By Julia Cook
Anger is an emotion that is felt by everyone. Some people experience anger to a greater degree than others, but everyone has symptoms of the anger flu floating around inside of them. Anger can be caused by many factors. Sometimes the cause of anger can be easily identified, other times it cannot.
It is very important to teach children that at times, it's ok to feel angry. It's what they choose to do with their anger that can make the difference. Bottling up anger or repressing it can have devastating health consequences. On the other hand, letting anger out in inappropriate ways can be destructive and even dangerous.
If you can teach your children how to recognize and manage their anger, and then channel it toward productive or at least acceptable outlets, they will be more successful in life.
Here are a few tips:
- Think of anger as bubbles inside of a two-liter bottle of pop. When the bottle is shaken, the amount of bubbles and the pressure inside of the bottle increase. If you carefully unscrew the top of the bottle, you can let the pressure out without losing any of the liquid (your self-control.) If you don't unscrew the cap and you keep shaking the bottle, the pressure keeps building until the bottle explodes...your cap goes flying off and you lose your self control. A flying cap can be destructive and at times, even dangerous.
- Teach your child to recognize the signs of anger onset. If a child can learn what anger feels like when it first starts, it will be easier for that child to keep his/her anger from escalating out of control. Anger starts out as an irritation. Often, a irritated child will experience physical signs of anger onset, such as increased heart rate, an adrenaline rush, warm face or ears, tightness of the jaw, tense shoulders etc. Think of anger onset as fizz in a pop bottle.
- Teach your child to control their fizz. When your child first starts to feel angry, teach him/her how to loosen their bottle cap before the pressure inside of them builds up. Techniques include:
1. Take five deep breaths.
2. Walk away and find a quiet place to sit down and relax your muscles.
3. Do the Push, Pull, Dangle (Push down on the seat of your chair while you count to ten; pull up on the seat of your chair while you count to ten; Dangle your arms at your side and feel all of your stress leave your body.)
4. Go into your room and play your music really loud.
5. If you feel the need to hit something, punch your pillow.
6. Get plenty of rest. (It's hard to control your fizz when you are tired.)
7. Eat healthy. (It's harder to control your fizz if your body doesn't feel good on the inside.
8. Never screw your bottle cap on so tight you can't loosen it. If you do your anger will build up inside and if it can't come out through your cap, it will end up making you feel sick.
Teaching your child to recognize, manage and be in control of their anger is not an easy task, but it can be done. Keep in mind, laughter is the best medicine when treating the anger flu, and do your best to hold onto your own bottle cap!
Julia Cook has a Master's degree in Elementary School Counseling. She is a national award-winning children's book author who has presented in over 700 schools across the country, regularly delivers keynote addresses at national education and counseling conferences, and has 26 published children's books. Julia's books have been referenced in such publications as Parent's Magazine, The New Yorker, and babyzone.com. In her spare time, Julia enjoys spending time with her husband and family. For more information visit www.juliacookonline.com. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com