How can I stop being an angry father? Developing healthy coping skills

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox
Updated January 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

While anger can be a typical human emotion that many experience, it can hurt your relationships when it’s not expressed healthfully—especially those with your family. Read on to learn how to avoid being an angry father and develop healthy, practical coping strategies to manage your anger and stress.  

Why do fathers feel angry sometimes?

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Raising children can be overwhelming. As a parent, you might be often asked to balance multiple demands on your time and resources. Between work, family, household chores and a social life, it can seem like coping skills to manage your stress and anger might be limited. 

However, while anger can be a typical human emotion, it can be damaging if you find yourself going into a rage or being unable to cool down when upset. In these cases, you may benefit from therapeutic support and strategic coping skills. 

What is anger management?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anger management is generally defined as a therapeutic approach that is focused on reducing emotional and physical reactions caused by anger. While you cannot “get rid of” or avoid the situations that frustrate you, it can be possible to avoid parenting from a place of anger as you continue practicing anger management. 

In this context, the American Psychological Association notes that: “There are psychological tests that measure the intensity of angry feelings, how prone to anger you are, and how well you handle it. But chances are good that if you do have a problem with anger, you already know it. If you find yourself acting in ways that seem out of control and frightening, you might need help finding better ways to deal with this emotion”. 

How can anger affect my parenting experience?

If you’ve been angry in front of your children before, you might have found that your kids can mirror your mood when you're angry and stressed. Additionally, parental anger can prompt dysregulation in some children. As a result, they may find it hard to concentrate, have difficulty playing with other children, and shift their personalities toward quiet, fearful, aggressive or rude demeanors. 

If you find that this is already happening, we do want to note that therapy and other supportive strategies can offer resources and steps that can help reduce the incidence of both anger and anger-related dysregulation. 

What you can do to manage anger

The path to anger management can look different for everyone. However, the Mayo Clinic offers scientifically supported information that can help fathers learn more about managing anger in practical and positive ways. Some of these suggestions might include: 

  • Taking a moment to think about your words before reacting to a situation 
  • Expressing your concerns clearly when you’ve reached a calm state of mind
  • Exercising regularly
  • Taking an adult “time out” and giving yourself a break to prepare well for whatever you might be facing
  • Identifying potential solutions to the situation
  • Evaluating what is outside your control and focusing on what you can do 
  • Using “I” statements to express your feelings 
  • Letting humor release tension and lighten the mood 
  • Practicing active relaxation techniques
  • Stepping away from the situation if necessary to avoid escalation 
  • Reaching out for professional help 

Additionally, you may also try our strategic suggestions below. 

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Identify and recognize your anger triggers

Managing your anger can be easier when you know what causes it. In this context, understanding your anger triggers can help you find ways to react differently or avoid the situation altogether. It may also help to understand the signs of anger thoroughly, allowing you to step away more effectively when you begin to feel your specific range of symptoms. 

For example: When angry, you may experience an increased heart rate, a churning stomach, agitation, faster breathing, flushing in your face and neck, tense shoulders and a shift to negative thought patterns. Understanding what this looks like early on in a reaction can give you time to step away before you show anger towards your children. 

Recognize behavior triggers in your children

If your children’s behavior often triggers your anger, you might try pinpointing the situations that trigger their adverse reactions—possibly avoiding the problem before it starts. 

There are many different types of triggers that may prompt you to anger. These can include: 

  • Emotional triggers—Children can experience the full spectrum of emotions with relatively quick shifts between them, which can cause outbursts that seem random or disconnected. They may also act out if they are having trouble with friends or school or feel as if they aren’t getting enough attention. 
  • Physical triggers—Children might display adverse behaviors when experiencing unpleasant sensations, such as being tired, needing a bathroom, hunger, or thirst. They might also act out if they aren’t feeling well. 
  • Educational or developmentally-based triggers— Children might generally make mistakes as they grow and learn about the world around them. Unintended consequences can result in behaviors that may trigger your anger.     

Develop healthy coping skills

One of the most effective ways to manage anger for many is to develop an adaptive repertoire of practical and healthy coping skills to support your emotional regulation. 

The APA generally recommends using varied coping strategies to process your emotional reactions. You can do this either on your own, or with the assistance of a licensed therapist— learning coping skills can help you regulate your emotions and control the impulsive action of anger. 

Build your emotional intelligence and literacy

Working with a qualified therapist can help you learn emotional intelligence, which empowers you to build your ability to recognize and understand your emotions and their triggers. You can also learn emotional literacy, which can support you in communicating your needs and feelings effectively. 

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Therapies that help with anger management

Once you find a therapist you feel comfortable working with, you may choose to discuss the various types of therapy—ultimately choosing one that aligns best with your unique needs. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a method of therapy that can help people find positive and adaptive ways to manage their anger. In addition to learning coping strategies, CBT can help you shift your emotional and physical response to anger, possibly offering you more control. 

Family therapy 

Frequent and persistent anger can damage your family relationships. Family therapy can help you communicate with your loved ones in a supportive environment as you work to repair your family dynamic. 

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)

Generally recognized as a specialized form of CBT, this form of therapy can be used to help those experiencing intense or frequent anger. Working with a therapist can help you build emotional regulation skills and might help you focus on tolerating frustration and introducing mindfulness to your reactions—fostering more effective communication patterns overall. 

Psychodynamic therapy

This form of therapy can empower you to examine your past experiences with professional support and guidance, evaluating how your history can affect your tendency toward anger. Psychodynamic therapy can also help you identify and correct unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns. 

How can online therapy can help you manage anger as a father?

Finding ways to live with anger alone can feel challenging, particularly if your children frequently upset you. In this case, you might consider speaking to a licensed therapist through an online therapy provider like BetterHelp. With flexible appointment formats and a more attainable therapeutic model for many, you can learn to build healthy communication skills and find positive ways to manage your anger. 

Is online therapy effective for anger management support? 

According to a recent study, four weeks of online anger management therapy can produce noticeable results in many. This can have a “ripple effect,” possibly helping improve interactions between yourself and your family. 

Takeaway

Anger issues can create strain on important family relationships. The information provided in this article may offer some insight into tactics you can use to avoid being an angry father and the potential benefit of anger management therapy. Online intervention has been scientifically suggested to show comparable results when compared to in-person therapy. BetterHelp can connect you with a therapist in your specific area of need.  

Learn to separate anger from behavior

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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