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Managing Time





The Teen Years





It's Okay to Be Angry

Anger is a perfectly normal emotion. Everybody gets angry, even babies. While it is normal to be angry, and necessary to express anger, how anger is expressed affects how family members feel about each other.

It is up to the parent to teach children healthy ways to express anger. If a child sees adults responding to anger by yelling, hitting or throwing objects, the child is likely to react to anger in the same way. On the other hand, if a child sees adults responding to anger by taking deep breaths, counting to ten, taking a walk, or writing down thoughts and feelings, then the child is likely to adopt some of these techniques when he becomes angry.

Anger isn't always a negative emotion. It tells family members that something is wrong and opens up the way to solve the problem by getting the attention of others in the family. Anger shows other family members that we care. We wouldn't waste the energy on someone that we didn't love. The key to making anger a positive emotion is family members responding in healthy ways to anger. Healthy responses should be adopted when children are very young, so that they grow up with the tools to handle anger in constructive ways.

It is not bad to be angry. Children shouldn't be told nice people don't get mad or nice people keep their naughty thoughts to themselves.

Learning to express feelings is the first step in handling anger in a healthy way. Parents can help children verbalize their feelings by giving names to the different emotions and letting children know that everyone has feelings. Looking at pictures of people in magazines or at a bus stop, and guessing how they are feeling from their facial expressions can help children put their feelings into words. Children also can learn to express their emotions by making faces in the mirror to reflect their different emotions, and talking about times when they have felt these emotions.

Once children can identify anger, they need help figuring out why they are angry about a particular situation. A person who knows what situations cause anger, can find ways to solve the problem. Children must be taught to find ways to calm down and think clearly about the situation. Once they are calm, they can decide what situation generates an angry feeling, what they want to do about solving the problem, and how they are going to carry out their solution. Giving children the chance to use words instead of fists can go a long way to developing positive responses to anger.

The more children see their parents responding constructively to anger, and the more opportunities they have to use healthy responses, the better chance there is of family members correcting negative responses to anger. These negative responses can destroy family relations. Instead, choose to use healthy responses that can strengthen the communications and relationships between family members.

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