Coping with feelings of anger in a separation or divorce 

If you’re going through a separation, you’ll probably feel angry at times. It’s a natural reaction to a life-changing event.  

It’s OK to feel angry. It’s also important to learn to process it in a way that’s healthy for you and your family. 

Think about what you can do to make your own life easier and reduce the impact on your children.  

Understand your anger

Ignoring emotions doesn’t make them go away. Bottling them up can even be destructive, or make you feel ill. Instead, try different ways to manage your feelings.  

  • Try to recognise how you’re feeling and identify what made you feel like this. 
  • Thinking about what anger feels like can make it easier to spot. Do you get tense or notice your breath, thoughts or heart racing? 
  • Consider which situations trigger your anger. This can help you plan how to manage them.  
  • Do you get angry over little things? Look further and work out what’s really bothering you.

    Find things that help

    • Talk to someone. Sometimes just venting to someone can release the pressure, so try to find someone you can confide in. 
    • Write things down. If you’re feeling a lot of intense emotions at once, it can help to take pen to paper. Keep a journal or write out how you feel before you speak to someone about it.  
    • Get some distance. Step away from the situation, take some deep breaths. Go for a walk outside or do something you find relaxing. 
    • You may feel like you can’t get control of your anger alone. If that’s the case you can try finding counselling services privately or through your GP. Or read more about getting help with dealing with anger on the NHS website.  

      When children are around

      Children will pick up on how you handle your anger. They may even copy your actions when they feel angry themselves. If you shout and throw things to show you’re angry, so will they.  

      • Try not to argue in front of children. Take time out and come back to the discussion when it’s more appropriate. This also gives you a chance to cool down. 
      • Deal with your own emotions first, but stay aware of how your child feels too.  
      • Avoid speaking badly about your ex in front of your children. This will put them in the middle of your conflict. It may make them feel confused and upset.  
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      This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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