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 a parent’s anger on children.

The Effect of Anger on Children

agressive angry conflict child screaming shouting, problem behaviour

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
  • Kids 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 a Parent’s 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.

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.

Breaking Legacies of a Parent’s 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
  • 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
Upset Girl Closing Ears While Her Parents Yelling At Her.

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.


  1. wele mouse

    right now my parents hate me, and once i saw this website, i really saw what i couldve became. right now im pretty much insane. last night i couldnt stop crying about all the bullying in school and my parents being so mean to me for no reason. i just wanted everybody else to feel what ive been through. all the criticism, all the abuse from kids at school, and my sister being a b*tch. last night i accidentally shoved my sister and then she told my mom. my mom got pissed and started yelling at me and calling me a bully. i went crazy and i ran to my room and started plotting revenge for my sister. i was so mad that i kept smashing my head on the table. i was sobbing my eyes out, and i just told myself to smile. i did , but the tears kept coming from my eyes. i was heartbroken. i was done with everyone else. i wanted everybody to feel all the emotions i had felt throughout this school year. today is the last day of school. we are gonna have fun. the thing is, my “friends” constantly bully me, but the next day, everythings back to normal. i keep being nice to them, but they dont appreciate that. i prayed so much for this to stop. but its too late for me now. ive already gone crazy. nothing really matters anymore.

    1. adenny

      I’m so sorry to hear of your extreme trials contributing to the pain you are experiencing. I would hope you can surround yourself with good influences and seek a highly valued trauma-informed therapist.

    2. Joanna Lane

      Your parents love you, but probably don’t understand your feelings or how to handle you. Do they even know how you feel with friends at school? I hope you open up to them and get the help you need. Find better friends that care about you too! You deserve that! Give your sister a break, revenge is never worth it.

      I used to pretend to be overly happy at school to compensate for my true feelings of depression. I was too young to truly understand what depression was. Then I heard a rumor that my friends had talked behind my back saying I was acting weird when I was trying my hardest to be happy and normal at school. It broke me and filled me up with so much anger I couldn’t stop crying. It was then that I realized I needed help.

      I’m a mom now of a very difficult 4 yr old. I hate the way he is currently acting. I don’t know how to change his actions and it just keeps changing and getting worse. If he would just listen to me and not fight what I say, he’d be really good all the time. But I always tell him that even when I am sad, even when I am angry or upset, I always love him. They know I have my moods, but they know I love them. Your parents are just trying to do their best to survive and get through this rough family patch. I hope you are finding yourself in a better position now and coping well with the craziness going on in the world right now.

    3. Amelia

      Oh my gosh I can’t believe you’re going through that. ? all i would say is to maybe try to get some other friends that would back you up with the bullying but I know from experience that it’s really hard. I would just try to be nice to your family so they don’t have anything to have a go at you for. If your still having a bad time I’d recommend speaking to someone. Just seen that this comment was a year ago so I hope things are a little bit better now. Hope this helps ☺️

    4. Samantha

      The hardest part of my life was my childhood. I can’t believe how much better I am now. It’s a miracle. And all it really took was time and cutting myself slack and looking into psychology.. knowing my feelings were perfectly normal. I would cut myself I would smash my head into walls wanting to knock myself out, I ran with unsafe people… and it just got a little easier every day. It’s so fucking hard when you’re a kid and don’t have control over your life in so many ways… it made me so angry. And my mom just gaslit me into thinking that anger was just who i was… that she didn’t know what was wrong with me… but looking back of course i was so hurt all of the time.. and it’s made me so much more empathetic to others.. so much wiser and compassionate and just badass cuz I can handle thinking about the hard stuff since I’ve had so much practice. This isn’t concise I apologize. But your life will be fully yours one day. It is now. It just won’t feel like it. You may opt into other drama toxic partnerships etc. That shit really do pass. And I’m only 24. And it’s still hard. But it’s so much easier. I don’t want to die anymore. I’m not filled with rage. I can manage my emotions. And I don’t even know how it happened. The world just got bigger. And your world will get bigger. Look into every single thing you feel shameful about, cuz I promise you shame doesn’t help anyone. Don’t beat yourself up for how you’re feeling. And don’t think you aren’t loved. You may just be loved by damaged people. And all you have to do is find people who respect you and you’ll feel respected. There are lots of halfass people out there. And I can tell you aren’t one of them. Own that. Be a good friend and only accept good friends back. I enter situations that I do have control over outside of my family and I’m so used to heartache and deep down thinking im asking for too much that I just accept less than love even while im fighting against it. All you have to do is create higher standards and you’ll find those things and people and realize they really were meant for you after all. Even and especially when you didn;t believe that. You’re going to get out of this. And you’re going to look at it with grace one day and compassion for your younger self. Just try to be kind to you. The only things I regret were the times I spent worrying about temporary situations
      And most everything is temporary.

