Amber Alert

Helping Families Manage Anger

Angry Children, Worried Parents: Helping Families Manage Anger

Parents worry when their children struggle with anger. Angry feelings and behavior can be especially challenging for children who have learning and attention problems. To help parents address this problem, Sam Goldstein, Ph.D., Robert Brooks, Ph.D., and Sharon Weiss, M.Ed. have teamed up to co-author a new book, Angry Children, Worried Parents: Seven Steps to Help Families Manage Anger (Specialty Press, 2004). This practical book presents a step-by-step program to help parents understand the causes of anger in children and to design a program to help their children learn to manage angry feelings and behavior.

What is Anger?

We all become angry at times. Anger is a natural human emotion, one of many responses we can express when we are frustrated and prevented from reaching our goals. Since anger is a universal emotion, it seems logical to conclude that there is nothing wrong with feeling angry. The problem occurs when anger leads to inappropriate actions or behavior. The problem, then, is not being angry but dealing with angry feelings in an ineffective way.

Childhood experiences as well as inborn temperament powerfully influence the way parents express anger and teach their children to manage anger. How do you respond when you’re angry? Do you become cynical or overreact? Do you yell? Do you hit your children? How did your parents respond to you when you were angry as a child? Did they punish you? Did they shame or blame you? Do you have a tough time dealing with anger because your parents didn’t know how to deal with it?

We choose to view anger as a signal, an indication to the individual that a goal or outcome is being blocked and that frustration is building. How children — or adults, for that matter — learn to respond to this signal will determine ultimately whether they manage anger or anger manages them. In response to anger, some blame others as the source of their problems. They use anger as fuel to drive and justify what they view as a necessary response. Yet anger is best viewed as a signal to take action rather than a sign of being treated unfairly.

What Role Does Anger Play in Everyday Life?

Anger begins as an emotion of varying intensity. It can be experienced as a mild irritation or as unbearable frustration. At the extreme end, particularly for children who are impulsive or inflexible, anger often leads to intense fury and rage. As with other emotions, anger is accompanied by physical and biological changes in the body. Heart rate and blood pressure increase. Levels of certain hormones, such as adrenaline, increase, leading to other physical changes in the body. Some researchers have suggested that aggression in response to anger may be instinctual. They believe that anger may be a natural, adaptive response to stress, allowing people to respond to a perceived threat and defend themselves. Therefore, a certain amount of anger is likely necessary for survival, even in our complex, civilized society. But when defense occurs in the absence of true provocation, anger becomes a liability. It also becomes a liability when we react verbally or physically in an extreme way to angry feelings, when children are unable to modulate anger, or when problems occur at home, on the playground, and in the classroom.

Teaching Anger Management

The goal of teaching children anger management is to reduce excessive reactions when angry and to develop skills to use anger as a signal to redirect their behavior. As with learning to swim or ride a bicycle, as you begin to work with your child it is important to be patient. Not all children learn to swim in the first lesson or master riding a bicycle that first day. Some children require much longer periods of practice to develop proficiency.

Keep in mind also that some children are born more likely to be irritable and easily angered. These symptoms usually appear at an early age. Yet, it is also important to remember that some children behave this way because they live in households in which they are exposed to models of poor anger management. Some children experience both risks, leading to a significant probability that they will struggle to learn to manage anger effectively. Some of these children may require professional help.

The primary goal is to help children and adolescents express anger in an assertive rather than aggressive manner. This means they are neither pushy nor demanding, but learn to be respectful advocates for themselves. This also means that they learn to cope with, not simply suppress, their anger. Suppression is only a partially effective strategy. When angry feelings are suppressed they often emerge later on, usually in an excessive way in response to a minor event related to an earlier anger-provoking experience. Suppressed anger is also thought to contribute to passive-aggressive behavior such as getting back at people indirectly without telling them why or confronting them directly. It also fuels cynical or hostile behavior, leading children to be excessively critical and fault-finding.

Anger Management Strategies

There are steps parents can take to help their children deal more comfortably, effectively, and adaptively with anger. These interrelated steps include:

1. Serve as appropriate models for your children. Remember that children don’t always do what we say. They are more often likely to do what we do. Thus, a key component of teaching anger management is for you, the adult, to manage anger and model effective anger coping strategies for your children.

2. Be empathic. As you teach your children to express anger constructively, place yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself such questions as:
“Am I speaking to my children so they will learn from me rather than resent me?”
“Would I want anyone to speak with me the way I am speaking with my children?”

If we do not consider our children’s perspective, we are likely to say or do things that may actually work against helping our children learn to deal constructively with anger.

