Often, teens who act out in anger may not even realise what they are thinking or feeling--much less how to stop it. It is important for educators to remember teens armed with education on self-awareness and anger management strategies can not only exhibit less aggressive, more constructive ways to resolve conflict, but they'll develop the ability to spot the behaviour elsewhere--in the classroom or on television, for example--and form a healthy, well-informed judgment on the nature of anger and how we can deal with it as a society.
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How Can I Deal With My Anger?
Have a discussion about ways teens can deal with anger. Teens Health provides a handout citing common causes of anger in people and teens. It cites common reasons for temper flareups, such as physical changes teens are going through, high pressure or stress and even personality style. The handout also stresses role models play a part in how teens deal with their anger. Maybe they've seen other family members blow up. It stresses that anger is normal, and there's nothing wrong with it. What matters is how teens deal with it.
Discuss various ways to tame a temper. Self-awareness is important. It's the ability to notice what you feel and think. Children aren't very aware of what they feel and simply act out, but teens have the mental capacity to notice how they feel and think. Self-control uses self-awareness to take a minute before you think and act.
Have teens commit to controlling their anger. Have them ask themselves if they've yelled, screamed, said hurtful or disrespectful things, thrown or punched things or even hit someone when they're angry. Stress that most people who act like this want to change--and they can. Remind them it takes time, practice and patience. Open up the floor for discussion throughout the talk, citing examples and asking the teens to contribute their own, if they are comfortable.
Ask teens to think of a recent instance when they lost their temper. Have them write down what was said or what happened that triggered a temper flareup. One by one, have each teen play the person who upset them, saying the provoking words or acting out the provocation. Ask the class for ways you might react when your temper flares up in that situation. Then, ask them how they might react if a flareup is not possible. How do they solve the situation without aggression, violence or anger? You can discuss it or have students act it out themselves. Discussions may seem a "safer" route for a shy or reluctant group.
Go over some effective problem-solving strategies with the class. Educational sites like Kids Health offer several articles and handouts you can use. Stress to students it's important to know how to solve conflicts, since they arise daily. Ask them how they might expect conflicts to be resolved on television shows. Have them think of their favourite shows and what happens when people are in conflict. Have them select two or three conflicts they see on TV. Have them choose a children's show, teen show and adult prime-time show. Have them identify the conflict and point to "strategies" the characters use to solve the problem. Are they effective? Do they rely on anger? If so, what more effective strategies could they use? Have teens include a paragraph on if they think the media has an effect on how people handle their problems, or if it's the other way around.
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