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Can earlier intervention help children deal with anger?

It is crucial for their development that we support kids as they make their way through the real and online worlds, says 1decision's Hayley Sherwood

Posted by Julian Owen | December 06, 2018 | Health & wellbeing

As we approach the season of goodwill, National Anger Awareness Week (December 1-7) is well-placed to shine a light on anger as a social issue which needs to be brought out into the open and addressed effectively. 

Last year, the British Association of Anger Management created a ‘Keep Your Cool Over Yule Kit’ for use by individuals, organisations, families, schools and other groups. It consisted of anger management activities, as well as tips on handling anger appropriately and calming strategies for diffusing difficult situations. 

Whether it is in the Christmas period or at any other time of the year, we are often hijacked by our feelings and emotions. This can potentially cause a tremendous amount of damage, not least in schools, so the purpose of National Anger Awareness Week is to help people deal effectively with this powerful emotion. 

In my experience, anger awareness and management is all about early intervention and changing learned behaviour with regard to certain feelings and emotions. Many children do not recognise anger; they see it as a natural impulse. 

Anger is a social issue which needs to be brought out into the open and addressed effectively

1decision videos on anger management equip primary school children with the knowledge and skills to manage this emotion. We look at how children feel in their body when they are angry and challenge them to respond appropriately, rather than being aggressive or violent. It is also about saying that being angry is sometimes OK, but it is how we react that is key. 

Through our feelings and emotions module we do lot of work on anger management techniques, including looking at mindfulness; one practical exercise is breathing through the diaphragm and being in a relaxed and calm mind. If we can do all of this at an earlier stage of development, children are less likely to be violent in secondary schools. 

There is no doubt that children go through a lot of emotional stuff in the real and, increasingly, online worlds. We need to help them manage this so it does not become a greater mental health issue, which can lead to more drastic scenarios such as self-harming - and worse - if anger is not managed appropriately. 

Hayley Sherwood is creator of 1decision, part of Headway Education's learning resources

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