3. Involve your child as much as possible in the process of dealing effectively with anger. Even young children can be engaged in a discussion that includes consideration of:
a. what makes us angry.
b. what are different options for dealing with anger.
c. what might be the consequence of each option, and
d. what option might be most effective.

When we enter into such a dialogue, we reinforce the belief in children that they can learn to control anger rather than have anger control them. This provides a sense of ownership, self-discipline, and resilience.

4. Remember the adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Engage in prevention and “planned parenting.” Notice when certain situations are especially difficult or frustrating for your child and prepare a “plan of action” in advance. For example, if your child gets frustrated when going into a store, wishing to have every item in sight, you can say before going in, “You can select one item. You let me know which one you would like to have.” If even this kind of preparation does not work, it may be a signal that your child is not yet ready to accompany you in the store. Or, if your child “fights” about going to bed and you find yourself trying to cajole him for an hour, it might be helpful to provide your child a sense of ownership and avoid a struggle by saying, “Do you want me to remind you 10 minutes or 15 minutes before bedtime that it’s time to get ready?” Prevention also involves providing clear and realistic expectations, following a flexible but predictable structure, and being consistent.

5. Discipline in a way that lessens frustration and anger and reinforces self-discipline. All parents can become frustrated, at times, with their children, but when parents respond to their children’s anger by screaming, yelling, or spanking, they are unintentionally reinforcing the very behaviors they wish to stop. A parent who screams or spanks is communicating such messages as: “We handle frustration through anger,” or “As long as I am bigger than you are, it’s okay for me to shout and hit.” Parents who remain calm while disciplining, who have clear expectations, who use realistic, natural, and logical consequences, and who remember that discipline is a teaching process, will lessen outbursts of anger in their children, while reinforcing self-control.

6. Show your children unconditional love and spend “special times” with them. While these behaviors can be placed under the heading of “prevention” (step Four), we believe that they are so important they deserve their own section. When parents accept their children and show them unconditional love, children are less likely to become very frustrated or intensely angry. When parents spend time alone with each of their children in such activities as playing with them, reading to them at bedtime, going out for snack or to a game, they have opportunities to develop a positive relationship. Such a relationship will provide the foundation for teaching children self-discipline and assisting them in managing frustration and anger constructively.

Even in the best functioning families, children may be angry at times with parents. Parents may be angry with children and children may experience anger regarding other issues or people outside of the home. The key issue is how we choose to deal with our angry feelings as parents, and how effective we are at helping our children develop strategies to learn to manage anger. We believe that one of the most important tasks of parenting is to help children become skilled at anger management.

Adapted from Angry Children, Worried Parents by Sam Goldstein, Ph.D., Robert Brooks, Ph.D., and Sharon K. Weiss, M.Ed.

Learn to Be an Advocate

The mission at Wrightslaw is to help parents and guardians gain the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the confusing and changing world of special education, IEPs, education law, disabilities, and advocacy.

Family Minute #22

What’s life really all about?

In his book, Quiet Strength, NFL Head Coach Tony Dungy says that winning Super Bowl XLI was not the ultimate victory and life’s not all about football. It’s not how many wins you have in your column. He says “It’s about the journey... the lives we can touch, the legacy we can leave, and the world we can change for the better.”

It’s the journey that matters. Learning is more important than the test. The process... more important than the product.

Remember your family first.

What Cartoon Character Are You?

Everyone has a personality of a cartoon character. Have you ever asked yourself what cartoon character do you most resemble?

A group of investigators got together and analyzed the personalities of well-known and modern cartoon characters. The information that was gathered was made into this test. Answer all the questions with what describes you best, add up all your points (which are next to the answer that you choose) at the end and look for your results.

1) Which one of the following describes the perfect date?
(a) Candlelight dinner (4 pts.)
(b) Fun/Theme park (2 pts.)
(c) Painting in the park (5 pts.)
(d) Rock concert (1 pt.)
(e) Going to the movies (3 pts.)

2) What is your favorite type of music?
(a) Rock 'n Roll (2 pts.)
(b) Alternative (1 pt.)
(c) Soft Rock (4 pts.)
(d) Country (5 pts.)
(e) Pop (3 pts.)

3) What type of movies do you prefer?
(a) Comedy (2 pts.)
(b) Horror (1 pt.)
(c) Musical (3 pts.)
(d) Romance (4 pts.)
(e) Documentary (5 pts.)

4) Which one of these occupations would you choose if you could only choose one?
(a) Waiter (4 pts.)
(b) Professional Sports Player (5 pts.)
(c) Teacher (3 pts.)
(d) Police (2 pts.)
(e) Cashier (1 pt.)

