Extension Logo
Extension Logo
University of Minnesota Extension

Dos and don'ts of managing anger

Looking for ways to control your anger? Here are some dos and don'ts for managing anger toward your child's other parent.


Take time to think about the problem and clarify your position. Before you speak up, ask yourself:

  • What is it about the situation that makes me angry?
  • What is the real issue here?
  • Where do I stand? (What do I want to accomplish?)
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • What, specifically, do I want to change?
  • What things will I do (and not do) in order to help bring about the change?

Speak up when an issue is important to you. You don’t have to personally address every injustice and irritation that comes along in your dealings with the other parent. But it is a mistake to stay silent if the cost is feeling bitter, resentful, or seriously unhappy. You devalue yourself when you don’t take a stand on issues that matter to you.

Use statements that reflect your own experience. Avoid statements that criticize, blame, or hold the other person responsible for your feelings or reactions. 

Learn to be assertive, not aggressive, when solving problems. An assertive person establishes a pattern of respect that encourages future dealings; an aggressive person establishes a pattern of fear that encourages the avoidance of future dealings. 

Appreciate the fact that people are different. Recognize that there are as many ways of seeing the world as there are people in it. Different perspectives and ways of reacting do not necessarily mean that one person is “right” and the other “wrong.”


React. Instead, take a moment and respond. If your temper starts rising in the middle of a conversation with the other parent, you can always say something like, "I need a little time to sort my thoughts out. Let’s set up another time to talk about it more." 

Use unacceptable tactics such as blaming, interrogating, or lecturing. Likewise, don't voice interpretations, diagnoses or analyses of the other person's actions. You should especially avoid belittling the other parent in front of your children.

Make vague requests. It's not helpful to say something like: “I want you to be more sensitive to the children.” Be specific about what you've observed and what you would like to change. 

Expect the other parent to anticipate your needs or do things you have not expressed out loud. Even people you are close to can’t read your mind.

Spin your wheels trying to convince others of the "rightness" of your perspective. If the other parent  is not hearing you, simply say something like, "I understand that you disagree. We just see it differently."

Tell the other parent what they are thinking or feeling. Everyone has a right to their own opinion.

Speak through your children. State your message directly to the other parent.

Expect change to come quickly. Practice defusing your anger in conversations and you may see an improvement in your relationship over time.

Get discouraged if you sometimes fail to control your anger when communicating with the other parent. Getting derailed is part of the process, so be patient with yourself. You will have many opportunities to get back on track and try again.

Author: Rose M. Allen, former Extension educator

Reviewers: Ellie M. McCann and Sharon Powell, Extension educators

Reviewed in 2023

Page survey

© 2024 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.