Jenni DeWitt photo for Nov. 16 blog

Kids need to be taught how to handle their emotions.

As a young, inexperienced mom, that fact surprised me. I figured it was just something they would learn organically as they went through life. But then, I’d see the anger rise up in my little boys’ faces, and I realize it was something I needed to intentionally teach them.

So, just as I’d turned to books to help me teach them their letters, shapes and numbers, I turned to books to help me teach them how to handle their anger. Here are three books about anger that ended up being my boys’ favorites over the years.

1. "The Angry Octopus" by Lori Lite. This book was actually written by a mom who was trying to help her own child with anger issues. I’ll never forget the look on my mother-in-law’s face the first time my son asked her to read it to him. The further she got into the book, the more her expression said, “Are you kidding me?” Even while I was laughing, I got it. This book basically walks kids through relaxation techniques they can use when they feel like they are about to explode with anger. It can seem sort of strange to us straight-laced Nebraskans, but my boys absolutely loved it. On more than one occasion, I caught them using the relaxation techniques in this book to help themselves calm down.

2. "I Was So Mad" by Mercer Mayer. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with Mercer Mayer. Like the Berenstain Bears series, Mercer Mayer has a lot of spot-on books that help kids deal with the big and little challenges of life in a family. The main character in the books, Little Critter, inevitably draws a laugh as he goes through common situations in his own unique, hilarious way. In this book, the overarching theme is that anger is temporary and, if we focus on the positive (like the chance to play outside with friends), it can help us start to feel better.

3. "When I Feel Angry" by Cornelia Maude Spelman. The little bunny in this story is having a bad day, and she’s pretty mad about it. But as she goes through the story, she learns how to calm herself down and get to a place where she can be OK again without hurting anybody. Of all the many books we had, this is one my kids went to again and again.

You can find a plethora of children’s books about anger online. I’m sure they are all good in their own way, but these are three that my own children were particularly fond of when they were younger.

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Jenni DeWitt is married and has two sons, the youngest of whom battled childhood leukemia – and won. Jenni writes weekly for Momaha.com. She is the author of "Forty Days" and "Why Won't God Talk to Me?" You can read more about Jenni here.

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