Managing Anger

cc_Lara604@flickrAnger is a normal human response. It may prompt us take action to help a global situation, such as a humanitarian disaster or animal cruelty but here we are talking about anger in our personal lives.

By understanding and learning to manage our own anger, we will also be able to teach our children this skill, and cope better when other people are showing anger around us. A counsellor can help you work through your anger but you can also try these methods yourself.

What makes you angry?

  • First, make a list of things that make you angry. Be honest: this technique will only help if you can really admit this to yourself.
  • Next, notice what happens to your body when you are angry. Are you a person who clenches their fists or their jaw? Or do you go very quiet?
  • Imagine you are a bottle of fizzy lemonade. If you shake it, then taking the lid off will make it explode all over the place! You need to find a way to take your lid off so there will NOT be an explosion.
  • Be sure it is anger you are feeling. If you grew up in a family where tears were frowned on, for example, you could seem to express anger when you are really feeling sad.

Is it me?

  • Look at your list. Is there anything you can do to minimise the chances of being angry in this situation or with this person?
  • If you get angry when your child is late for school, could you get up 15 minutes earlier?
  • If you get angry at being taken advantage of, could you learn to deal with those people in an assertive way?
  • If you get angry when your child misbehaves, could you try a different parenting technique?
  • If you get angry about your general situation, do you need to look at your stress levels? Read our article on Stress and Anxiety.

Change your mind

  • What thoughts go through your head when you are angry?
  • Do you think things like “Everything has gone wrong, I can’t stand it any longer, I hate my life”? Try replacing it with a thought like “It’s understandable that I feel cross about this but it is not the end of the world. How could I improve things?”
  • Make another list, this time of helpful things to say to yourself such as “You can do this” or “If I feel myself getting angry I will take a deep breath and take some time out”

Relax, don’t do it!

  • One of the ways of dispersing the anger is to learn a “quick-fix” set of relaxation techniques (see below) Take some “time out” to do these, with the added bonus that you are away from the situation for a few minutes. This is especially helpful if it is your child you are annoyed with.
  • Think about ways you can build some relaxation into your daily life.
  • Remember that exercise can be very helpful, whether it is yoga or a brisk walk
  • If you feel the anger bubbling up inside you, and you can’t get outside, disperse some of the energy by a non-harmful act such as punching a cushion or batting a balloon around the room.
  • Don’t be tempted to numb your feelings with alcohol or drugs: that just internalises your anger

Action Replay

  • If you have had an episode of anger, once you have calmed down, reflect on what you have learned.
  • What could you have done differently? What were the signs that you were getting angry?
  • Tell yourself “Every day I am working towards using my anger in a positive way” Look at yourself in the mirror when you say this. Smile! You are working towards achievement.

Angry children

  • What if your child gets angry? Instead of getting angry back you can use assertiveness to calm them down (see below) Also see our article Your Teens-Aggressive Behaviour.
  • Once they are calm, chat with them about what made them angry. Help them make their own list as suggested above. Ask what they think would help, for example being left alone for a while. See links below.
  • Are you “over-parenting” them? A common cause of child anger is when parents make a lot of cautionary or disciplinary remarks to a child, who then feels over-restricted and responds in an angry way to what they see as “molly-coddling”.
  • If your child’s anger gets out of hand and is affecting the whole family then it is time to get help from your GP

Top Tips

  • Acknowledge what makes you angry
  • See what you can do differently
  • Find ways to relax
  • Learn to be assertive. See our free online Everyday Assertiveness course
  • Teach the technique to your child
  • If necessary, see your GP for professional help

Helpful Links

Relaxation video: Simple relaxation exercises from BUPA

Website for children/teens about anger: Kidshealth

A good dose of common sense: How not to be the angry parent

Try out One Space's Everyday Assertiveness online learning course to learn more on how to manage stress, anger and frustration.

Talk online with single parenting specialists about how to deal with your anger or your child's in our Discussion area on Parenting Support.

Photo By: Lara Schneider