Everyone gets angry sometimes – it is a normal emotion. However, if you explode and express yourself in harmful ways, you need anger management. Anger management teaches you how to express your anger in a healthy way and manage conflicts. The more you practice the skills of anger management, the easier it is to control yourself when you get angry.
Uncontrolled anger not only hurts relationships, but also takes a physical and mental toll. It is important to recognize anger and manage it before it becomes uncontrollable. To do so, you need to recognize both the physical and emotional signs that you are about to react angrily.
Table of Contents
- 1 Anger Management Skills
- 2 How to Manage Active Anger
- 3 How to Tell If You Have an Anger Management Problem
- 4 Signs That Your Anger Is out of Control
- 5 Anger Management for Kids
Consider the following:
- Physical Responses
If your hands and jaw clenches, and your muscles tense in response to a stimulus, you are probably beginning to get angry. Additionally, your heart may pound and you may breathe faster. Your face may flush and you may feel hot and clammy.
- Thought Patterns
Frequently, anger comes from having an idealistic view of how things should be and reacting negatively when reality does not match expectations. You may also blame others when something goes wrong instead of assuming responsibility yourself. Some people are simply pessimistic or have a negative view of life, which easily leads to anger.
Each person has his or her own triggers that activate anger. Recognizing your triggers is the first step in avoiding unnecessary anger. Once you know your triggers, you can either find ways to avoid them or learn how to view them differently so that you are not provoked to anger.
Once you have identified some of the things that lead to your anger, you will be ready to use the following anger management skills to improve your ability to avoid not only your physical and emotional responses, but also the triggers for your anger. The next section tells you how to manage anger.
Anger Management Skills
Anger management skills are ways you can prepare physically and emotionally to deal with situations that cause anger. Instead of waiting until you feel angry, anger management skills get you ready to deal with anger before you actually have to do so.
Physical activity reduces stress. Walking, running, or participating in a sport also lowers your blood pressure and releases endorphins into your body that improve your moods. Exercising before a stressful situation or occasion can help you remain stable and in control.
Stress can lead to a loss of control. Having a circle of supportive friends or an extended family provides a foundation of connectivity. Additionally, try deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.
Have a Healthy Lifestyle
Get sufficient sleep, eat a healthy diet, reduce stimulants such as caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and nicotine, and reduce the amount of sugar you eat. Additionally, make sure you include recreation and relaxation in your life.
Frequently people who get angry easily need to learn how to relax. Yoga and meditation work for some people. Try deep breathing exercises. Having a mantra, such as “Relax.” or “Take it easy.” helps some people. Others listen to music or write their feelings in a journal.
How to Manage Active Anger
Once you get angry, you need to get yourself settled down so that you can avoid an outburst. The following eight anger management tips will help you.
#1 Stop and Think
When you get angry, make yourself stop and think before you say or do anything. Think before you speak. If possible, get others involved in the situation to stop and think as well. Ask:
- Is this situation that important?
- Is anger an appropriate response?
- Will anger resolve anything?
Count to ten very slowly. If doing so does not help you regain control, count to ten again. Stretch or massage areas of your body that feel tense, or squeeze a stress ball.
#3 Engage Your Senses
Use your five senses – smelling, hearing, touching, seeing, and tasting – to rewire your responses. Try picturing yourself in a safe and relaxing place. Listen to the sounds, smell the foliage.
#4 Express Your Anger
Be assertive, but non-confrontational and state your concerns clearly and concisely. Avoid saying anything hurtful or controlling.
#5 Look for Solutions
Try to resolve whatever issue has made you angry. Remember that anger will not make the situation better and, in fact, may make things much worse.
#6 Use “I” Statements
To avoid escalating the anger, use “I” statements to avoid placing blame. For example, say, “I do not like it when you do not tell me what time you will be home, because I worry about you.”
Laughter can stop anger, if used appropriately. Avoid sarcasm and personal slams to prevent escalating the situation.
If your anger gets out of control, it is important to apologize and seek forgiveness. Additionally, forgive those who anger you. Doing so is healing for relationships.
How to Tell If You Have an Anger Management Problem
If your anger seems natural and normal to you, you may be unaware that you actually have an anger management problem. Look for these clues to determine if you need help managing your anger:
Inability to Compromise
If you cannot understand and accept the opinions and points of view others express, and always get angry and demanding instead of compromising, you need help managing your anger.
Viewing Others Opinions as a Personal Challenge
In addition to expressing anger when you view different opinions, you also may take them as a personal challenge, believing your way is always right. Anyone who disagrees with you is open to your anger, as it makes you feel in control.
Trouble Expressing Emotions Other Than Anger
Often those who get angry have trouble expressing emotions other than anger and feel they must remain tough and in control.
