One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from teachers and parents is, How should I respond when a young person is upset or emotionally overwhelmed?” Since self-regulation is the core of emotional well-being (not to mention a pre-requisite for academic progress), I am not just willing…but completely eager…to share practical strategies for helping kids manage intense feelings and develop self-regulation skills.
Check out my recent post from Psychology Today to find seven practical strategies for responding well to angry kiddos…and please share it with professionals, parents, and others in your network who may also find it helpful.
Got a kid who can’t—or won’t—assert herself around others? Highlights Magazine interviewed me, Dr. Michele Borba, and Dr. Kristin Buss for strategies on how to help passive young people find their voices. Check out our responses using the link below and at the “Smart Answer to Parents’ Toughest Questions” section on Highlights.com
For more information on helping your child move beyond passivity, aggression, or passive aggression and on to more assertive communication, check out the activities, games and discussion ideas in How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids & Teens.
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 absolutely 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!
Today, I worked with kids who were holding on to angry feelings about ways their peers had wronged them. This video is a beautiful way to teach young people about letting go of grudges and instead, holding on to gratitude.
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:
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
Trainings from the Parents Division of the LSCI Institute help parents and caregivers learn specific skills for building positive relationships with kids, prevent and de-escalate conflicts, and utilize consistent, verbal strategies for crisis intervention. The LSCI Skills for Parents trainings:
- Provide parents with specific skills for building positive relationships with kids
- Encourage the use of preventative and non-physical crisis de-escalation strategies
- Provide a framework for verbal crisis intervention that is consistent from situation to situation
Part 1: Conflict Prevention & De-Escalation
The Conflict Prevention & De-Escalation course presents foundational LSCI concepts such as the Conflict Cycle™, effective listening, crisis de-escalation, and “Timeline” skills through engaging activities and discussions that are relevant and accessible to parents and caregivers. Part 1 can be taught as a 1-day course or as a series of hour-long workshops.
Part 2: Managing Challenging Behaviors
The Managing Challenging Behaviors program identifies the six most common, chronic self-defeating patterns of behavior in kids and provides parents with a consistent 4-step process that helps families effectively address and modify each one. Part 2 of the curriculum is designed as an 8-session program, with one session dedicated to each of the six self-defeating patterns, along with an Introduction and Conclusion session.
FIND OUT what participants are saying about LSCI Skills for Parents trainings: http://www.lsci.org/parents-division-lsci-institute
FOR MORE INFORMATION & TO SCHEDULE an LSCI Skills for Parents course, please click on the LSCI Training page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not long ago, my daughter, her best friend and I had a full day’s worth of activity and adventure, enjoying carnival games at a local festival, eating bags of salty popcorn, running through icy cold fountains when the day’s heat became too intense and following it all up with a late afternoon movie. It was Girl Time at its best!
Which is why I was totally blown away when, after dropping off her friend, my daughter’s answer to my innocent inquiry of, “So, what should we do for dinner?” was met with a raging, “Nothing! Can we just go home already? I think we’ve bonded enough for one day.”
“Was that a car that just rear-ended me?” I thought momentarily. “Can words cause whiplash?” I wondered. My white knuckles clutched the steering wheel with primitive force and I’m pretty sure the woman in the lane next to me witnessed steam coming out of my ears.
“Seriously?” I started out calmly. Unfortunately, I only began that way. Quick as a flash, angry words of hurt and indignation rang forth from my mouth. I promised to never take my daughter anywhere… ever… again. I threatened to cancel our “bonding plans” for next weekend’s end-of-school-year trip. I lied and told her that I had had a miserable day, too. In short, I mirrored the emotions my daughter had just unleashed on me and fueled the out-of-the-blue conflict with ten additional gallons of gasoline. When my rant was over, I looked at her in the rearview mirror and I knew I had blown it.
For the rest of this not-so-Mom-of-the-Year-moment–including my thoughts on how I would approach this situation if I could have a Do-Over–please check out my full article in the HuffingtonPost:
Please also check out the tab on LSCI Skills for Parents training, for more information on de-escalating conflicts with kids and improving parent-child relationships.
This week, two new reviews of How to Be Angry were posted on amazon.com 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:
This morning, I had the great opportunity to join Public Radio host, Kathleen Dunn, and US Dept. of Education representative, Deborah Tempkin for an hour to talk about what parents, schools, and peers can do to stop bullying and cyber-bullying. While I much prefer being a writer…and being able to liberally revise my responses until I find just the right words…I did love the interaction with Kathleen and Deborah and with the callers who phoned, emailed, and tweeted their questions to the show. It was a lively discussion, sparked by the recent bullying-related suicide of a young man from Sioux City, Iowa.
The one thing I’ve been kicking myself about all day is my response to the two callers who talked about physical retaliations as being the best answer to the problem of bullying. I found myself a little tongue-tied during both conversations. The point I wanted to make–and that I do make when I have the luxury of writing on the subject instead of answering on-air–is that while physical retaliations may seem to solve the problem in the moment, they are not the mark of a civilized society and are never the kind of skill that best serve children in the long-term. I do believe with all of my heart that children need skills to know how to stand up for themselves, but never do I believe that revenge–particularly physical aggression–is an advisable response.