How Does A Parent’s Anger Impact His or Her Child?

March 10, 2011
How Does A Parent’s Anger Impact His or Her Child

We have been discussing the topic of anger in many different ways in my last series of posts. Some may think that anger is benign in its impact as long as no one “gets hurt.”  However, it is interesting to think about what some researchers are saying about the impact of anger on children.

Anger and Its Effect on Children

child on steps

Chronic parental anger affects adult children, too.

According to the research in When Anger Hurts Your Child, the authors found that the following appeared to be true:

  • Children of angry parents are more aggressive and noncompliant
  • Children of angry parents are less empathetic
  • Children of angry parents have poor overall adjustment
  • There is a strong relationship between parental anger and delinquency
  • The effects of parental anger can continue to impact the adult child, including increasing degrees of depression, social alienation, spouse abuse and career and economic achievement.

The cost of a legacy of anger

It is essential that we help parents who suffer chronic anger. They must learn to deal effectively with their anger, particularly the anger toward their children.

Parents often become angry with their children because children fail to comply with parents’ expectations. Thus, it is extremely helpful for parents to learn about normal expectations for children for each age and stage of growth and development.


It helps to understand your child's temperament and development.

Many parenting books provide age and stage developmental information to parents to help them understand what to expect from their children.  Further, a clear understanding about a child’s temperament (the characteristics your child is born with) is insightful when trying to understand a child’s reaction to his or her parents.

Benefits of breaking legacies of anger

If parents and caregivers are willing to learn about anger and become more proficient in responding to anger in healthy ways significant benefits result within the family’s environment. Some of those benefits are that parents and caregivers:

  • Become calmer when interacting with children
  • Become better able to promote emotional and relational health
  • Are less afraid of their children’s anger
  • Have less need to be as angry
  • Are less likely to do damage when angry
  • Can better appreciate underlying causes of a child’s or adult’s anger
  • Become less afraid of their own anger
  • Are better able to break destructive family legacies around anger
  • Can model coping with anger in healthy ways
  • Feel more prepared to cope with their own anger and the anger of the children
  • Feel more in charge and confident

Healthy families have less stress, more confidence.

Dealing with anger is so important to ensuring a healthy family. Besides less stress, children will feel more safe and have higher self-esteem. There will also be more time and energy to enjoy family life.

When we consider the impact of anger on our children, it is a worthy pursuit to learn to cope with our anger as we strive to build healthier and emotionally safe environments in our homes.

Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

Some information taken from Understanding Anger, 2004, Diane Wagenhals.

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