    5. Samantha

      Also please please watch out for older people trying to get close to you on the internet they prey on young kids.

    6. Samantha

      There’s so much you don’t know. And I don’t mean compared to me an older person. I just mean there’s so much more you’ll learn that will bring you comfort. So much more wisdom to be had. Remember, the older you will cut you slack. The older you will understand you and validate these feelings you’re having. You’re right to want more. But your rage is hurting you more than anyone else.

  2. Nick

    My dad would scream at me every single day growing up, any thing I did was wrong and I was always a piece of trash. My parents never listened to me and always assumed I was lying when I said anything. I’m 25 now but I still remember my father’s rage like it was yesterday. I’ve been working to improve my outlook on life for a few years now and things are going well for me but that anger I had to suffer through was emotional abuse and I’m pretty sure it gave me PTSD. Please don’t trash on your children.

  3. sheena says

    My dad was never really present for most of my childhood and I relied on my mom for most of things. I remember my dad having anger issues and just screaming at me, locking me in the bathroom and turning off the lights, making me sleep outside of the house. And now that I’m older it gets worse, I come out of it with bruises on my face as well as all over my body. My mom means the world to me because she was my only parental figure and my dad treats her like trash, and how can I stand by and watch him hurt her, so I defend her. But in doing so he just ends up beating me: punching, slapping and shoving me to the ground. But I constantly need to be strong not just for myself but for my mom. At this point I’ve grown use to the abuse. I hate him. But I feel like i’m constantly in a battle with my emotions, because I keep trying to justify his actions because all I ever wanted was a dad. I tried everything to impress him, yet I know nothing ever will be enough. (I know this is kind of long and random but I just came across this and just felt like letting it out)

  4. France

    I am now living in a household full of angry people. From when I wake up till I shut my eyes at night, shouting can be heard. I admit, I adapted the negative energy and I became a hot tempered person too. My mother, who I love the most, is the most toxic person I know. There are times when we will get into arguments then the shouting at each other starts, trying to give a point but no one listens to each other. She’ll get angry so fast if her expectations and orders aren’t met. Then I will answer, trying to prove a point. For some time now, I’m trying to relax and control my anger. I’m trying to understand them. But my patience is running thin and it breaks my heart. Now I understand why my brothers do not come home anymore and it saddens me. I just want to disappear. I want peace and quiet. A home’s supposed to be one’s safe haven but mine’s not.

  5. Nancy

    Hello i hope your well and your family life is better…
    I want to apologize for your parents some of us don’t do well and should know better than to hurt there childs feeling’s in such a hmmmm messed up fashion….. I dont know them or you but you were dealt a rough hand kid ..but its ok..first of all your friends get rid of them …if there bullying you what kind of friends do that? As for the home life i completely understand can cry it’s ok im sorry for your suffering….look up to the sky sometimes he’s up there hes listening …just don’t ever give up you got this you take care of yourself …

  6. jenna

    growing up, my dad always had anger issues and my mom would justify it by saying that it was my fault and that if she was in his shoes, she would’ve done more. growing up, he would hit me and I would have bruises on my body. it’s only me though because they never laid a hand on my brother no matter how much he acts up. when i was younger, i used to think that this was the normality. now that i am older, however, i feel that i try to stand up for myself more, which makes them think that i am irrational and acting up. we got in a fight and he told me that he had given up on me, that i was a waste, and that he never wanted me in the first place. he would proceed by throwing things at me, and when i fell asleep, he threw away all my summer homework (the summer homework that took me forever to finish), saying that i shouldn’t go to school because it would be a waste. when hearing this, i would cry sometimes, for hours, until i fall asleep. he makes me have mixed feelings, sometimes i would pity myself and want to die, but other times, i wish the same thing on him, to make him go through what he made me go through. when I’m reflecting on myself, i see myself in him too. sometimes i would just burst out of anger and lash out to those around me. right now, it’s hard for me to understand myself, much less other people, and what’s going around me.

