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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Anger management
Move to defuse explosive tendencies
Published Thursday, November 8, 2012 8:11 am
by Wesley Carter D.M.

My daughter is in seventh grade and her anger is out of control. When she gets angry with her friends, she literally loses control. Is this normal?

Wesley Carter D.M.

Normal is a relative term and is typically based on broad generalizations.  Therefore, the more appropriate question is whether her behavior is healthy.  It is unhealthy, unproductive, and inappropriate for your daughter to allow anger to control her behavior.

How we govern ourselves with our friends determines the health and longevity of our relationships. Individuals are governed by different values and priorities, often resulting in differences of opinion. Help your daughter learn to respectfully disagree.

If your daughter has always had difficulty coping with anger, she may need professional help her develop and execute more appropriate coping strategies.

Consult her pediatrician and school for guidance on how you can help her manage her behavior. Investigate the possibility of a medical reason for her behavior.

If your daughter’s behavior is recent, her behavior may be a signal that she is experiencing some type of emotional or physical trauma. Partner with a healthcare professional and Investigate the presence of drugs, abuse, or health issues. Investigate the possibility that she is being bullied or bullying others.

Evaluate your daughter’s friends. She may be imitating the behavior of someone in her social circle. If so, change her environment immediately. You may want to speak to the parents of her friends to find out of they are experiencing similar behavior from their children.
If after consulting with healthcare professionals, other parents, and school administrators, you determine that your daughter’s behavior is the result of underdeveloped social skills, there are numerous resources available to provide guidance. Identify age-appropriate books and articles for her to read. Empower her to take control of her ability to cope with frustration or anger.

Fear and disappointment often masquerade as anger. Seventh grade is a very difficult time in childhood development. The combination of puberty and increasingly complex relationships complicates life for middle school students. Perhaps the academic rigor of seventh grade is the cause of the increase frustration. If so, enroll her in tutoring and test-taking classes.

Tell her that the next time she feels herself getting frustrated to repeat, “talk it out, work it out, or walk it out.” This phrase is prescriptive in nature and will serve to remind your daughter that she has at least three coping strategies at her fingertips.

Talk it out refers to the calming messages we tell ourselves. Teach your daughter to talk herself down using positive affirmations such as “I am in control of how I respond to frustration” and “I can choose my response to this situation.”

Work it out refers to peacemaking activities. Circumstances are rarely as dire as they appear when we are angry. Equip your daughter with the skills necessary to negotiate win-win solutions to conflicts. Challenge her to resolve differences peacefully and respectfully.

Walk it out refers to the act of removing herself from negative situations. Suggest your daughter refrain from allowing herself to lose control by putting some distance between herself and the root of the conflict. If she is displeased with a friend, recommend that she negotiate a later time to discuss the issue after she has had a chance to calm down. Recommend she remove herself and take a walk alone to give her time to ruminate over the situation. 

Help her visualize herself behaving calmly and peacefully. Teach her how to hold her position without being aggressive or antagonistic. As her mother, you are in the best position to teach her how to recognize and manage frustration.  You have already experienced many of the same situations that she is currently contending with as a young lady. Share your own experiences with anger and how you managed to cope at her age.

Beware of how you and her father model anger management. The coping skills your daughter learns now should help her grow into a reasonable and reasoning adult. Model productive, prosocial behaviors and demonstrate how to resolve conflicts and maintain relationships.

Wesley Carter DM, founder and CEO of Kids by Carter, provides guidance to parents. Submit questions to wesley@kidsbycarter.com, visit www.kidsbycarter.com and follow on Twitter @kidsbydrcarter.


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