5) What do you do with your spare time?
(a) Exercise (5 pts.)
(b) Read (4 pts.)
(c) Watch television (2 pts.)
(d) Listen to music (1 pt.)
(e) Sleep (3 pts.)

6) Which one of the following colors do you like best?
(a) Yellow (1 pt.)
(b) White (5 pts.)
(c) Sky Blue (3 pts.)
(d) Dark Blue (2 pts.)
(e) Red (4 pts.)

7) What do you prefer to eat right now?
(a) Snow (3 pts.)
(b) Pizza (2 pts)
(c) Sushi (1 pt.)
(d) Pasta (4 pts.)
(e) Salad (5 pts.)

8) What is your favorite holiday?
(a) Halloween (1 pt.)
(b) Christmas (3 pts.)
(c) New Year (2 pts.)
(d) Valentine's Day (4 pts)
(e) Thanksgiving (5 pts.)

9) If you could go to one of these places, which one would it be?
(a) Paris (4 pts.)
(b) Spain (5 pts.)
(c) Las Vegas (1 pt.)
(d) Hawaii (4 pts.)
(e) Hollywood (3 pts.)

10) With which of the following would you prefer to spend time?
(a) Someone smart (5 pts.)
(b) Someone attractive (2 pts.)
(c) Someone who likes to party (1 pt.)
(d) Someone who always has fun (3 pts.)
(e) Someone very sentimental (4 pts.)

Now add up your points and find out the answer you have been waiting for.

(10-16 points) You are Garfield: You are very comfortable, easygoing; and you definitely know how to have fun, but sometimes you take it to an extreme. You always know what you are doing and you are always in control of your life. Others may not see things as you do, but that doesn't mean that you always have to do what is right. Try to remember your happy spirit may hurt you or others.

(18-22 points) You are Snoopy: You are fun, cool and popular. You always know what's in and you never are out of style. You are good at knowing how to satisfy everyone else. You have probably disappeared for a few days more than once, but you always come home with the family values that you learned. Being married and having children are important to you, but only after you have had your share of fun times.

(22-28 points) You are Arnold : You have lots of friends and you are also popular, always willing to give advice and help out a person in need. You are very optimistic and you always see the bright side of things. Some good advice: Try not to be too much of a dreamer. If not,you will have many conflicts with life.

(29-34 points) You are Sponge Bob Square Pants: You are the classic person that everyone loves. You are the best friend that anyone could ever have and never want to lose. You never cause harm to anyone and they would always understand your feelings. Life is a journey, it's funny and calm for the most part. Stay away from traitors and jealous people then you will be stress free.

(35-42 points) You are Charlie Brown: You are tender, you fall in love quickly but you are also very serious about all relationships. You are a family person. You call your Mom every day. You have many friends and may occasionally forget a few birthdays. Don't let your passion confuse you with reality.

(43-50 points) You are Dexter: You are smart and definitely a thinker. Every situation is fronted with a plan. You have a brilliant mind. You demonstrate very strong family principles. You maintain a stable routine but never ignore a bad situation when it comes.

My answers today, 5/15/2008, (I think answers can change depending on mood and circumstances of the day):
1) A.
2) C.
3) A. They didn't list my favorite type of movie. I prefer adventure.
4) C. I am a teacher.
5) B.
6) E. My favorite color is not listed. I prefer navy blue.
7) E.
8) B.
9) E.
10) E.
My total is 37 points which makes me Charlie Brown.

Tell me what cartoon character describes you.

Thankful Thursday #8

This week I am thankful for...

  • the selling of the swing set because I really needed the cash to pay bills.
  • my children not being mad because I sold the swing set.
  • the sweet homemade cards my kids gave to me for Mother's Day.
  • the even sweeter singing of "Happy Birthday" on the phone for a friend.

Computer Tips # 9 - Email Ettiquette

Important information for Forward Junkies

Almost all emails that ask you to add your name and forward on to others are just cookie tracking emails. This is how telemarketers and spammers get email addresses. Any time you see an e-mail that says forward this on to your friends, sign this petition, etc. It most probably has an email tracker program attached. It will track you're email as well as all the people you forward to. Many times the original host sender gets a copy each time the email is forwarded so they know what email addresses are active. Then the host will use these active email addresses to harass you with spam &/or to sell your name & email address to the highest bidder.

Check it out:

This is one reason I don't open (and read) forwarded emails.

Happy Relationships

Today's Affirmation: My happiness is not dependent on my relationships.

What Does Your Taste in Music Say About You?

What Your Taste in Music Says About You

Your musical tastes are upbeat and conventional.

You are an easy going, optimistic person.

