angry smile

When Your Kids Don’t Answer You Until You Scream



For more information on how to confront and change passive aggressive behavior at home, in school and in the workplace, please check out The Angry Smile text or register for our online training at

The Angry Smile at CPI’s Trainer Conference in New Orleans


This week, I had the honor and pleasure of traveling to one of my favorite cities–New Orleans, LA– to present at the CPI Conference on The Angry Smile and strategies for understanding and changing passive aggressive behavior. This article summarizes some of what I shared with this great group of professionals.

Also, check out the LSCI Institute’s online training based on The Angry Smile, which we proudly partner with CPI to present to professionals and parents everywhere.


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Strategies for Managing Passive Aggressive Behavior in the Workplace


This week, INC Magazine online published a nice feature article about passive aggressive behavior at work, featuring several strategies from my first book (co-written with Drs. Nicholas & Jody Long) The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools and Workplaces,  Check it out here:


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New Review of How to Be Angry


A middle school Special Education teacher from Wisconsin recently reviewed my book, How to Be Angry, on her blog, Half-Past Kissin’ Time and on Amazon.  She has some great insights about using the book with tweens and teens.  Please check her review out here:


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The Angry Smile Online Training Teaches People How to Manage Passive Aggressive Behavior


The Angry Smile ONLINE course is NOW AVAILABLE via the Life Space Crisis Intervention Institute’s website!  See below for a very special offer…


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Is there a person in your life who procrastinates, carries out tasks in intentionally inefficient ways, is quietly manipulative, creates minor but chronic irritation in others, and makes you feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster? If so, you may be working or living with a PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE person.



REGISTER TODAY FOR THE ANGRY SMILE ONLINE TRAINING to discover how to stop frustrating arguments, endless conflict cycles, and relationship-damaging wars of words.



10% DISCOUNT: All participants who register for The Angry Smile Online course during the month of August 2013 will receive a 10% discount on the course fee! Simply enter the code FACEBOOK at checkout and the discount will be applied upon checkout. 




Feedback on How to Be Angry from Elementary School Students


Six students from the Freetown Elementary School in Maryland recently completed the How to Be Angry curriculum.  They were kind enough to share with me their feedback on the activities, lessons, and games and gave me permission, in turn, to share it with you!  Special thanks to Aimee Meyer, their teacher who led the lessons, and all of the kids who are such gracious and enthusiastic learners!


Most important thing I’ve learned so far …

  •   “Bullies are not cool.”
  •   “I learned how to use I messages instead of you messages all the time.” 
  •   “I learned about passive-aggressive behavior.  That’s what I do.” 
    • When prompted for more information, the student said “You know, like when I mope around, shuffle real slow down the hall, soft-talk and work real slow or not at all.  Now I know how to calm down better.”
  •   “I learned that you don’t have to take things out on someone else all the time.  I only knew how to do that.”


What I have enjoyed the most about these lessons …

  • “I liked when we did the activity with putting magnets underneath the types of anger. The magnets told us what the types of anger looked like and what we could do when we feel these.” 
  • “I’m moving to different parts of the room when we gained our opinions to something. We learned how to respect others’ opinions and that it’s okay to have different opinions.”
  • “I really liked the game where we lined up by our birthday but we couldn’t talk. It was hard and we had to use our hands, fingers and faces to do it.  We learned about nonverbal communication. It’s important.”
  • “I liked how there were a lot of games. There was one at the beginning of each lesson and they were pretty fun.”


If I could improve on this book in one way I would …

  • “Add more games. They are a lot of fun and active.”
  • “Give the kids a workbook so they each have their own.”
  • “Add pictures and colors to the worksheets or a Kid’s Workbook.”


Note for Educators:  Handouts for kids in How to Be Angry are reproducible!  You may feel free to make kids their own workbook to use as you are conducting each session.  The kids recommend it and so do I!


Thanks again, kids!


All the best–                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Signe

How to Be Angry book reviewed by Moms & Therapists


This week, two new reviews of How to Be Angry were posted on by two new readers–both Moms–one a therapist, one a manager.  I am completely honored to get this feedback from both of them:


Leslie TenBroeck writes:

As a licensed therapist (a good one) and a parent (a so-so one), I found this book helpful in all realms. I’m always on the lookout for good group therapy curriculum, at the same time, trying to help my very emotional and rigid son find new ways to manage his anger. The book is written without a lot of jargon, which I find to be a plus. This would be great for schools as well.


PA Mom writes:

I am not a therapist or a teacher. I am a mom and a manager of a large team. WOW – this book is an AMAZING tool. As soon as I started reading it, I became instantly aware of how I express anger, and how my son expresses it. But what I learned also applied to my management role. I’ve already started applying some of the principles and techniques at home and at work, and I’m amazed at the results. A little awareness goes a LONG way. And I must agree with one of the other reviewers – the confirmation that anger is healthy is really refreshing. What this book does, is help us — ALL of us — to learn how to express anger in a healthy way. Highly recommend this book!


