It happens. Frustration. Anger. Sometimes Rage. Whereas frustration is a normal response, and even mild anger, uncontrolled anger and rage is not. And, the detrimental effects can affect everyone involved. Anger often becomes a pattern where we don’t even realize how often we are spewing out harmful comments, criticisms, and aggression. We'd like to take a look at ways of preventing anger from becoming a pattern of thought and to encourage a change in behavior early on. Because let’s face it, anger happens...or maybe it doesn't have to. 6 Anger Management Strategies:
1. Allow Time for Frustration to Work Itself Out
When frustration arises, and it will, we might resort to yelling or a controlling behavior. This might be a pattern we learned much earlier in life, or even the way we’ve been conditioned to deal with stress. But studies show that a calmer approach, and yes, with a delayed result, cannot only help find more than one solution, but be better for our overall health and well-being. Remember that most situations do not have to have an immediate result. Take 5 minutes, or even an hour, a day, or a few days before responding to an event that causes frustration.
2. Teach Problem Solving Early On
This can start as early as infancy. Allow a child to have a few minutes of struggle to find a way out of their situation before running in to rescue them. Place a toy slightly out of reach or allow them to figure out how to manipulate a toy. For older children it may mean encouraging them to think things through rather than offering our own “wise” advice. As children get older it means teaching a divergent style (multiple solutions) of thinking vs. a convergent style (one answer). The key anger management strategy here is patience and a great sense of wonder.
3. Check Your Own Anger Barometer
What happened the last time you were frustrated? If you are human, chances are you are living, working, and interacting with other people: children, teens, adults, and elders. How we relate to others can define our character and our well-being. If you find yourself exploding or getting angry regularly, be sure to fill up your toolbox with ways to calm, take a break, or get professional help to assist you with managing how you handle frustration. Seeing you work on this skill can encourage your family and those close to you to work on it themselves. Your patience and role modeling can transfer to others.
4. Encourage Frontal Lobe Activity
When a navy seal is tested for their stamina, control response, and higher order thinking, it is controlling the amygdala, which is a small but important part of the brain, that must take place. The amygdala is great for emergency response training but can also set off a quick reaction when calm is needed. One way to control this tiny but highly alert part of the brain is to stimulate the frontal lobe responsible for organization, planning, creativity, goal setting, and problem-solving. Activities such as puzzles, art, working with color, planning an event, journaling, organizing, or cleaning up can stimulate the frontal lobe, disengaging the primal fight-or-flight response that often shows up as an angry response.
5. Don’t Clean Up The Mess
Allow the individual, child, student, or adult you work with to clean up their own mess, both physically and figuratively. Though we want to jump in to help those in need, we need to let them work through the mess they create to learn coping and problem-solving skills other than meltdowns and anger. Remaining calm while they work through a sticky situation can provide lifelong coping skills.
6. Create a Tool Box
What’s in your toolbox? It’s a great idea to not only help someone else figure theirs out, but yours as well. A toolbox may have suggestions like exercise, write a poem, draw a picture, do a puzzle, listen to music, take a nap, breathe essential oils, do Yoga, or chill out. Keep a list of 10 or so items and refresh it regularly as your toolbox may change.
These anger management tips are simple to do but can be extremely effective. Recognizing that you struggle to manage your anger is part of the process, and once this recognition is there, you can start to implement important anger management strategies. Also importantly, as adults we can start to equip children with anger management skills from an early age. This can prove invaluable in the long-run!
If much of your anger is the result of excess stress, be sure to check out our stress management tips.