Temper is often scary to children and can make them feel out-of-control or even ashamed. Caregivers often want to immediately jump to teaching children anger management skills, which makes sense! But before kids can learn these skills, they first need to know that their feelings are valid and safe, even if their behavior could be different. Furthermore, there are only so many anger management skills out there (e.g.,. taking deep breaths, counting to 10), and if they’re taught before a child is ready to hear them (i.e., adequately validated and hurt feelings addressed; developmentally old enough to have the insight and/or self-control necessary; emotionally safe enough to know that if they try it and it doesn’t work, they’ll still be loved), the skills run the risk of coming off as invalidating, shaming, or punitive to a child. Not only does this not help a child in their moment of distress, but it can make it harder for them to learn these skills later on when they are ready for them. My hope is that there are books in this section that meet children where they are at and provide a nuanced approach to anger management. There are books that destigmatize anger and remind children that they are still loved even when they lose control (which could be a good start for many children), that motivate and empower children to learn to manage their temper, and that teach relaxation and mindfulness skills. Importantly, I recommend reading these books with children exclusively at times when a child is feeling relaxed and happy (i.e., not during or immediately after a tantrum).
Age range: 1st grade through 5th grade.
Recommended for: This excellent interactive workbook empowers children to learn strategies to calm their temper. It reviews cognitive strategies (e.g., “cool thoughts”) and behavioral strategies (e.g., deep breaths, squeezing a pillow), and it touches on problem solving, compromise, flexible thinking, and avoiding “payback” escalation. It’s best for a child who is able to articulate their thoughts to some extent, but if a child isn’t yet able to do this, many of the other chapters on “anger-dousing” strategies will still be applicable and helpful. This workbook is great for a child who is ready to learn some strategies as well as a kid who is ambivalent about managing their anger or who doesn’t yet feel that it’s possible.
Age range: 2nd grade through 5th grade.
Recommended for: This book is ideal for an older, verbally-oriented child who is scared of their anger and/or feels embarrassed or ashamed by their behavior when they’re angry. The book destigmatizes anger by presenting it as a valuable feeling that shows us when we’ve been hurt or that something is unfair. It teaches children strategies for managing the feeling in healthy ways (e.g. deep breaths, talking about it with someone they trust) so that they can use their anger to motivate positive change.
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This book is a really great introduction to anger management and would probably be best received by a child who has expressed some interest in getting a better handle on their anger (maybe they want to get in trouble less, or they’ve expressed sadness about hurting someone’s feelings while they were angry). Importantly, it teaches children to listen to their anger (e.g., maybe a child needs a rest or someone needs to stop being unfair) as well as to calm down using a handful of impactful coping strategies (e.g., taking a break, deep breaths, exercise, talking with a trusted person).
Age range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Recommended for: For children, this book provides reassurance that even when their anger gets the best of them, their parents still love them, and a hug can really help. For adults, this book is a short, emotionally vibrant reminder that when children “flame” and destroy things, it’s a scary, lonely experience for them, and they often need a hug.
Age range: Preschool through Kindergarten.
Recommended for: This story is excellent for a child who feels ashamed of their temper and would benefit from a reminder that lots of very good, very loving children say and do things they regret when their temper gets the best of them. It ends with an understanding mother who gives Katie a hug and helps her to clean up the mess her temper made. This story doesn’t teach any specific anger management strategies, but it could be a start to conversations about what it’s like for a child when they turn into their own version of Bombaloo, which in turn could motivate a child’s openness to discussing anger management strategies.
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This story is a good read for a child who is ambivalent about learning to manage their anger. For some children, temper can feel powerful (if also a bit scary), and they’re reluctant to give this up. This story walks a child through the consequences of their temper being in control, and it models an effective apology.
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This book is best for a child who is ambivalent about controlling their temper and reluctant to use anger management strategies. Perhaps they feel empowered by their temper, or it gets them what they want sometimes. This story uses the metaphor of a pet Temper to show how Temper can be fun and useful until it starts to really get in the way. It presents anger management strategies (e.g., counting to 10, deep breaths) as a way to increase a child’s power and control, rather than Temper being in charge.

Allie All Along

Written and illustrated by Sarah Lynne Reul
Age range: Preschool through Kindergarten.
Recommended for: This book is a good introduction to anger management strategies for young children. An older brother helps his younger sister to calm down from a tantrum by coaching her through different coping skills. The book doesn’t ask that a child be able to identify their thoughts or feelings or what triggered the anger outburst; rather it non-judgmentally walks a child through a series of concrete skills to use to get back to feeling like themselves (e.g., squeezing a stuffed animal, pretending to blow out candles, counting backwards from 10).
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: Young children who lose their temper when something goes wrong will connect with this book and benefit from the anger-management strategies it teaches. The story normalizes and destigmatizes the feeling of anger, and it teaches several child-friendly skills to safely manage anger. Dinosaur lovers will particularly like this story.
Age range: Preschool through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This fun rhyming story that’s a joy to read aloud helps children learn two anger management strategies to deal with a bad day: taking deep breaths and sharing about one’s feelings. It’s ideal for a child who needs a light touch when talking about these strategies (e.g., who might feel defensive or criticized with a more serious book).
Age range: 1st through 4th grade.
Recommended for: This book is excellent to read with a child who is already able to label their feelings at least some of the time, and who will enjoy thinking more deeply about their emotions. It teaches children that anger is often the “crust” on top of a pie filled with other feelings that need to be noticed and expressed so that they don’t bubble up and explode. After talking with her Tia, Amaya realizes that she’s been getting angry a lot lately because she’s been feeling jealous of the attention her baby sister has been getting, so it’s particularly relevant for kids in a similar situation, but it’s certainly not limited to this scenario. The book also provides a convincing rationale for taking deep breaths and provides a nice visual for practicing this skill. It’s available in English and Spanish.
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Evidence-Based Practices: Mindfulness, Diaphragmatic Breathing
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This sequel to Anh’s Anger tells the story of how Anh copes with an incident of rejection by his friends at recess. The story teaches the skill of a walking meditation (i.e., walking slowly, breathing in with one step and out on the next, while counting each step) as a way to soothe one’s anger. It’s a great tool for children to have in their “emotion regulation toolkit” because it doesn’t require any special equipment. A child can use this skill on a walk to the bathroom, to a drinking fountain, or around a backyard–anywhere that they can take a couple dozen steps.
Evidence-Based Practices: Diaphragmatic Breathing, Mindfulness