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For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.

Managing Anger or Anxiety

August 2016 | Shana Sexton, LCSW - Social Worker, Adult Down Syndrome Center

Have you ever wondered how to help someone with Down syndrome manage their anger or anxiety? There are a few techniques that I teach people that may help. 


The first technique is called "relaxing breathing." The first thing to do is to think of a place that makes you feel relaxed while you are there. This could be the beach, your bedroom, your living room couch, your backyard, the woods, the sensory room, etc. Close your eyes and think of your relaxing place. Pretend you are there and experiencing all of the sights and sounds. For instance, if your relaxing place is the beach, you would pretend that you can hear the sound of the waves, the sun on your face, the feel of your towel against your skin, etc. Keep your eyes closed and keep pretending you are in your relaxing place. Then take a breath in like you are smelling beautiful flowers. Breathe out like you are blowing out your birthday candles. Keep breathing in like you are smelling flowers and out like you are blowing out birthday candles. Do this for a few minutes. Then open your eyes and think about how you feel. It is nice to do this while listening to relaxing music, like music for meditation. Practice for a few minutes every day! 

The second technique is called "robot/spaghetti." First, practice being stiff like a robot. It may help to think of a robot you have seen in movies or TV shows, like C3PO from Star Wars. How does he move? He moves very stiffly like his elbows and knees don't work. Practice walking very stiffly like C3PO. Make all of the muscles in your body very tight. Next, think about spaghetti on your plate. It is very loose and relaxed. Make your body loose and wiggly like spaghetti. Everything is very relaxed. Tell yourself, "I can calm down." Now put it together. Make your muscles tight like a robot. Then relax everything and make yourself loose like spaghetti. Remind yourself: "I can calm down." Do this a few times. How do you feel? This is something you can easily do in any place to help you feel more relaxed. 

Another way to relax is with a technique similar to "robot/spaghetti." Instead of making your whole body tight and loose, you will do one part at a time. Sit in a comfortable chair. First, make the muscles in your face tight by scrunching up your face. Then relax, making the muscles loose. Next, tense up your arms. Put them straight out in front of you and make all of the muscles tight. Then relax them. Tense up your shoulders and chest. Shrug your shoulders and make them tight. Then let everything go loose and relax. Next, tense up your legs. Put them straight out in front of you and make all of the muscles tight. Then relax them and let them go loose. Take a deep breath in and out. How do you feel? This is another technique that is nice to do while listening to relaxing music.


Visuals and videos on managing anger and anxiety can be found in this article from our Resource Library. 

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Please note: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a medical, psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment plan by a qualified professional. We recommend you review the educational material with your health providers regarding the specifics of your health care needs.