Posts tagged anger management

How to Be Angry Used in Homeschooling Program


There’s nothing that an idealistic, trying-to-change-the-world-one-child-at-a-time, do-gooder like me values more than hearing that their work is truly making a difference for others.  Yesterday, Vanessa Reinelt, a homeschooling mom of two and teacher of 4 other children, sent me this music-to-my-ears feedback:


We have been working through your “How to Be Angry” curriculum and already are seeing huge benefits. Our children (ages 10-13) are already identifying their anger and striving to express their anger assertively!  I have looked at many programs and resources trying to find an appropriate one to teach the kids about emotional and social health. None can compare to the depth and quality that yours provides.  I How to Be Angryfinalcoverabsolutely love the format you use. Teaching the 4 types of Anger Expression and with the healthiest (Assertiveness) as the last module.  I genuinely believe if we teach children about expressing…emotions in healthy ways, the human race will stand a chance in reaching the next millennium.

Thanks again for your time Ms. Whitson. You are truly a credit to your profession. Thank you for your amazing book. Your work is making the world a better place.


Thank YOU, Vanessa, for prioritizing the social and emotional health of kids!


If you’ve used How to Be Angry, Friendship & Other Weapons, The Angry Smile, or 8 Keys to End Bullying with students, please let me know how the experience has been for you!

When Parents Mirror Kids’ Behavior: The Conflict Cycle on NBC’s Parenthood

The Conflict Cycle™ is Life Space Crisis Intervention’s (LSCI) major paradigm for understanding the dynamics of escalating power struggles between adults and children. In our training courses for parents and professionals, we explain that in times of stress and conflict, kids can create in adults their feelings, and, if not trained, adults will mirror their behaviors.  In the heat of the moment, when adults do what comes naturally–what thousands of years of evolution have prepared their bodies to do–they often only make matters worse.  That is why understanding the LSCI Conflict Cycle is the first line of defense against fueling further conflict.


This clip from NBC’s Parenthood is a perfect example of how Kristina gets caught in a Conflict Cycle and inadvertently mirrors Max’s behavior, thus escalating their power struggle.  Ultimately, both mother and son lose out.  The look of defeat on her face at the end of the clip says it all.



For more information on the LSCI Conflict Cycle and training for parents and professionals, please visit the LSCI link above or visit 

The Nail in the Fence: A Story about the Scars Left by Words Said in Anger


This story, most recently posted on Sue Atkins’ (The Parenting Expert) website, reminds me of an activity I recently posted that teaches kids about the impact of bullying words.  The basic message of “The Nail in the Fence” is the same: words can wound, so use them with care. 

If you are living or working with kids and teaching important lessons about anger management, this is a great read:


The Nail in the Fence

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence.

Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.”

How to Be Angry Featured on Parenting Unplugged


I had the lovely, lively opportunity to chat with Todd and Laura Mansfield, hosts of Parenting Unplugged, about How To Be Angry and ways parents can teach their kids skills for managing intense emotions.  Have 20 minutes?  Have a listen…


You Don’t Really Feel That Way, Part 2


A few weeks ago, I posted an article by a great professional, Blogger, and founder of Kidlutions, Wendy Young.  The article was called “You Don’t Really Feel That Way, Part 1.”  

Here, Wendy posts Part 2, a follow-up piece that talks about how to validate kids’ emotional experiences and drain off their intense emotions effectively.  I love what she has to say and how well she explains the approach.  “Drain Off” is my term, not Wendy’s.  Actually, it is a Life Space Crisis Intervention term, and marks the first stage of LSCI’s six stage process of helping kids with self-defeating behaviors develop insight into their patterns and improved relationships with helping adults.

I have followed Wendy’s blogs and articles for about a year now and find myself on the same page with her time after time.  This is no exception.  I hope you’ll check out her work and, if you like it, be sure to also check out, since our training coincides so well with the kinds of thigs she is writing.


How to Help Kids Handle Big Feelings


This is a great post from Kidlutions: Solutions for Kids.  It talks about how easy it is to say the wrong thing, even when you have the right intentions…but also how simple it can be to validate a child’s big feelings and teach him or her how to cope with them.


Personally, as a mom of a girl whose intense temperament makes her a force to be reckoned with–in both good and challenging ways–I can”t wait to read the follow up Part 2!

Win a copy of How To Be Angry!


Click below to visit and register to win a free copy of my book, How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids & Teens.

How To Be Angry on ParentCentral

How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids and Teens


Best. Mail Delivery. Ever.

Just got home to find copies of my new book, How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids and Teens, on my front porch.  Please check it out here or at 

I wrote it specifically for professionals and parents to help kids learn that having angry feelings does not make you bad; it makes you human.  Learning how to effectively cope with and express those feelings in ways that enhance–rather than damage–relationships is the key.

How to Be Angry is packed with discussion-starters, games, and kid-friendly activites to help young people learn how to express their anger in assertive, relationship-building ways.  It features two chapters on standing up to bullies, as well as tips on disagreeing without arguing, making and refusing requests, and responding to others’ anger.

I hope you enjoy it…check back and let me know what you think!