Signs That Your Anger Is out of Control
Out-of-control anger damages your life in many ways. Relationship problems, impaired judgement, lack of success, and the negative opinions of others are only a few. Consider the following:
- Physical health is impaired. Anger causes stress, which compromises the immune system. It also can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, weaken the immune system, and lead to diabetes and heart disease.
- Mental health problems arise. Anger consumes energy. It also makes it harder to think clearly and concentrate. The result is a lack of joy leading to depression, stress, and poor mental health.
- Career goals are hurt. When you lash out, you lose the respect of supervisors, co-workers, and clients.
- Work and social relationships fail. Anger hurts those you love. Relationships suffer and others feel they cannot trust you. They are uncomfortable around you.
Sometimes a person recognizes their anger is out of control, tries anger management techniques, and still finds themselves losing it. If you find yourself unable to control your anger, you have a problem that may need professional help, therapy, or medication. You should seek professional help for anger management if you:
- Find your temper causes problems with your family relationships.
- Have problems at work because you lose your temper.
- Continually feel angry no matter what steps you take.
- Have ever resorted to physical violence while angry.
- Have ever been arrested because of your anger.
If you get professional help, your therapist will probably attempt to explore what is really behind your anger. Often, angry responses learned in childhood are a result of watching someone in your family scream, hit others, or throw things; these responses seem normal. Sometimes anger is a cover up for true feelings, especially if feelings other than ange were discouraged during childhood. A therapist might do testing to find out if your uncontrolled anger is caused by an underlying health problem, such as chronic stress, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS).
Anger Management for Kids
It is important to help your child understand what anger is and how to manage it. Anger is not only a response to a situation or person, but also is the way a child declares their independence and expresses feelings. Triggers for children often involve situations with parents, siblings, or other children. Very young children’s anger can result in tantrums, fighting, and biting. Older children may whine, sulk, or pout.
Anger Management Skills for Children
You can help your child manage their anger by doing the following:
- Acknowledge your child’s anger. Name the emotion when your child gets angry.
- Help your child recognize triggers. Doing so will eventually help your child control their anger.
- Be a good example. Handle your anger in an appropriate way, discussing what makes you angry, how your feel and what you do to control your anger.
Anger Management Tips for Children
It is best to start helping your child to control their anger as soon as they begin experiencing it. The following five tips will help you do so.
#1 Take time out.
When your child begins to exhibit signals indicating they feel out of control, separate them from the person or situation. Have them leave the room or area.
#2 Teach calming activities.
Have your child take deep breaths. Provide a glass of cool water. You can also have them read a book, sing or play music, or play alone for a few minutes.
#3 Teach your child to understand their anger.
Discussing what is happening helps a child not only identify their triggers, but also understand what is happening and why. This is an important step in learning to control anger.
#4 Think about the other person.
Children as young as three not only can understand that the other person has feelings, but also understand they may have a different point of view. Ask your child what they think the other person is feeling and why.
#5 Find a solution.
Help your child find a solution or compromise to diffuse the situation and end the anger. For example, if your child and their sibling both want to play with the same toy, get two more toys and sit with them for a few minutes. Choose a toy yourself, asking one of the children if they want the same one. Then play with them for a few minutes. Alternatively, let them take turns with the preferred toy for a set number of minutes – twenty minutes works well – then switch toys.
When an Angry Child Becomes Aggressive
If your child becomes aggressive when they are angry, you must immediately intervene to prevent harm to one or both children. Do so with the following:
- Restore safety by stopping aggressive actions.
You may need to isolate whoever is getting physically aggressive. The goal is to help your child learn to stay in control and still protect themselves. Both children need to feel reassured and safe.
- Exert parental control.
There are times when you must assume control, set limits, and tell children exactly what they must do. For example, say, “Stop fighting right now!” If they do not, step in and stop them.
- Establish consequences.
Consequences help a child learn to stop unacceptable behavior because they know the consequences of such behavior are unpleasant. For example, if your child knows a playmate will have to leave if they do not get along, they may work harder to control their anger. Remember that you must follow through for consequences to be effective.
- Teach forgiveness.
Children need to understand that although their behavior may be unacceptable, they are not “bad.” They need to learn how to give and accept sincere apologies. Additionally, explain how one makes amends, as this will help them not feel guilty. Teach them they will have an opportunity to do better in the future.
Anger is a very powerful feeling that can happen when you are frustrated, hurt, annoyed, or disappointed. Anger can help or hurt you, depending on how you react to it. If you can react without hurting someone else, it can be a positive feeling. If you hold your anger inside, it can lead to passive-aggressive behavior like ”getting back” at people without telling them why or being critical and hostile. Knowing how to recognize and express these feelings in appropriate ways can help you handle emergencies, solve problems, and hold on to meaningful relationships. Using anger management skills and tips helps both adults and children to have healthy anger.