Your 7-year-old lost his lunch money at school—and now his playdate canceled. So he slams his Lego tower against the wall, sending bricks flying everywhere. Your heart stops. Does expressing anger that way mean he may become a violent adult? Um, unlikely, says Heather Shumaker, author of It's OK Not to Share. “Frustration and anger are normal emotions, and kids need a strong physical release for them,” she says. But to safely redirect his feelings, have him:
1. Run around the living room or largest room in your home 50 (or any arbitrary number) of times; he'll be in a contained space, the counting will distract him and he'll get pooped out.
2. Go into a closed area (like the bathroom or a big closet or the basement) and yell at the top of his lungs. This gives him a safe place to vent without freaking out younger sibs (or the dog, or the neighbors).
3. Karate-chop a big piece of wrapping paper. It produces a satisfying ripping noise and makes him feel powerful. Go outside and make faces at you through the window.
4. Run around the house, and repeat. (After a few times, this is likely to dissolve into a giggling fit.)
5. Throw dirt at a tree. He'll get messy, but he can't hurt anything.