Family and friends are very important to you.

You enjoy caring for and helping other people.

You thrive in a tranquil environment, and you do your best to keep things peaceful.

You enjoy your life. You have your priorities straight.

Works for Me Wednesday #3

To remove old wax from a glass candle holder, put the candle holder in the freezer for a few hours. Then take the candle holder out and turn it upside down. The wax will fall out. For more stubborn wax, use a knife to help loosen the wax after doing the above steps.

Check out more tips at Rocks in My Dryer at

Around the 'Net - The Knot

The Knot

With June just around the corner, wedding season is upon us. Check out The Knot where you can find all sorts of wedding information, a personal planner, and budgets. There is even help with the gown selection. You can manage your guest list and get pointers on writing thank-you notes. Worried about committing the ultimate social faupax? ‘Ask Carley’ covers it all with close to 1,000 etiquette questions answered. This site certainly makes saying ‘I do’ go a lot smoother.

Wordless Wednesday #11

Goals of a Good IEP

If you begin the IEP process by trying to find generic "good goals," you will probably fail because the goals won’t relate to your child's unique needs.
Your child's IEP must include:

  • a statement of your child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance;
  • a statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, designed to meet all of the child's needs that result from the disability;
  • a description of how your child's progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured, and when parents will receive periodic progress reports;
  • a description of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services the school will provide the child;
  • a statement of appropriate accommodations to measure the child's academic and functional performance on state and district tests; and
  • a statement of the date for beginning services, frequency, location, and duration of services and modifications.

25 Reasons I am Proud of Being a Single Parent

As a single parent, I have much to feel proud of. When struggling, emotionally or physically, I forget about all the things I do each day just so my children and I will have a fruitful life.

  1. I'm on call 24/7.
  2. I make sure the kids are up in time to get ready for school each morning.
  3. I kiss every boo-boo.
  4. I recognize my children as uniquely gifted and valuable individuals.
  5. I tuck them in at night and make sure they're getting enough rest.
  6. I plan every birthday celebration, Easter celebration, 4th of July celebration, Christmas celebration, New Year's celebration, and all the other holidays & surprises we celebrate just by being together.
  7. I make breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.
  8. I help my children with their homework.
  9. I have created a warm and loving home.
  10. I am the one who gets up at night when they're sick.
  11. I am the one who misses work to take care of them.
  12. I have taught them the value of friendship.
  13. I plan fun activities.
  14. I am teaching them the value of hard work.
  15. I am teaching them the value of money by spending carefully.
  16. I help my children make good decisions on a daily basis.
  17. I answer all their questions.
  18. I read to them.
  19. I keep an eye on how much TV they watch.
  20. I am teaching them to be organized in every aspect of their lives.
  21. I am teaching them the difference between "wants" and "needs."
  22. I have taught them be responsible for themselves.
  23. I demonstrate resilience and determination every day.
  24. My children know they're loved.
  25. My children love me.

Thought of the Day - 5/13/08

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
~~ Author Unknown ~~

I am a Christian

When I say, "I am a Christian."
I'm not shouting "I'm clean living."
I'm whispering "I was lost." Now I'm found and forgiven.

When I say, "I am a Christian."
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble and need CHRIST to be my guide.

When I say, "I am a Christian."
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak and need HIS strength to carry on.

When I say, "I am a Christian."
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed and need GOD to clean my mess.

When I say, "I am a Christian."
I'm not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too visible but GOD believes I am worth it.

When I say, "I am a Christian."
I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartaches so I call upon HIS name.

When I say, "I am a Christian."
I'm not holier than thou. I was just a simple sinner who received God's good grace, somehow.

~~ Maya Angelou ~~

5 Things About This Mom

Her thoughts on me...

1. I am a caring.
2. I am a single mother.
3. I am generous in my heart... go out of my way to help others the best way I know how.
4. I am loyal to my children and friends.
5. I am creative... check out my scrapbooking at

Family Minute #21

Is your child getting enough sleep?

You know that when your child stays up too late, she is tired and unfocused the next day. New research by Harvard Medical School provides another reason why your student needs plenty of sleep. Inadequate sleep impairs the hippocampus -- the part of the brain that creates new memories. That means your child will have a harder time learning new concepts if she's not fully rested. Even though your little night owl wants to stay up late, make sure she gets to bed early so she can get the most out of her education.

Remember your family first.

Make Me Laugh Monday - Save the Chicken

Happy Mother's Day

To all the soon-to-be mother's, birth mothers, adoptive mothers, grandmothers, foster mothers, single mothers, and mothers around the world... Happy Mother's Day!

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