Sunday, March 18, 2012

Helping Kids Through Anger

I had the opportunity to attend a conference on fathering last week.  It was a great experience - I learned a lot of useful stuff.  While I was there I bought a book called, "131 Creative Strategies for Reaching Children with Anger Problems" by Tom Carr.

In the book, the author describes 2 types of anger.  The first is Bear anger.  I think when most people think of anger they imagine the Bear.  Bear anger is loud and menacing.  No one sees Bear-style anger without being aware of it.  Tantrums, yelling, hitting, door-slamming, and throwing things are all types of Bearish anger.

The second type of anger is Turtle style anger.  A turtle pulls its head into its shell and imagines the world has disappeared when it's angry.  I think it's easy to miss Turtle type anger.  Locking oneself away, monosyllabic responses, self-recrimination, and avoidance are all signs of Turtle anger.

In our family, my daughter is the Bear and my son is the Turtle.  Guess who's gotten more attention.  Although Turtle anger is easier to deal with in the short term, it may be more difficult to work with in the longer term - if only because it's so easy to leave it unaddressed for so long.  When a child is angry and starts hitting and screaming, parents are quick to drop what they're doing and try to fix the problem.  Perhaps they talk to the child about coping skills or something.  But when a child withdraws and gets quiet, adults don't tend to take as much notice.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to post about the anger kids feel and how to identify it, find its roots, and address it.

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