Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Have Anger Issues With Anger Issues - Part 2: Emotionally Speaking

In the last post I voiced my concern over 'anger issues'.  I believe that it is an over-used catch phrase.  I have found that we expect kids to be able to act a certain way just because someone tells them they should know better.  Or, that a school has rules and students should know right from wrong-- or face the consequences.  Like it just magically happens.

Here is what I think:  Behavior concerns are a lot like Academic concerns.  There is either a skill deficit or something going on with skill fluency.  With academics, we usually provide the supports necessary to remediate and help the student along.  When dealing with behavior which stems from emotions the whole tangled ball is quite a challenge. 

Here is what I try to do to help kids as well as collaborate with Teachers and Parents:

Be Aware
Learn to recognize the signs of your anger.  Anger is an emotional signal that warns something is wrong and needs to be addressed.

Positive Emotional Expression
It is okay to have angry emotions.  Some kids are taught that anger is bad.  That is not true.  It all pivots on the manner in which it is conveyed. Take responsibility for your actions and emotions.  Blaming will not help.  In fact, it will probably escalate the situation.  Use "I" statements to help claim ownership of the situation.  (Here is an example from The Responsive Classroom).

Healthy Strategies
Our students need help with this.  This includes practiced repitition, encouraging feedback, and nuanced refinement. There are some things that sound easy to do- like counting to 10 and taking deep breaths- but are really, really difficult to actually do during the heat of the moment.  These things seem to help some folks, so give it a whirl and see how it works for you.  If those don't seem to help try removing yourself from the situation.  Give yourself a Mantra.  Go do something you enjoy.  Talk to someone you trust.  Draw. Go run in the gym.  Shoot hoops. (I am not a big fan of hitting a pillow, or anything like that.  Instead, squish clay or kneed dough).

There are lots of resources out there which can be of great help to you as you help the young  people in your life.  Explore.  Try new things.  Find what works for you.  Here are a few ideas:  Angry Animals 2 board game, free Feeleez feelings coloring sheets, Managing Your Anger: What's Behind It? poster, Howard B. Wigglebottom animated book, and book reviews by Roxanne at Books That Heal Kids on Anger. What books, games, activities do you like to put to use?  Please share.

One last thing. This is important.  All these strategies and interventions are good. What I think is most essential, though, is to carve out your own thought process/belief system/philosophy that works personally for you in regards to how the process of change occurs.  It is all about taking a situation from where it currently is and helping it evolve to where you aspire to be.  This is a slow, gradual process.  Here is an old post which lays out The Process Of Change for me.  What do you hang your hat on when it comes to Shifting Yourself?

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