Why Is My Child Angry?

It is common for children to get upset and have tantrums or meltdowns, which usually include: crying, yelling, and refusing to listen. However, if this is happening repeatedly and they are not controlling their temper, it may be something more. Some signs that your child’s temper is more than typical behavior:

  • The tantrums or outbursts occur past the age of being developmentally expected (generally up to 7 or 8 years old)

  • Their behavior puts themselves or others in danger

  • The behavior has caused them trouble in school

  • Outbursts get in the way of forming positive relationships with peers

  • Tantrums and defiance cause conflict within the home and family

  • Your child feels they cannot control their anger and may feel badly about it

Regular outbursts could be a sign of distress, which means the first step is understanding what is triggering this behavior. There could be many different reasons for the behavior, including:


Children with ADHD can have trouble controlling their impulses, hyperactivity, and behavior. This makes it difficult to comply with instructions, which can appear to be defiance and anger. The inability to focus may lead to power struggles, which include tantrums and arguing.

2) Anxiety

Anger and defiance may be a sign of unrecognized anxiety. If your child is dealing with anxiety, they may not realize it is causing them distress. This creates difficulty coping with situations, which can lead to lashing out when demands and pressure are put on them. The tantrums or refusal to listen could be the avoidance of something bigger.

3) Trauma

It is common that when a child goes through trauma, neglect, or chaos at home, they act out in school. This is because they are struggling to feel safe at home and exhibit intimidating behaviors in school.

3) Undiagnosed Learning Problems

If you notice that your child is frequently acting out during school or homework time, there could be an undiagnosed learning issue. If they are struggling to understand the content, they are probably frustrated and irritable when surrounded by the work. If they do not know or want to ask for help, they may act out, which can cause a diversion from the real issues.

4) Sensory Processing Issues

If you child has trouble with processing sensory information, they may be oversensitive or undersensitive to stimulation. This means that things, such as uncomfortable clothing, bright light, or too much noise can make them anxious, distracted, and overwhelmed. This can lead to meltdowns that appear to be for no reason.

5) Autism

Those who are diagnosed on the autism spectrum are frequently prone to meltdowns. They may be rigid in their thoughts and need a consistent routine to feel safe. This means that any unexpected change can be a reason for a tantrum. Sensory issues also cause them to be overwhelmed until they exhaust themselves with a meltdown. If they lack the language and communication skills to express what they need or want, they may get frustrated, which can come out in anger.

Talk therapy can help your child express themselves and help you learn their emotional and behavioral needs. To pair your child with a therapist who specializes in child therapy, click here.