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Inevitably, whether sleepy, hurt, jealous or feeling sick, your child will become angry or upset. It can be something as simple as having been out too long at the mall to something more direct like a sibling taking the other child’s favorite toy. There are quick and simple ways you can calm your child, but be aware that each child is different and may take different methods to settle down.

1. Small children are often comforted by being held tightly. Rock and sing to them. Express your love for them in terms that increase in size. For example, “My love for you is as big as a bug.” Then progress to, “My love for you is as big as a gorilla.” Encourage your child to help you think up bigger and bigger things until they are no longer focused on the anger.

2. Whisper in your child’s ear. Whisper that you love them, or whisper something silly. Usually if they’ve been screaming it will stop as they try to listen. If you can think up something really great to say, often the upset turns to laughter or at least a less frantic mood.

3. Hold your child and tell them they have a smile inside, and if they don’t let it out it will turn into a giggle. Often it will. If your child is reticent to smile, tickle them gently, or say “no laughing” and usually this will turn things around until the anger is replaced with laughter and smiles.

These methods are not meant to encourage any parent to ignore their child’s anger. Once you have your child calmed down, you can then ask what the trouble is because they won’t be able to communicate very well if they are screaming, crying or too upset to speak. Talk softly and gently to your child so that just talking about what angered and upset them doesn’t bring it all back, causing another fit of anger or tears.