Check out these and other reviews at:


The Angry Smile: Recognizing and Responding to Your Child’s Passive Aggressive Behavior


Amber had been giving her mother the silent treatment all week. She was angry about not being allowed to sleep over at a friend’s house. Late Thursday night, she left a note on her mother’s pillow, asking her mom to wash her uniform before Friday’s soccer game. When Amber returned home from school on Friday in a rush to pack her gear, she looked all over for her uniform. She finally found it in the washer-perfectly clean, as per her request — but still soaking wet! Amber was late for her game and forced to ride the bench.

When all was un-said and done, Amber’s mother felt defeated. Having one-upped her daughter in the conflict, it was clear to her that she had lost by winning. As parents, most of us have been in situations where traveling the low road is irresistible and we become temporarily reckless in our driving. But anytime we mirror a child’s poor behavior instead of modeling a healthier way to behave, our victories add up to long-term relationship damage and lasting hostilities.

So, what could Amber’s mother have done differently in this hostile un-confrontation? What can any parent do to avoid the agony of victory and the defeat of healthy communication? The following guidelines offer parents strategies for maintaining their calm in a passive-aggressive storm and responding in ways that lay the groundwork for less conflictual relationships with their children and adolescents.


To read more, please click the link below or visit the original post, on the Huffington Post Parents section.

Passive Aggressive Shopping: Husband vs. Wife


As we teach in The Angry Smile training, people are willing to go to great lengths to avoid expressing their anger directly…here’s a hilarious one for the passive aggressive files!


Girl Bully Meets Passive Aggressive Mom: Game On!


When I co-wrote The Angry Smile, I did not intend it to be a How-To book.  In fact, I know lots of ways to be assertive, direct, and emotionally honest with others.  But let’s face it, sometimes a situation calls for a little passive aggressive behavior

My 8-year old daughter has a frenemy.  She has known this un-friend–and experienced the girl’s on-again, off-again spitefulness–since they were in pre-school together.  The girl, in fact, is the subject of a previous article that I posted on Psychology Today back in 2010, entitled Sticks and Stones: A Little Girl’s First Experience with Bullying

Things haven’t changed much with this girl over the last four years.  At times she is delightful and I must credit her with having an uncanny knack for charming her peers and making them want to please her.  Even in her mean girl moments, she is so subtle and innocent-seeming (her extra-small stature seems to play into this) that I understand fully how she gets her covertly cruel jabs in before her targets even realize that they have been mistreated.

Unlucky for her, I study girl bullying, so I’m on to it.

My daughter is too–sort of.  On at least a dozen occasions this year, my third grader has come home from school with stories about how the frenemy mocked what she was wearing or teased her about something she had made in art.  As a spirited young upstander, my daughter is even more impassioned when she describes how the frenemy relentlessly bullies a classmate with special needs–and covers it up with a sugarcoated “Just kidding!” if an adult should overhear.

Being the therapist that I am, I always try to turn these conversations into opportunities for empathy and teachable moments about coping with mean behavior, reaching out to the bullied, and seeking out kind friendships.  So, yes, I am very conscientiously teaching my daughter all of the right things to do.  And above-the-radar, I do my best to be a great role model of kindness and assertive behavior.

Anyone who never acts undignified should stop reading at this point.  Seriously–if you are compelled to lecture for a bit of misbehavior, it’s time to click away.  Believe me, I don’t need you to tell me that my actions in the following situation were wrong.  I know it.  I chose it.  That’s right–like most passive aggressive people, I was aware of what I was doing and yes, I took a little pleasure in it.  That’s why I am bothering to tell you; it’s part soul-cleansing confession, part funny-what-a-Mama-bear (or Papa bear)-will-do-to-avenge-her-young.

So, simply put, I took my daughter and her frenemy to see a movie yesterday.  Before the film, I bought them each a box of candy–Skittles for my daughter and Sour Patch Kids for the un-friend.  Both thanked me graciously.  At the end of the movie, the frenemy approached me and said the roof of her mouth was “all scratched up” from the Sour Patch Kids.

Mission accomplished.

Perhaps it’ll be harder for her to use her mouth to say mean things now.

What?  At least I didn’t send her home with a box of super-sour Sweetarts to wash it all down.




Signe Whitson is the author of Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Aged 5-11 to Cope with Bullying, in which she provides engaging activity and discussion ideas to help kids assertively (not passive aggressively!) respond to girl bullying.  For more information, please visit, Follow her on Twitter @SigneWhitson, or Like her on Facebook.

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