Anger Management Techniques for Children and Adults
Anger is a common emotion. It can be a side-effect of many other emotions such as shame, discomfort, or disagreement. Unchecked anger can be very dangerous for both yourself and those around you.
The causes and effects of anger have led to a rising interest in the concept of anger management. While anger is a natural feeling that can never truly be “eliminated,” a reasonable way to address anger is through anger management techniques.
Why Manage Anger
When the consequences of anger are discussed, it can quickly lead to extreme examples, such as fistfights or even murder. However, anger can also manifest in small-yet-significant ways.
For example, modern individuals are facing never before seen levels of stress. This can be caused by a toxic work environment, peer pressure at school, and negative social interactions (including on social media).
In addition, dissatisfaction with the government has grown by leaps and bounds in the 21st-century. In fact, the number of those who feel “angry” towards the government has doubled in just over twenty years from 12% to 24%.
On top of that, the intimidating modern financial landscape is often considered a constant stressor. With millennials possessing just 3% of total U.S. wealth (compared to Baby Boomers who had seven times that number at the same age), the cost of paying rent and keeping food on the table can be a constant cause of anxiety and stress — both of which can ultimately lead to displays of anger.
Anger can, and often does, manifest in classic situations like using a punching bag or screaming into a pillow. This kind of behavior typically doesn’t leave an individual much worse for the wear.
However, if you or your child leave your anger unchecked long enough, it may bubble up at a supremely inopportune moment. You may find yourself suddenly yelling at someone in the store, your child may become physically violent at another’s house and recklessly damage property, or in the worst-case scenario, either you or your child may even physically assault someone.
This kind of behavior has emotional, physical, and legal repercussions, all of which can significantly impact your life. In order to avoid such a situation from occurring, it’s important that you take steps to curb your anger and learn to understand and control your emotions now.
Below are five steps that you should carefully consider in order to regain some inner peace and avoid any unpleasant anger-driven scenarios in the future.
It’s very difficult to manage something that you don’t understand. Anger is an emotional response that triggers the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fear, anxiety, and anger. These three feelings can quickly block out a rational response and lead to an animalistic reaction.
If you want to head off these fight-or-flight mental responses, it’s important that you take the time to identify what things trigger your anger. You can start to do this by leaning on hindsight at first. As you look back on previous angry encounters and find things that negatively stir your emotions, you can begin to look for them proactively in future activities.
Some triggers for both parents and children include:
- Bullies at school.
- An unsympathetic teacher.
- Peer pressure.
- Harsh or competitive coworkers.
- Traffic jams.
- Long lines at the store.
- Aggressive or snarky comments.
- Excessive or chronic exhaustion.
As you identify things that you think may be consistently causing you to feel angry, remember that these aren’t necessarily the enemy. They’re simply external circumstances that you or your child are reacting to. However, being aware of them opens up the door to take further steps to manage your anger.
Recognize Warning Signs
Anger may feel like it strikes suddenly and without notice, but there are usually a few signs that can tip off the fact that an emotional outburst is brewing. For instance, you may find:
- Your heart begins to beat faster.
- Your face flushes and your temperature starts to boil.
- Your muscles tense in your back, neck, hands, or jaw.
- You begin tapping your hand, twitching, or even pacing.
- You fixate on an issue.
- You begin to rationalize negative sentiment or think about revenge.
- You engage in an inner dialogue that justifies potential behavior.
Looking out for these signs can help you gain further rational control over an otherwise purely emotion-driven reaction.
Learn Ways To Cool Down
Identifying anger is a critical first step, but simply understanding won’t necessarily stop you from expressing your anger inappropriately. Once you’ve gained a deeper understanding of your triggers, motivations, and reactions, it’s time to look for ways to cool down.
A few examples of cool-down methods include:
- Rearranging your day or schedule: While you shouldn’t bend over backward to dodge circumstantial stress, you can often make small adjustments in a school or workday in order to avoid trigger scenarios.
- Taking deep breaths: Sometimes a direct physical response can be the best option. Take long, deep breaths in order to slow yourself down and give yourself time to think.
- Conducting a head-to-toe self-evaluation: When you realize you’re reacting in an angry manner, take stock of the current state of your body and try to physically relax each area from the tip of your head all the way to your toes.
Cooldown methods are an excellent way to respond to initial anger. It gives you control and allows you to think about how you’ll respond to a particular scenario or trigger.
If you’re struggling with chronic anger or you find it’s difficult to calm down after an angry episode, you can also look for more invested activities such as:
- Getting some exercise: Exercise can reduce adrenaline and cortisol and can also produce endorphins, all of which enable you to relax and keep your cool.
- Getting creative: Painting, building, journaling, creative writing — there are many ways to channel your anger into something creative.
- Meditating: Slowing down and focusing on the present can help you cultivate a thankful, grateful mindset, which can be the perfect antidote to anger.
Behaviors like these provide an outlet to channel your passion and energy into something positive. They can help you to retain control over your mind and manage your emotions.
When To Consider Getting Help
It’s okay to tackle your anger management on your own at first. However, if you find that you simply cannot produce positive results, there may come a time when you should consider getting help.
At first, this can be a close friend or family member that you’re willing to confide in. Simply talking through things, processing together, and gleaning insights from a third party may be enough.
You can also look for a therapist or counselor if you feel confidential yet professional help will be more effective.
And, of course, it’s always wise to get legal counsel as soon as possible in the event that an angry outburst leaves you or your child with emotional abuse, damaged property, assault and battery, or any other anger-driven legal situation.
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