Effective Communication: Anger Management
Anger is an extreme reaction to a situation or event. On the positive side, it acts as a signal that something important to one’s life is being threatened. It has an energizing effect, mobilizing the body for self-defense and providing the stamina to complete difficult tasks. On the other hand, anger can interfere with one’s rational thought patterns, causing impulsive behavior. It can evoke aggression. Anger is a problem when it is too common or too intense, lasts too long or disrupts relationships.
Children find it hard to understand anger. Often they are frightened by it, not only when it appears as violent explosions in others, but also when it feels out of control within themselves. As early as Preschool, children should begin to name their feelings and find appropriate ways to deal with them constructively.
Peacemakers: The New Generation, for 3-, 4-, and 5-Year-Olds (Chapter 5, pages 34-41; see below) offers several suggestions. Illustrations, songs and games can be used to explore feelings like happiness, sadness, surprise and anger. Puppets are good tools to model calmness in facing unwanted situations.
As children grow older, it is helpful to take a peaceful moment to reflect on one’s pattern of anger. What makes you angry? Why? How do you usually express anger? Is there a better way?
Guide the child in pre-planning appropriate coping strategies such as counting to ten, taking three deep breaths, or walking away. Offer effective words to use. Let the child know that anger is a tricky emotion to deal with, so one must be patient with himself as he learns the coping skills
It is also important for children to know that anger can be helpful as well as obstructive. It is anger at injustice that enables people to fight for what is right. It is feeling angry that is a clue that one needs to be wary of the people or events at play. Sometimes anger is a gift for which we can be grateful.
Journal or discuss: Using metaphors from nature, how would you describe your style of anger? Blizzard, bubbling stream, willow tree? Would you hope the child in your life would copy your style? Why or why not?
From Peacemakers: The New Generation, for Ages 3,4,and 5, p. 39
Materials: None required
Purpose: To help children find alternative ways to handle anger
Gather the children in the Circle of Peace. Say something like this:
We have been talking about feelings. One feeling that is really strong and sometimes causes trouble is Anger. Sometimes when we are very angry, we might hurt someone’s feelings or someone’s body. That is something we never want to do.
What are some things that make you angry? (If no response, suggest: Does it make you angry when it rains and Mommy says you can’t go outside? …when the dog chews your favorite book? …when there are no more cookies left in the cookie jar?)
Let me ask you this: When you are REALLY angry, is it okay to hit someone? …to kick someone? …to bite someone? NO. It is never okay to hurt someone.
When you are really angry, what is okay?
It’s okay to growl. It’s okay to stomp your feet. It’s okay to yell. “I’m feeling really angry.”
Stand up. Let’s do some things that are okay to do when you’re really, really angry. (Choose only one or two to practice each time, lest you really make the children angry.)
i. Big Bear – Growl and growl until the anger is gone, then let someone give you a bear hug.
ii. Stomping Grapes – Stomp, stomp, stomp until the anger is gone, then get a drink
iii. Hug and Jump – Hold yourself in a tight hug, jump up and down and say, “I’m so angry!” until you start to laugh.
iv. Run It Off- Find a safe place to run and run in circles until the anger is gone, then sit down and take big breaths.
v. Throw It Away – Take your anger and roll it up into a tight little ball, then throw it as far as you can. Do it again if you need to.
vi. Huff and Puff – Huff and puff and blow all your anger away.
After you get rid of your big angry feelings, go to a grown-up and tell him or her what made you angry. Ask that person to help you make it better.
Reproducible for group use only. Copyright E.T. Nedder Publishing 2004
Good News/Bad News
From Peacemakers: The New Generation, Grades 6 through 8, pp. 63-64
Materials: Newsprint and marker, video Running Free (Columbia Tri-Star) or another appropriate film which portrays varying styles of anger.
Purpose: To demonstrate the positive and negative aspects of anger.
In the Circle of Peace open the discussion with a statement in this vein: The lunchroom is closed because of remodeling. The good news is we can eat lunch outside picnic-style. The bad news is we can’t get to the lemonade
Talk about how often in life one thing can have two aspects, positive and negative. Give an example like snow on Christmas Eve. Ask for volunteers to name a good thing about that and a bad thing about it.
Label two columns on the newsprint: Good News and Bad News. Give the children the following examples and ask them to write suitable items for each under the applicable title.
· The eye doctor prescribes glasses for you.
· The principal declares a snow day.
· The TV breaks down.
· The ball game is rained out.
· There are eight people for dinner and six slices of pie.
· You have outgrown your favorite sweater.
· The family can’t afford a vacation this year.
· You are angry because the new kid in class is being teased.
Ask the children how anger can be both good and bad news. Have them explain their answers.
Add any of the following explanations under Good News that may have been omitted:
i. Anger helps us know that something is wrong.
ii. Anger prepares our bodies for self-defense.
iii. Anger can motivate us to make a difference.
iv. Anger gives us energy to act.
v. Anger gives us fortitude so we can follow through on difficult challenges.
vi. Anger can help us be good Peacemakers.
Add any if the following explanations under Bad News that may have been omitted:
i. Anger can muddle our thinking and confuse the issues.
ii. Anger can hide our true feelings of fear or sadness or disappointment.
iii. Anger can cause us to act inappropriately.
iv. Anger might last so long or be so intense that it interferes with out relationships.
v. Anger can result in violence.
vi. Anger can prevent us from being good Peacemakers.
Introduce Running Free, or another appropriate film. Tell the children to watch for displays of anger in this movie. How do the characters use their anger? Is it good news or bad news? Show the movie.
Process the activity asking questions like these:
- · Anger which is motivated by compassion and love is called Just Anger. It can lead to actions which bring peace to the world. Anger which is motivated by prejudice, hatred or selfishness is Unjust Anger. It can lead to pain and suffering. What examples of anger did you see in Running Free? Would you say they were just or unjust? What were the results of the angry feelings?
- · Lucky was justly angry at Caesar for preventing the freedom of the other horses. How did he handle his anger? What was the result? What do you think might have happened if he had used his strength to kill Caesar?
- · St. Augustine said, “Hope has two beautiful sisters, Anger and Courage.” What do you think this means? Do you think he was referring to Just Anger or Unjust Anger? Can you give an example from Running Free?
- · Is there anything in today’s world that causes you to feel Just Anger? What can you do to change it? Do you need to be older? Do you need help? Who can help you?
- Reproducible for group use only. Copyright E.T. Nedder Publisher, 2003