counts, and breathing out through your mouth for 7 counts. If you can repeat this, it will help slow your breath and keep you calm.
  • A ‘grounding’ activity to bring your thoughts back under control. Relax your body as much as you can and focus on where you are. Try to name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.

Distract yourself

Do something that distracts you from your anger for a while. This could be:

  • Listening to music and dancing
  • Watching an episode of your favourite show
  • Meeting up with a friend
  • Playing an instrument
  • Writing or journaling
  • Drawing
  • Playing a game or exercising

To get rid of your angry energy in a safe way, you could try:

  • Punching a pillow
  • Popping bubble wrap
  • Scribbling on paper
  • Smashing ice cubes
  • Running or other exercise

Tips for coping with anger at school or college

School and college can be really stressful.

Here are some things you can try if you're feeling angry when you're there:

  • Tune into how your body is feeling. If your shoulders are hunched up or you're gritting your teeth, relaxing those muscles can help you to feel calmer.
  • Take a deep breath. Or try counting backwards from 10, before you say or do anything.
  • Explain how you're feeling. You could use a phrase like ‘I'm feeling angry because…’, ‘I'm angry and need to take a break because...’.
  • Use your breaks to zone out. Knowing there's a quiet room or safe space where you can go at break times may help you to deal with your anger. If you're not sure what's available, speak to a teacher you trust.
  • Talk to your teachers. Let them know how you're feeling as soon as you can. This will help them to support you in the moment. When you're feeling calmer, try to explain what you're experiencing and how they can help you in the future.
  • Separate yourself from people that make you angry in class. You could do this by asking a teacher if you can change seats, or sitting somewhere else if that's allowed.

Sometimes if you're angry at school you might not be able to leave and take a breather, like at home.

Tips for dealing with arguments 

Arguments with friends and family are difficult to deal with. But they can be even harder if you feel angry or frustrated.

Here are our top tips on how to deal with them:

  • Think about what you want to say before you say it. Try saying your next sentence in your head before you say it out loud.
  • Take a deep breath before you answer. This might be enough to let your thoughts settle and make a choice about how you want to react.
  • Listen to their point of view. This will help you understand why they feel that way, and it will give you time to think about how you respond to them.
  • Apologise for being angry. Don't use it as an excuse for your behaviour, but try to explain it's something you're working on.
  • Think about what you're feeling. Are you angry at the person you're speaking to, or is it about something else?
  • Think about the consequences of your behaviour. Will this affect your relationship with someone? Will this upset someone? Will this get you into trouble?
  • Think about whether you’ll care about this in 6 months' time. If the answer is no, it's probably not worth it.
  • Leave the situation. Can you come back to the conversation when you’re feeling calmer?

Helping friends or partners with anger

If you're supporting your friend or your partner with their anger, we have another guide that might help.

Tips for anger online or over messenger

If you're struggling to deal with a conversation on social media or a messenger app, you could try to:

  • Think about who you're messaging, and who will see it. 
  • Ask a friend to look over the posts for you – they could see if your reaction is okay, or help you find a better way to respond.
  • Ask yourself ‘am I angry enough to say something I might regret later?’ – if the answer is ‘yes’, don't post or message anything.
  • Take a break and come back to it later – can it wait for half an hour, or until tomorrow? Give yourself time to think about if you want to reply, and what you should say.

It's very easy to get frustrated during disagreements, and get angry which won't help to resolve the issue at hand, and could even cause it to escalate.

Tips for managing anger in the long term

When you're feeling calm, spend some time thinking about how you want to manage your anger in the future.
You could try to:

Recognise your triggers

You could try to keep a mood diary or journal to make notes about what happens when you feel angry. Try to record:

  • The day or date and time
  • The situation or where you were
  • What made you angry?
  • How did you feel?
  • How did you react?
  • How did you feel afterwards?
  • How do you think others felt?
  • What could you have done differently?

Over a couple of months, you might start to notice a pattern. You can then identify safer and more positive ways to manage your anger in triggering situations.

Gaining an understanding of my triggers really helped me manage my anger.

Understand your feelings

You may not always find it easy to recognise how a situation makes you feel. You might feel something you don't understand, or something you haven't felt before. And this can be really scary.

You could use an emotions wheel to help you name any feelings that are hard to pinpoint. This could help you understand why you react a certain way and help you talk to others about how you feel.

For more information, see our page on understanding your feelings.

Listen to others

Other people might recognise things you do or say as signs that you're getting angry or wound up, even if you don't.

Listening to them may help you learn more about your warning signs and triggers. In time, this can help you understand your anger, and develop safer ways to deal with it.

Think about the consequences

When you get angry, it can be helpful to ask yourself:

  • Will this help me get what I want?
  • How will this affect me and the people around me?
  • Is it worth getting angry?
  • Will I regret this afterwards?

You could do this before you catch yourself acting on your anger. Or you could do this when you're feeling calm, so you have something to remember in the future.

Accept what's out of your control

Some things that make you angry might be in your control, like choosing whether to fix a mistake or react to criticism. But you will have less or no control over other things. For example, lockdown rules changing, being on the waiting list for a mental health service or your parents splitting up.

All these things can be really hard to deal with. And because they're out of your control, you can't change them. Instead, you have to focus on how you deal with them.

To help you feel in control:

  • Make a list of everything that's making you angry
  • Note down what's in your control
  • Note down what's out of your control

For the things in your control, make a plan on how you're going to deal with them. For the things that are out of your control, think about using some of our quick tips to safely express your anger.

Look after your wellbeing

Wellbeing is about how you're feeling and how well you can cope with things. Different things can affect your wellbeing, like:

  • What you eat and drink
  • How much sleep you get
  • What you do to relax

Looking after your wellbeing can help you to feel calmer and less overwhelmed. For more information, see our page on looking after your wellbeing.

Be more active

Any activity that gets your heart rate up, like running, boxercise or swimming, can help you to clear your mind. Even a walk can make a difference. Exercise can also help you feel happier and more relaxed, as well as giving you something to focus on in the long term.

For more suggestions on things you can try, go to the NHS website.

Build your self-esteem and confidence

Feelings of anger may come from not having confidence in yourself or your abilities. Building your confidence and self-esteem will help you to express how you feel and think more positively.

For tips on how you can do this, see our page on confidence and self-esteem.

Learn to assert yourself

Being ‘assertive’ means being able to give your opinion, say what you want or need, or say how you feel, without getting angry. It's about standing up for yourself while also being respectful of other people's views and feelings.

Being more assertive can help make communication easier and help others understand you.

If you want to find out more, Childline has tips on how to be more assertive.

Reach out for support

You might feel nervous about opening up, but sharing how you feel can be first step to getting help with your anger.

You might find it helpful to read our pages about opening up to friends and family and talking to a doctor.

Without speaking to someone, I would still be in such a terrible state.

Get help in college or school

Speak to a teacher you trust, or your pastoral care team, to see how they can help you manage your anger.

If your anger is linked to a mental health problem or another condition, your school or college might also be able to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for you. These are changes to the physical environment or the support you're offered. For example, they might let you take time out of class when you're feeling angry, or provide somewhere quiet and calm for you to spend break and lunchtimes.

To find out more about ‘reasonable adjustments’ see our information on understanding diagnosis.

Don't bottle it up, or push your anger to the side. Because it will build up and you will eventually explode. Deal with your anger little by little – breathing exercises, writing down how you feel, venting to a friend.

This information was published in March 2021. We will revise it in 2024.

The quotes on this page are from young people we spoke to while making this information. They've given us their consent to use their quotes in our information. The words, experiences and opinions in the quotes are not related to the young people shown in any of the photographs we use.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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