Monday, June 1, 2015

How to Help Kids Identify Angry Behavior

It is important to teach students that their behavior is noticed when they get angry.   When the external world and their internal world meet, or collide, will they be able to to manage their anger or will their anger manage them?  Use this article to help students:

How We Behave When We Get Angry

    When the external world and the internal world of our feelings interact, the result is our behavior.  How we behave when we get angry determines whether the anger will fade or whether it will get worse.  There are two negative responses to anger.  The first negative response is withdrawal or avoidance.  The second negative response is hostility or aggression.
      The first negative response is withdrawal or avoidance.  This is when a person does not actively deal with conflict and “goes away mad.”  The problem is not solved and the person may continue to think about it, get angry, and then eventually become depressed.
Depression and the inability to deal with one’s problems results in low sense of personal worth, a sensitivity to unpleasant events, high self-criticism and a dealing of helplessness.  These are called the passive behaviors.

      The second negative response to anger is hostility and aggression.  When we react too quickly and too intensely to feeling of anger, we become antagonistic.  This leads to more hostility which leads to more aggression.  Aggressive acts are often acts of impulse or desperation.  They may also be an attempt to overpower the other person.  These acts are called aggressive behaviors.
     Did you know that there are also positive responses to anger?  When you manage your anger, you can make some good things happen because of the anger.  This is called anger management. Anger management is the utilization of assertive skills.  It is the result of self-awareness, self-confidence, and good communication skills.

First of all, you must learn to understand your own feelings.  This takes some thinking and self-instruction.  Feelings are linked to situations.  One way to understand what feelings are linked to certain situations is to keep a diary of things that happen to you and the feeling you have at that time.  Feelings are also linked to thoughts.  When you keep your journal or diary try to link the feelings you have to the thoughts you have.  Learn to view and think of the anger-producing incidents in an objective manner.  Try not to think of what is going on, or why, with a lot of opinions.  You must try to be objective.

     You may find that sometimes your anger is unnecessary.  Unnecessary anger is often due to fatigue, pressure, conflict, and insecurity.

            Second, you must try to understand the feelings of others.  Learn to understand things from the other person’s perspective to keep anger from becoming too intense.  Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  Look at the situation from a different point of view.

        Third, you must constantly instruct yourself to get composed and help deal with the situation.  This is self-instruction.  Learn to know what your body is telling you.
    When you are tense because of a situation, you might get a headache or feel your muscles tighten.  You might feel your heart pound real hard or fast in your chest.  You may get sweaty hands or just sweat all over.  Your forehead may wrinkle and your eyebrows may become cross looking.  Some people start to breathe faster or heavier.  When these things happen, your body is releasing adrenalin.  These are signals of agitation and tension.  Your anger starts to build and so does the level of hostility you feel.  However, the anger will lessen as you start to solve the conflict.
          Anger management also involves several ways you can learn to control yourself and take control of the situation before the situation takes control of you.  One way is to learn to relax.  Use relaxation techniques.  Anger is linked with tension.  You cannot be angry and relaxed at the same time.
          Another way to manage anger is to use humor.  Don’t take things to personally when they happen.  You can learn to see humor in things.

            Anger is also managed by keeping it at a moderate level.  Use the arousal to be assertive rather than aggressive.  Communicate your angry feelings instead of acting on them.  When you feel anger, just say so and let the other person know what has made you angry.  If a person is doing something that stirs up the angry feelings in you, let him know how you are feeling with the right tone of voice and attitude.  Learn to communicate your anger in an appropriate way.  For example, it never will help in a situation if you scream or yell out your commands and demands.  You will only arouse anger in the other person you are dealing with.  You must learn to communicate your angry feelings in an effective and non-hostile way.
          Communicating effectively is the most important skill in managing anger.  Good communication helps control the build-up of anger.  It prevents an aggressive over-reaction.  It also provides the opportunity to change the situation that has caused the anger.  An effective way to communicate is to use a power statement.   (see activity on power statements)

Anger and Me is a workbook for students.  It includes articles about identifying anger and situations students and/or their friends may be a part of.  It is great for individual use or small groups.  It is reproducible, so make as many copies as you need.  It can be found on Amazon.

Grace Wilhelm is a National Board Certified Counselor with over sixteen years  experience.  She enthusiastically presents to counselors, teachers, youth workers, and parents on anger, stress, crises intervention, communication, data, counseling programs, play sessions, and more.

Find out more about Play Therapy for Schools at Counselor Games.

Grace will be presenting at the ASCA Conference in Phoenix June 29 and 30.  The session title on Monday is: Play Therapy and Stress Management for Students.  Tuesday she will be contributing in the Data presentation.  Her part will be Parent Involvement.

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