In my previous post, I shared with you how we are working at home on anger management. The post covered the following topics: a) How do I explain to my child what anger is and its function?; b) What does anger look like? How angry am I?; and c) Anger management activities for kids. Today I would like to share what I believe are the 8 reasons for our kids´ anger management success story. Same people, some of the same activities but, unlike in previous home interventions, a successful outcome.
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8 Reasons for our kids’ anger management success story.
- Problem Awareness. Us parents may be convinced our kid has a problem he needs to be helped with. And this doesn’t mean our kid shares our views. Our son is fully aware that the changes in his life (relocating to a new country) have created a state of frustration, anger and sometimes sadness. He talks to us about feeling angry, feeling sad and about “the thoughts that I don´t like”.
- A motivation for change. It is related to the previous point, but it is not the same. You may be aware of a problem but not motivated to change it (Dieting comes to mind! I am aware that I need to lose weight, but I’m not giving up on nice quantities of yummy food!).
So, going back to our topic, our son wants “the thoughts that make me angry and unhappy” to go away. Therefore, when I explained to him that we were going to start working on making him feel good, I had an audience fully motivated to change.
- In-depth discussion and understanding before starting the intervention. We’ve talked a lot about anger before we started working on the material I shared in last week’s post. We have relied on a book entitled “What to do when your temper flares: A kid´s guide to overcoming problems with anger“ by Dawn Huebner (Winner of 2008 Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Recipient: Self-Improvement). You can check out this book here. We are comfortable talking about anger, we know that anger is good and has a function. We are also aware that it becomes a problem when it gets out of control.
- Working as a family group, our own “mini group therapy”. We turned this intervention into a fun family activity. In the past, I would look for a quiet moment in which my son and I could be alone. This time my daughter (7 y.o.) was part of the group. It has been incredible. They both participated enthusiastically as if it was another fun family game. On more than one occasion, I tried to wrap up just to be implored for “just a little bit longer”
- Working the material in depth: reading, finding examples, role-playing, looking for even more examples! We didn´t limit ourselves to going through the 5 point anger scale and talking about the options to control it. We looked for examples in our everyday life, we role played them, and we practised the anger control activities. I can still visualize my daughter Emma excitedly explaining to Victor the Stop, Think, Go strategy: “Victor if it’s raining and you get angry because you cannot step outside to the garden you have to say NO! STOP! (wherever you see capital letters, imagine a shouty 7year-old overplaying the situation). And you have to THINK, I can still play a board game at home, or watch TV, and then GO! And you do it. Come on, now you say it yourself” All this speech happened while she was practically rubbing the exercises sheet of paper on his face. I ended up applauding her (literally!). Proud and even a bit envious, she had clearly outperformed me.
- Practising when we weren´t in an angry situation. We worked all the techniques at a time when we were all relaxed. You cannot try to “stop, think and solve” if you have not started to automate that sequence in a happy context.
- Organization of the environment. We placed both the anger scale and the anger management visual clues so as to be easily accessible.
- Personal factors. I cannot help but point out that there are certain factors that are independent of the work we have done at home. Months and years have gone by since we last tried some of the techniques that I shared in my last post. The passage of time implies that our son has further matured and has a greater ability to understand and express emotions not just because his speech has improved but also because he understands them better.
Definition of success in kids´ anger management
I shouldn’t finish this post without sharing my definition of success. Success does not mean that life is perfect and we no longer have angry and frustrating situations. Success means that, since we learnt and practised the anger management activities:
1) My son has spontaneously resorted to the scale to explain how he feels: “Look mom, first I was in number 1 because you started preparing soup, then I went up to number 2 because you did not let me suck the leftover broth from the carton, and then I went up to 3 because I thought about X” (a person he does not like)”
The scale has provided him with a tool to express how he feels. Not simply to say I am angry but to share how he moves up and down in his perceived sense of frustration and why.
2) We have added anger control activities that we didn´t previously know to our repertoire, and what is more important, they seem to be working so far.
3) We have successfully returned to activities that we had somehow forgotten or that had not worked for us in the past. So do not give up on things just because they did not work in the past. Maybe it was just not the right time.
Would you like to download the 17 Kids Anger Management Activities pdf? Click the link below:
And do not forget to check the post “17 Kids Anger Management Activities” as it also includes information about: a) How do I explain to my child what anger is and its function? and b) What does anger look like? How angry am I?
Let me know about your stories. I would be happy to hear what has worked for you?
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