How to Teach Anger Management in Your Class
Point 1: Anger Management Is Important
Kids need to be motivated in order to work on their anger management, which means that they need to believe that there's something "in it for them." That means that your first step in teaching anger management in the classroom should be to explain to kids why it is important and how it can help them.
Depending on the age of your students, that might mean acting out how an angry person might deal with a situation and how a calm person might deal with a situation. Ask students to discuss which of the people they would be more likely to listen to and why. Then let them discuss which person they would most like to be friends with and why. Students should see that anger not only makes people more resistant towards obeying or understanding the other person's point of view, but it also makes other people view the angry person as negative and frustrating to be around. Finish off this point by emphasizing to students that learning how to manage your anger can actually make you feel better as well, and that being able to stave off your anger and keep a positive attitude can make all the difference in how you feel about yourself and your life.
Point 2: How to Recognize Anger Triggers
Next, you will want students to be able to understand which events trigger their anger and how their body responds immediately before they react in anger. To do this, they would first keep an "anger diary," taking note of situations in which they felt angry, what exactly caused that anger, and how their body responded. For example, a child might write that she felt angry when her parents did not let her sleep over a friend's house, that she felt angry because it frustrated her that her parents didn't trust her and felt they could make decisions for her, and that she reacted physically by sweating slightly, gritting her teeth, and tensing all of her muscles.
Instruct students to work in groups to discuss their journals and to look for any patterns. Students can then present their findings to the class, to be followed by a full-class discussion on the topic. You can then mention that knowing what might trigger an anger attack can help you to avoid it happening. For example, before asking her parents for something that she knows they might refuse, the student in the previous example should prepare herself for the situation and try her best to stay calm using the techniques in the following sections.
Point 3: Relaxation Techniques
Next, you will teach students some techniques that they can use in order to avoid becoming angry. First, ask students to brainstorm ideas of things that they do when they want to relax. Then explain that relaxing can help then to avoid becoming angry. In addition to the ideas that they have already written down, you can teach them typical relaxation techniques.
To do this, demonstrate peaceful breathing techniques, breathing in from the diaphragm so that your stomach expands and contracts, and going as slowly as possible. Students should repeat this after you while sitting in a comfortable position. You can then show them how to say a calming word or phrase over and over again, such as "I can stay calm" or "everything is okay." Then, walk them through the process of tensing and then relaxing each of their muscles one by one. By the end of this process, they should feel relaxed. Tell students that they can use these relaxation techniques when they find themselves facing a trigger situation or feeling themselves starting to get angry. This can calm them down and give them the control they need to react rationally.
Point 4: Other Anger Management Techniques
You can then fill students' arsenal with other techniques they can use to calm their anger. For example, have students write out what their "self talk" sounds like when they are angry at a specific situation. Then have them take control of the "little voice" inside their heads and have it say what they want it to say, and ask them to describe the difference between positive and negative self talk and how it makes them feel.
Here are a few other anger management techniques you can teach students:
- Allow students to role play the position of the person they sometimes get angry at in order to help them understand how the other person may feel. This can help them to see the other side of the situation and to empathize with the person they are angry at.
- Let students model over and over again the correct way to calmly deal with a frustrating situation. Practice makes perfect -- with staying calm as well as everything else in life!
- Let students practice problem solving simple issues with each other, allowing each other turns to talk and trying to work together to come to a solution. This can stop disputes from degenerating.
- Show students how to walk away from a situation or move to a designated area in order to cool off before reacting to an incident.
Any of these techniques can be helpful in allowing students to control their anger and respond effectively. By teaching students the proper way to deal with anger, you will be giving them a truly helpful life skill.
My Tech Prep. "Counseling Activities for Teaching Anger Management and Social Skills." www.mvtechprep.org/educator/ties2006/curriculum/05.pdf
Series on Highly Effective Practices—Anger Management. "Teaching Anger Management." www.education.odu.edu/esse/docs/angermanagement.pdf