DEAR DR. ROBYN
ANGER MANAGEMENT Young students: “I can calm myself down when I feel angry!” Older students/teens/adults: Recognizing and responding to anger in a healthy, appropriate way.
Dear Dr. Robyn, Sometimes, my 5-year-old girl gets so angry that she nearly explodes. My husband and I privately call her “the hurricane.” We are just not sure how to help her to calm down and keep herself from getting so mad. We find ourselves tip-toeing around so we don’t set her off. Tara S., Mountain Lakes, NJ Dear Tara, Dealing with anger is hard. That hot-headed, pent-up energy can make people act in ways that they never would behave at times when that emotion is dormant. And I’m not just talking about children— adults have this problem too! In a moment of calm, talk to your child about anger and how to best deal these tough feelings. Healthy people, including children, experience anger but instead of trying to avoid it or act on it, they manage it in productive ways. Here are some tips that can help: (1) Give words to their feelings: When we give our children the correct words to talk about their feelings, emotions go from being bottled up inside to “out” where they can be supported. “Oh! I see that you feel angry because your friend took your ball” or “I can tell that you feel hurt because
your sister isn’t listening to you.” Eventually your script will translate into skills they use! (2) Get them in touch with what happened before they got angry: If your child yelled, pushed, bit, or threw a tantrum, help them to hone in on what happened before their proverbial volcano erupted inside of them. Ask them: What happened right before you got angry? -What did you see? -What did you hear? -What did you feel? -What did you think? When children are able to learn the warning signs that trigger them, they can make adjustments to keep them calmer and less overwhelmed. (3) Teach calming techniques: There are many ways that children can release or redirect their anger so that they don’t hurt themselves
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