passive aggression by children

Win a FREE Copy of The Angry Smile!


Hello all–

I’ve got a busy Fall planned, with several training workshops featuring The Angry Smile.  Although I’ve got a good number of stories about sugarcoated hostility, excessive civility, defiant compliance, and plain old passive aggressive behavior to share, I am always looking for fresh, new examples.  If you have a good example of passive aggressive behavior from a friend, family member, co-worker, parent, child, mother-in-law (those are the best!), boss, on Facebook, via e-mail, on a post-it note, or all of the above, I would love to hear it!

Please e-mail me your story to or better yet, leave it here via the Comments section.  Be sure to leave me your e-mail address; I will be sending a free copy of The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces, 2nd ed. to the best example I receive.

Spread the word.  It’ll be great for my collection of real-life examples of passive aggressive behavior and probably worth several laughs for you as well, as you hear about the hilarious lengths some people go to avoid expressing their anger directly and assertively.




PLEASE NOTE: By submitting this story to, you grant Signe Whitson a permanent, royalty-free license to use and/or reproduce this story for any purpose.

5 Strategies for Parents Coping with a Daughter’s Passive Aggressive Behavior


Please check out my article, featured on  The post offers insight into the intentionally maddening world of passive aggressive behavior and tips for how parents can cope with–and effectively change–this pattern of behavior.



How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids and Teens


Best. Mail Delivery. Ever.

Just got home to find copies of my new book, How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids and Teens, on my front porch.  Please check it out here or at 

I wrote it specifically for professionals and parents to help kids learn that having angry feelings does not make you bad; it makes you human.  Learning how to effectively cope with and express those feelings in ways that enhance–rather than damage–relationships is the key.

How to Be Angry is packed with discussion-starters, games, and kid-friendly activites to help young people learn how to express their anger in assertive, relationship-building ways.  It features two chapters on standing up to bullies, as well as tips on disagreeing without arguing, making and refusing requests, and responding to others’ anger.

I hope you enjoy it…check back and let me know what you think!

13 Common Phrases to Let You Know Your Child is Being Passive Aggressive


Does your child express his anger with a passive aggressive vocabulary?  Check out this post from Psychology Today to find out:

What’s Your Anger Expression Style? Take this Quiz to Find Out


Is your child the type to come right out and tell you when he is feeling angry? Does he stuff his anger inside? Perhaps he is most likely to express his feelings in sneaky ways. Or maybe, when he is mad, the whole world knows about it—and better step aside! Whatever your child’s anger style, chances are he has developed it over the years and modeled it after…gulp…much-loved family members.

Take this Anger Styles Quiz to learn about how anger is articulated in your family: (more…)

3 Ways that Kids’ Anger Bites Back


How many of you were told as a child, “Don’t be mad at your friend. She was just kidding,” or even “It’s not nice to be angry with your parents?” How many of you–gulp–have even uttered messages like these to your own children? Don’t worry; my hand is raised also. Despite the fact that I just wrote a book about helping kids accept and manage angry feelings, sometimes these knee-jerk responses just fly out of my mouth–as they do everyone else’s.

Are they the worst things to say to a child? Well, having worked for several years with abused children, I can definitively say (more…)

Decision, Decisions: Helping Kids Make Constructive Choices for Expressing Anger


Pack lunch or buy it? Headband or hairclip? Tell the truth or spare her feelings with a little white lie? Every day, kids face dozens of choices, from the ordinary to the complicated. One of the most important decisions a young person makes each day has to do with how he handles angry feelings. (more…)

Passive Aggressive Behavior in Schools: One Teacher’s Learning Experience


I just received this great bit of feedback from a teacher in Alaska who recently completed the one-day training on The Angry Smile.  The feedback I’d like to return to her: don’t beat yourself up about the “could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve.”  We all make mistakes with the kids we are trying to help and we all wish we could do even more for them.  It’s an incredibly difficult profession!

Learning new strategies and applying them is something to feel proud of and excited about.  So, no more “Shame on me’s!”  Feel good about all of your hard work–it’s tiring and often thankless, but the rewards in lives-changed and hearts-touched are endless.

Participant’s Feedback:


For years I’ve referred to many of the behaviors on the

“Recognizing the Warning Signs” page as self-destructive. I suppose they are, but I had never viewed

them from the viewpoint of how they might be symptoms of passive-aggressive

patterns. Often knowing why a student is

acting a particular way is the one piece of information we lack, yet it’s the

most crucial one. Now I understand that

Elijah turned in poor quality work with appalling penmanship as a strategy to

deal with his anger. I can even begin to

formulate a theory as to what his anger might be about, but alas this student

has moved on from my class. I think I

will forever remember him as the student I was able to help too late. For future students, however, the Angry Smile

class has provided me with a great introduction to what I would like to learn

about passive-aggressive behavior.

I wish I could go back and say to this student, “I’m

thinking you must find this work to be a waste of your time. I think we should forget about this

assignment and work together to find some tasks that you will feel good about

doing.” Or, “I see that you might have

completed your work, but once again I am not able to clearly read your

handwriting. I really wish I could

accurately read your story, because I know you have a vivid imagination. I sometimes feel like I might be missing the

most important parts.” Did I ever tell

him in a positive way that his handwriting stunk? Never, not once in three years. Shame on me!

This is another class that I would love to explore in

greater depth. I can see myself in the fall better equipped to recognize those warning signs

and patterns, and I think that is a good first step.

I Was So Mad! Teaching Assertive Anger Expression to Kids


From the cries of infancy, to the tantrums of toddlerhood, and hopefully the self-control of school-age years, developing the delicate art of anger expression is a process for children. Some little ones seem to be born with a cool head while others show their hot-tempers right from birth. No matter what your child’s temperament, all people have choices when it comes to handling angry feelings. Parents play the crucial role in helping their children make healthy choices when it comes to anger expression. Consider (more…)

Finding Kind: A Documentary Film about Friendship in Girl World


Some days, I troll around on Facebook browsing at the silly, fun goings-on in the lives of my friends.  Other days, I stumble upon the most interesting, powerful links.  Today was a lucky day–one that makes me ask: with all of my work around girl bullying, how did I not know about this group??  Please check out the Kind Campaign and their incredible documentary film, Finding Kind:


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