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|Quick reference medical handouts used
by Pediatric offices
Anger Management Strategies for Kids
Five Ways to Help Kids Learn the Virtue of Self-Control and StayCalm
Dr. Michele Borba
Our children are facing
much more pressing types of daily stresses than most of us ever dealt
with in our childhood. Just think of the kinds of horrific images our
kids are exposed to on the nightly news: riots, hate crimes, random
shootings, bombings, kidnappings, senseless murders. We're also seeing a
troubling increase in bullying, name-calling, and prejudicial slurs
among schoolchildren. Do these issues affect our children? "You bet
they do," says Dr. Michele Borba, author of the new book, Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids
to Do the Right Thing (Jossey-Bass Publishers, July 2001).
"The single greatest trend I've seen as a consultant to
hundreds of schools over the past ten years, "Borba says," is
the marked increase in anxiety and anger in our children. We shouldn't
kid ourselves: the steady onslaught of stress and violence images is
taking a major toll on our children's emotional and moral
can parents do? Teach children the critical virtue of self-control so
they know how to handle their emotions appropriately when faced with
frustrations. In Building Moral Intelligence, Borba gives parents the following five
strategies to teach children self-control so they can calm down and
learn to handle their anger.
1. Model coolness when facing problems.
Showing you can keep your cool, even in crisis, is an important
way to help your children learn self-control. You send a clear message:
"It may look like a
crisis, but by staying cool, I'll be in a better position to solve the
problem." Example is always the best teacher: "I need to take
a deep breath and stay cool before I call the bank. I can't understand
how my account is so overdrawn."
2. Develop a feeling vocabulary. Many
kids display aggression because they simply don’t know how to express
their frustrations any other way. They need an emotion vocabulary to
express how they feel, and you can help your child develop one by
creating a "feeling word" poster together. Here are a few:
angry, upset, mad, frustrated, agitated, furious, apprehensive, tense,
nervous, anxious, irritated, furious, ticked off, irate, incensed. Write
them on a chart, hang it up, and when your child is angry, use the words
so that he can apply them to real life: “Looks like you’re really
angry. Want to talk about it?” Then keep adding emotion words to the
list whenever new ones come up in those great “teachable moments”
that come up throughout the day.
3. Identify anger-warning signs.
to your child that we all have our own little signs that warn us we’re
getting angry, and that we should listen to them because they can help
us stay out of trouble. Next, help your child recognize what specific
warning signs she may have that tell her she’s starting to get upset.
For example, “I talk louder. My cheeks get flushed. I clench my fists.
My heart pounds. My mouth gets dry. I breathe faster.” Once she is
aware of her signs, start pointing them out to her whenever she first
starts to get frustrated: “Looks like you’re starting to get out of
control.” “Your hands are in a fist now. Do you feel yourself
starting to get angry?” The more we help kids recognize those early
warning signs when their anger is first triggered—usually when they
first show signs of tension and stress—the better able they will be to
calm themselves down and learn to regulate their own behavior.
4. Use self-talks to stay in control. Experts suggest that another way to help kids stay in control is to
teach them to say affirmations-simple, positive messages-to themselves
in stressful situations. Here are a few kids that can learn: “Stop and calm down,” “Stay in control,” “Take a deep
breath” and “I can handle this.” Suggest a few phrases to your
child, then have her choose the one she feels most comfortable saying;
help her rehearse it a few times each day. You might post the words she
chooses throughout the house as a reminder. The more your child
practices the affirmation, the greater the likelihood she will use it
during a difficult situation in which she needs to stay cool and in
5. Teach abdominal breath control. Learning
to breath the right way —especiallystressful
situations—is one of the most effective ways to stay in control, and so
it’s an important technique to teach kids. Experts advise you to teach
the relaxation method with your child sitting in a comfortable position,
her back straight and pressed into a chair for support. Then show your
child how to inhale slowly to a count of five (“one Mississippi, two
Mississippi," and so on”), pause for two counts, and then slowly
breathe out the same way, again counting to five. Repeating the sequence
creates maximum relaxation. The
trick is to help your child learn to breathe very slowly and deeply and
then practice it over and over in a calm, relaxed setting so that she can
remember to use the technique during a stressful time.
kids to use self-control is just one of the many attributes of Dr. Borba's
new book. The book covers this and literally hundreds of other ideas,
stories, techniques, tips, and parenting strategies to help parents build
moral strength in their children. Borba's practical, step-by-step advice
will guide parents along their most important role: raising good moral
Borba, Ed.D. A former classroom teacher is an
internationally renowned consultant and educator who has presented workshops to
over half a million participants. She serves on the advisory board for Parents
Magazine and is the recipient of the National Educator Award. Dr. Borba is the
author of eighteen books including Building Moral Intelligence and Parents Do Make A Difference (Jossey-Bass), named by Child Magazine as an "outstanding parenting book of the
year." She is a frequent guest expert on television and National Public
Ratio talk shows including The Today Show,
The View, ABC Home Show, The Parent Table, and is quoted in numerous
national publications. She lives in Palm Springs, California with her husband
and three teenage sons.
As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as
medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your childs pediatrician.
Please read our full disclaimer.