What Are You Really Mad At? Using Life Space Crisis Intervention Skills to Help Kids Understand & Manage Anger


This morning, my 7-year-old daughter was playing a game on one of her favorite child-friendly websites, when all of a sudden, the computer froze. She tried practicing patience, assuming the squirrels who power our older machine were running slowly. She attempted a re-start — Mama’s trick for fixing any piece of technology. She even walked away for a bit, in an effort to soothe her frustrated nerves. Nonetheless, when I came downstairs, fresh from a shower and ready to start a great family weekend, her answer to my question of, “What would you like for breakfast, sweetpea?” was an angry “Nothing. I’m not eating. I don’t like anything we have here! Why can’t you ever buy waffles?”

Each complaining sentence was louder and more irritable than the one before it. The lingering coolness of my shower quickly heated to a hot, red flush over my cheeks. My automatic reaction was to mirror my daughter’s temperature: “What are you mad at me for?” I wanted to shout. Some of the other involuntary thoughts that rushed to my mind included:

  • Fine! Don’t eat. But don’t bother telling me you’re hungry in an hour.
  • If you don’t like what we serve for breakfast in this house, you can go without eating!
  • Why don’t you just go spend the morning in your room? I don’t deserve to be spoken to in that way.

There were a few other names and phrases that flooded my senses within the first five seconds of her Waffle Rant, but in what I would like to think of as a moment of clarity (though it was probably only a matter of me debating which unhelpful reaction to voice), I just stared at her silently. Fortunately for both of us, that moment of quiet allowed my daughter the necessary pause to regain control of her emotions and to softly say, “I’m sorry, Mama. I was just really frustrated at the computer and I took it out on you.”

From eagerness to start the day, to a flash of anger, to pride in my child’s emotional maturity (and relief that I had muted my own automatic thoughts), my emotions in that single minute of time took an intense roller coaster ride. I call it the Nothing Comes from Nothing journey.

Have you ever been in a situation with your child where “out-of-the-blue,” they seem to want to fight? You witness (and are often the recipient of) a spike of sudden and unexplained anger. Because the emotion seems unfounded (and since it is usually dumped out on you), your emotions are instantly triggered and you, too, are inspired to quick anger. A heated conflict ensues, a dent is created in your relationship, and both of you feel bewildered about the whole situation.

One of the most common self-defeating patterns of behavior among young people is this phenomena of displacement. Displacement occurs when a child takes out his anger on an unsuspecting, often undeserving target. Because the target is taken by surprise, he often reacts in a conflict-fueling way and the rest…is history. Opportunities for healthy self-expression are lost. Relationships are damaged. Both parties lose.

How can parents handle this destructive dynamic?  Is there a “cure” for displacement? As with most effective parenting strategies, the answer is that management begins at a personal level.

When Your Child Explodes Into a Fit of Anger:

Pause for a Moment

Hold your reaction. The most human thing you can do is mirror his behavior and respond with equal anger, but this will only serve to escalate the conflict and miss an opportunity to teach your child something about effective anger expression.

Recognize that Nothing Comes from Nothing

Most people don’t spontaneously combust. If your child is having a big reaction, be willing to look beyond his or her surface behavior and figure out what is motivating it.

Drain Off the Emotion

The first stage of Life Space Crisis Intervention, a therapeutic strategy for turning crisis situations into learning opportunities for kids with chronic patterns of self-defeating behaviors, teaches parents and professionals that before they can rationally engage a child in a discussion about his feelings, they must first reduce the emotional intensity of the situation. “Drain Off” is accomplished through such de-escalation skills such as active listening, supportive non-verbal communication, and a whole lot of patience.

Understand the Timeline

When kids are flooded by emotions, often they lose track of what made them so angry in the first place. Once your child has calmed down to the point where he or she can talk about what is going on, ask open-ended questions (e.g. How were you feeling when you woke up this morning? What was going on before I came downstairs from my shower?) to encourage your child to recount the timeline of what led up to their outburst. This process of making a child feel heard and understood is relationship building — the precise opposite of what happens when parents allow themselves to be drawn into the conflict and to engage in relationship damaging wars of words.

Explain the Dynamic of Displacement

As you hear your child tell his story, you may begin to recognize a pattern of displacement. Continuing on with your use of questions, ask the child:

  • Who were you really mad at?
  • Who did you take your anger out on?
  • Did that person deserve your anger?
  • What can you do to mend the situation?
  • What could you do to prevent the situation from occurring next time?

The use of questions empowers your child to develop insight into his or her self-defeating behavior and to feel competent in developing solutions for the situation. Role-playing skills for more effective emotional expression in the future is a helpful way to round out the process.

Management begins with us. As parents, we have the power to make a situation worse or better — a relationship damaged or improved. Understanding the dynamics of displacement and recognizing that nothing comes from nothing enables us to disengage from destructive conflict cycles and respond instead in ways that build insight in children and foster positive relationships with the ones we love.

This article was first posted in March 2011 on Mom It Forward:Life Space Crisis Intervention Skills: Looking Beyond a Child’s Surface Behavior.

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