Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Anger Management

In my everyday practice, I see a lot of parents who struggle with anger. I don’t blame them. Having a child with special needs is very challenging, stressful and frustrating. But reacting out of anger only leads to more anger. Thus, this made me think about anger management.

We know that anger is a common emotion. Everybody feels angry from time to time. Different situations or people can make us angry. Even when we may not be able to change that situation or person, we can control our behaviors so we respond to the situation instead of reacting out of anger. The goal is to control and express anger in a positive, safe, appropriate and constructive way. Avoiding anger may not be realistic. Managing anger is the solution. 
In order to manage our anger it is important to know what situations make us angry, where the anger comes from, as well as recognize when the emotion is taking over.

Anger can be expressed in a destructive and hurtful way. Relations can be damaged or destroyed.  Jobs can be lost. Lives can be ruined. This is why it is necessary to develop effective anger management skills in order to promote peaceful and healthy environments and teach our children how to manage their anger too.

Identifying “anger triggers” for us and our child allows us to be equipped to respond in a positive manner. Common triggers are:

For us 
- Children's behavior
- Unexpected events
- Traffic jam
- Relationship problems
- Stress at work
- Health problems
- Financial problems

For children
 - Conflict with other kids
 - Peers rejection
 - Not getting their way
- Delaying gratification
- Waiting
- Being scolded or punished
- Being ignored

By paying attention to our body’s signs, we can “cool down” before losing control. Some signs are:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Tense muscles
- Sweaty palms
- Feeling warm
- Destructive thoughts
- Snapping at people
Children need help to understand and recognize their feelings of anger. Some signs are:
- Yelling or crying
- Throwing things
- Pulling out own hair
- Tightening fists and muscles
- Hitting self or others

I would like to share with you some ideas for “cooling down” in healthy ways:
For us:
- Exercising
- Taking deep breaths
- Time-outs: Removing ourselves from the person or situation that makes us angry
- Writing about feelings
- Going for a walk
- Sleeping/resting
- Talking to a friend or a professional

For our kids:
- Talking to an adult about their feeling: Instead of asking them to stop with the behaviors, open the door to talking, so they can learn a way to vent feelings appropriately
- Playing outside
- Removing them from the person or the environment
- Writing about their feelings
- Time-outs as a way of calming down (not as a punishment)

Anger can be expressed with words. Not communicating anger does not make it go away. It might build up and lead to an “explosion” later.
As we teach our kids effective anger management skills, they become more responsible, develop independence, and learn how to solve problems. 

Remember that our children learn by watching us coping with anger. They learn what they see, not what we tell them to do.

Good parenting involves modeling good behaviors. We have to know how to behave, so our kids will too.

Daniel Adatto, BCBA



No comments:

Post a Comment