    1. Walker

      Hang in there. The fact that you’re here on pages like these means you will find answers to cope until you are on your own.

  7. m.w

    so like i feel unwanted in my household today we ate and my step dad literally got mad over the dumbest thing over some sauce for some shrimp(lol ik u might laugh) but my younger sister said she didnt want any and he got all upset and said ima make your wish come true so i left the table and he got mad so i told him you mad over some sauce and he just strted yelling and cussin at me for no reason.In the past he did the same thing got mad over little things all they do is judge me and my mom doesnt say nun she just sits up there….i feel like nobody loves me for me cuz they always use that im gay against me (im a girl)”stud” or whatever lol but it can be over of juice or if i make a mistake if i drop or break some on accident but wen they break it on accident its okay but if i do it you use that im gay against you its a lot more but yea help me not go insane cuz i basically cry everyday all day.

    1. Walker

      Start planning your escape. Save every scrap of change you can. It builds to a great amount after one year. One year of saving will give you time to research how to survive once you’re out on your own. Bills are expensive and it’s not easy to afford a place on your own. However, you’ll be happier around people who support you, even if you’re the only one who believes in yourself at first.

  8. NAT..e

    I was reading all ur comments, I didn’t know there where people out there that still care about eachother..but since we’re sharing stuff..I too have a messed up dad was an alcoholic he was very scary(still is)&he’ld come home every night drunk &bit us mostly my mom but we got in the way so we too&I was 9 when it all began..&it all ended when i became 17 cus my mom divorced him…but I still leave with him for school related reason &his not alcoholic now but he still gets so mad for no reason at all…&idk how to deal with it…I can’t talk to anyone about this cus u know…nobody cares &I want to stay cool so
    And also my life is great right now like in school stuff but in personal issues I think i’m short tempered as him &I’m trying to change really hard but nobody really cares….they still don’t see me..if u know what I mean

    1. rain

      you got this..
      have faith that you can create the life you want, whether they choose to meet you there should be their own choice but personally how can you be cool when everyone is so hot-headed around you.. its just not a good enough environment to thrive in. you gotta set boundaries and stick up for yourself if you can!! i believe in everyone’s ability to change their reality. create living space and loving space,

  9. Steve

    I am dealing with bad ptsd anger and I often yell at my kids on not listening. I wish I can be a better christian father

    1. Walker

      The best way to start is to ask them to forgive you after you act up, and good on you for trying to be better.

  10. Zenten

    My father gets very angry for the smallest things and he say such hurtful stuff,he shouts and my mom and tells her it’s her fault for not bringing up the children correctly.before he used to also beat her and beat us but he stopped now.he also used to make us kneel on the floor and hit us with the silver part of the belt.i know everyone must think this is abuse and all and it is ,but that’s the way he was raised .his father was an alcoholic who used to beat him also and do horrible things to him .anyway my siblings and my mom don’t really care about him shouting and bitching anymore but I find it difficult,I find myself getting sad whenever I hear him shout at us.i sometimes wish for a better life but I always come to the conclusion that my future spouse will also be this way and we will have troubles and problems and all that because look at my parents,I’m sure I’ll turn out the same.

  11. Daniela

    At 16 my mom told me how she was always getting abused by her father and that one time he held her at gunpoint, that traumatized my mother that when she gets angry she tries to contain herself and throw things, but sometimes that was never the case she would hit me and my siblings and sometimes threats us that she will make us bleed, she still loves us tho I can tell that she does, and I guess it passed on to me because I have a little sister and sometimes she gets me so mad that I hit her but I always try to contain myself and it works most of the time, my mother doesn’t know and I’m planning on telling I just don’t know how.

  12. Amrita

    A large part of my childhood was soent in tension. My father was angry all the time due to economic constraints. My parents fought frequently over money issues. My relation with grandparents were a fiasco… They didn’t like me. This led me to develop a social anxiety disorder and restricted me from having a healthy love life. The fear of being not accepted by a friend or anyone in general is there and I therefore always sabotage my relationship before they can hurt me.
    Wrote it in here…. Made me a little calm.

  13. Mama Bear

    I want all of you to know that you can break this cycle. Please get help from a counselor or therapist. You are all beautiful, special and important. Please don’t allow broken people to tell you otherwise. I know what you’re going through is so difficult. Don’t give up hope that your life can be better. I will think of you all and keep you in my prayers.

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