How to control anger when dealing with children and grandparents

By: Tonya Mead, PhD, MBA, M.Ed, School Psychologist, CHFI, CFE, PI

With the Covid-19 epidemic, parents and caretakers probably have every right to be angry. However, it is a privilege and a luxury that most can not afford.

Today, I’m updating an article I published a while back that referenced the alleged action of a grandmother throwing her granddaughter off a parking garage walkway. The incident described a situation whereby, a Fairfax County, Virginia woman took the holiday shopping experience to a whole new level.

How does this relate to the Present Situation ?

First, the good news. With mandated school closures and governors’ orders to stay in place due do the coronavirus pandemic, the Pew Research Center as recently as March 2020 found that ” 65% of adults with children younger than 12 at home say it has been at least somewhat easy for them to handle child care responsibilities during this time, with 32% saying it has been very easy.

Now, the bad news. According to the same research survey, Pew found that “about a third (35%) say this has been very or somewhat difficult for them.”  Perhaps the parents finding this health pandemic an immediate crisis are those that are experiencing financial hardships, loss in financial resources, reduction in hours and even job loss. These conditions are ripe for the festering of anger.


In the Psychology of Anger (2010) a psychologist has argued that aggressive impulses are necessary. They provide us with the energy and drive we need to stay competitive. The rationalization is that without inner aggression, we ‘will [would] never achieve anything in life.’ (Roy, 2010) Whether we agree or disagree with that statement is not the point. The purpose of this article is to present methods of anger management, particularly when living in close quarters with family unaccustomed to round-the-clock proximity lack of access to entertainment, recreational, shopping and outdoor activities to burn off steam. Without which,  may lead (if uncontrolled) to death and violence.

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Patterns that lead to Anger

1. Identify events, situations, and people that trigger your anger. If it is the two year old granddaughter of whom you babysit, refrain from babysitting and/or remove yourself from the situation.
2. Take a look at your surroundings when you feel your blood boiling. Is it crowded, loud, noisy? Find a more relaxing environment or ‘calm’ space within the chaos and confusion.
3. What were you actually doing when your anger attack took hold? Were you physically exerting yourself, climbing a flight of ten stairs, combating the 5:00pm rush hour traffic, or multi-tasking? If so, resolve to find ways to minimize the activity causing you stress.
4. Now that you have analyzed the events, surroundings and action- the hardest part to deciphering your anger code is to reach around, beyond the emotions and deep within to uncover the actual problem.
5. Visualize a stop sign. Do not make another move until you have stopped to think about what is making you so angry. Do you feel helpless, hurt? Are you afraid, overwhelmed, under-appreciated?
6. When you feel that you are falling into a self-defeatist, destructionalist mode, take a deep breath, count to ten, then reverse the count by counting backwards. Remember once you commit to changing the patterns that lead to angry outbursts, you can modify your reaction.

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