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Anger Management Strategies for Kids
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Anger Management Strategies for Kids









Our
children are facing much more pressing types of daily stresses than most of us
ever dealt with in our childhood. Just think of the kinds of horrific images
our kids are exposed to on the nightly news: riots, hate crimes, random
shootings, bombings, kidnappings, senseless murders. We're also seeing a
troubling increase in bullying, name-calling, and prejudicial slurs among
schoolchildren. Do these issues affect our children? "You bet they
do," says Dr. Michele Borba, author of the new book, Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach
Kids to Do the Right Thing
(Jossey-Bass Publishers, July 2001).



 



style='font-family:"Times New Roman"'>"The single greatest trend I've seen
as a consultant to hundreds of schools over the past ten years," Borba
says, "is the marked increase in anxiety and anger in our children. We
shouldn't kid ourselves: the steady onslaught of stress and violence images is
taking a major toll on our children's emotional and moral well-being."



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style='font-family:"Times New Roman"'>What can parents do? Teach children the
critical virtue of self-control so they know how to handle their emotions
appropriately when faced with frustrations. In Building Moral Intelligence, Borba gives parents the following five
strategies to teach children self-control so they can calm down and learn to
handle their anger.



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style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'> style='font-family:"Times New Roman"'>1. Model coolness when facing problems. style='font-family:"Times New Roman"'>Showing you can keep your cool, even in
crisis, is an important way to help your children learn self-control. You send
a clear message: "It may look
like a crisis, but by staying cool, I'll be in a better position to solve the
problem." Example is always the best teacher: "I need to take a deep
breath and stay cool before I call the bank. I can't understand how my account
is so overdrawn."



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font-family:"Times New Roman"'>2. Develop a feeling vocabulary.
font-family:"Times New Roman"'>Many kids display aggression because they
simply don’t know how to express their frustrations any other way. They need an
emotion vocabulary to express how they feel, and you can help your child
develop one by creating a "feeling word" poster together. Here are a
few: angry, upset, mad, frustrated, agitated, furious, apprehensive, tense,
nervous, anxious, irritated, furious, ticked off, irate, incensed. Write them
on a chart, hang it up, and when your child is angry, use the words so that he
can apply them to real life: "Looks like you’re really angry. Want to talk
about it?" Then keep adding emotion words to the list whenever new ones
come up in those great "teachable moments" that come up throughout
the day.



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mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>font-family:"Times New Roman"'>3. Identify anger-warning signs.mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>
Explain to your child
that we all have our own little signs that warn us we’re getting angry, and
that we should listen to them because they can help us stay out of trouble.
Next, help your child recognize what specific warning signs she may have that
tell her she’s starting to get upset. For example, "I talk louder. My
cheeks get flushed. I clench my fists. My heart pounds. My mouth gets dry. I
breathe faster. "Once she is aware of her signs, start pointing them out
to her whenever she first starts to
get frustrated: "Looks like you’re starting to get out of control."
"Your hands are in a fist now. Do you feel yourself starting to get
angry?" The more we help kids recognize those early warning signs when
their anger is first triggered -- usually when they first show signs of tension
and stress -- the better able they will be to calm themselves down and learn to
regulate their own behavior.mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>



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style='font-family:"Times New Roman"'>4. Use self-talk to stay in control.
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Experts suggest that
another way to help kids stay in control is to teach them to say
affirmations-simple, positive messages-to themselves in stressful situations.
Here are a few kids that can learn: "Stop and calm down," "Stay
in control," "Take a deep breath," and "I can handle
this." Suggest a few phrases to your child, then have her choose the one
she feels most comfortable saying; help her rehearse it a few times each day.
You might post the words she chooses throughout the house as a reminder. The
more your child practices the affirmation, the greater the likelihood she will
use it during a difficult situation in which she needs to stay cool and in
control.



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style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'> style='font-family:"Times New Roman"'>5. Teach abdominal breath control. style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>
Learning to breathe the
right way -- especially in stressful situations -- is one of the most effective
ways to stay in control, and so it’s an important technique to teach kids.
Experts advise you to teach the relaxation method with your child sitting in a
comfortable position, her back straight and pressed into a chair for support.
Then show your child how to inhale slowly to a count of five ("one Mississippi,
two Mississippi," and so on), pause for two counts, and then slowly
breathe out the same way, again counting to five. Repeating the sequence
creates maximum relaxation. The trick
is to help your child learn to breathe very slowly and deeply and then practice
it over and over in a calm, relaxed setting so that she can remember to use the
technique during a stressful time.



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style='font-family:"Times New Roman"'>Teaching kids to use self-control is just
one of the many attributes of Dr. Borba's new book. The book covers this and


literally hundreds of other ideas, stories, techniques, tips, and parenting
strategies to help parents build moral strength in their children. Borba's
practical, step-by-step advice will guide parents along their most important
role: raising good, moral human beings.








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