Managing anger can be one of the most difficult things as it sometimes seems that anger as an emotion takes over and then dictates an individual’s actions…and this experience can be even more difficult for a child to regulate as their cognitive development is not fully mature.
When a child or adult is angry and the emotion reaches a certain level – no amount of reasoning can take place and individuals simply stop listening and become reactive. When this happens the thinking part of the brain switches off and the emotion part takes over due to the high amount of adrenalin released.
While some people reach this flash point or reactive level of anger relatively quickly, other people seem to have a larger tolerance, and this difference is often a result of a combination of both genetics and environment.
So how can anger be managed better?
- First it’s important to understand that anger is an emotion, and like any other emotion, it’s neither good nor bad…it just is! It’s never emotion that causes problems but the behaviour that is associated with it.
- Depersonalising the emotion – Anger can be viewed as something (using the metaphor of a beast) that’s in everyone and can therefore be managed. (A. L. Al-Ghani does this really well in a picture book called The Red Beast, which is written specifically for managing anger in children with Asperger’s Syndrome; however, the principle can be adapted and applied to others).
- Understanding and linking how your body feels as anger increases in intensity.
- Identifying triggers and if possible managing these more effectively – common ones include changes to routine, lack of sleep, stress, diet/hydration and alcohol/drug use.
- Using a physical release (e.g. exercise) to expel pent up energy.
- Working out a way to express the anger that doesn’t: hurt others, self or property (e.g. talking, writing, drawing, creating, playing sport etc.).
However if you or your children are finding managing anger difficult, at Attuned we have Psychologists that can work with you and/or your child to identify triggers and plan an approach to assist in managing anger. We offer counselling and psychotherapy and can implement an intervention specifically designed and tailored to meet you or your child’s unique needs.
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