THERE WILL EXIST A WELL-INFORMED,
WELL-CONSIDERED, AND YET FERVENT PUBLIC CONVICTION THAT THE MOST DEADLY OF
ALL POSSIBLE SINS IS THE MUTILATION OF A CHILDíS SPIRIT.
WITH ANGRY PEOPLE
sensitive issues and even arguments can be productive, if they donít
get out of control. When a discussion begins to get out of control, especially
if there is a history of violence, it becomes important to try to introduce
control back into the situation. Below are some suggestions that have proven
effective for people living with a potentially violent person.
- Be Prepared.
When things are calm, discuss your concerns with your partner and plan for
how you both can avoid violent exchanges in the future. Pack a bag so one of
you can leave overnight if you need to. Include basic things like a change
of clothes, extra keys, money and toilet articles.
- Keep control of
your temper. Violent episodes often involve two or more people losing
control of their temper at the same time.
- Stop trying to
resolve the issues youíre arguing about. This can be done later when
cooler heads prevail. Complex issues usually require many conversations to
- Use defusion
Ventilation. Allow the angry person to ventilate and discharge the anger.
Do not offer advice, try to correct what is being said, offer explanations, or
verbally defend yourself.
noncommittal responses such as "I see", "I understand",
"Yup", and try to appear as though you are listening. Do not agree
with anything you donít agree with.
LET GO OF ALL
EXPECTATIONS AND OUTCOMES
After a brief period of ventilation, most people begin to calm down. When this
begins to happen, use these active listening techniques:
Let the angry person know you understand he/she is upset with statements
such as, "Youíre really angry because you think Iíve been
unfair." let the person know that the relationship is valuable.
let the person know that they are valuable.
Let the person know you understand what he/she feels with statements such
as, "Youíre really feeling angry, arenít you?" Let the angry
person know you understand what he/she is thinking with statements such as,
"You really think Iíve been unfair, donít you?"
How, what, when, where and why. carefully, slowly and be attentive.
Anger has several
basic characteristics that make it a complex emotion. Effective use and
management of our anger requires that we be aware of these characteristics and
that we take steps to address them.
Among the major
characteristics of anger are:
When people are angry, they have been provoked. It is the way we interpret
events that provokes us, not the events themselves.
When we get angry, we are defending ourselves against what we believe is a
provocation. This defensiveness is often seen by others as threatening and a
provocation and they are likely to become angry also. Their anger will be seen
as a threat and a provocation by us and the argument will escalate.
Anger involves both sensations (feelings) and changes in our bodies. These
physical changes include increases in our levels of adrenaline, heart rate,
breathing and muscle tension. Physical changes often come on slower and last
longer than our feelings, so it may seem as though we are not angry when we
The physical part of anger can build up over long periods of time. When we
have a lot of "stored up" anger, it can take as long as two weeks
for us to get over it and we can carry it into one situation after another.
This is why we sometimes seem to "blow up" over a relatively minor
Anger can occur at varying degrees of intensity, including irritation,
annoyance, frustration, resentment, hostility and rage. We do not always react
to the same event with the same amount of anger. How strongly we react will
depend on how much anger we have accumulated, what kind of a mood we are in
and how effectively we believe we are handling things.
affects our judgment. When we get angry, our ability to reason and engage
in effective problem solving is affected. When we get angry, we focus on
specific things, often taken out of context. This is called "tunnel
vision". Our view of things usually changes after our anger has passed
and we are generally better able to figure out what needs to be done to
resolve a problem.
ALTERNATIVES TO LOSING YOUR PATIENCE
by the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse
big and little problems of everyday life may make you feel that youíre going
to lose your patience. When you feel like lashing out Ė STOP. Take time out.
Try any or all of these simple alternatives Ė whatever works for you.
- Stop in your tracks.
Step back. Sit down.
- Take five deep
breaths. Inhale. Exhale. Slowly. Slowly.
- Count to 10. Better
yet 20. Or say the alphabet out loud.
- Phone a friend. A
relative. Even the weather.
- Still mad? Walk
outside, Punch a pillow. Or munch an apple.
- Thumb through a
magazine, book, newspaper, photo album.
- Do some sit-ups,
run, walk, exercise.
- Pick up a pencil and
write down your thoughts,
- journal your
- Take a hot bath. Or
a cold shower.
- Lie down on the
floor, or just put your feet up.
- Put on your favorite
- Water your plants
- Meditate, pray,
think , contemplate.
kindly. Listen well.
Look your child in the eyes
when you speak to him. Bend or sit down, becoming the childís size. Gently
touch your child before you talk. Say his name.
Practice talking to your
child as you would talk to your adult friends. Instead of saying "Why
canít you ever act right?" try "I am sure that you can Ö"
Speak in a calm and quiet
voice, whispering sometimes so your child has to listen. Turn off the TV or the
Practice talking. Talk with
your child about what you see at the store or on TV. Talk about school and
friends with your child.
Practice listening. Give
your child your complete attention when she wants to talk to you. Donít read,
watch TV, fall asleep, or make yourself busy with other tasks.
Teach your child to listen.
Have him tell you what he heard when you said something. Model this behavior Ė
tell the child what you heard when he said something to you.
Describe, donít evaluate
or judge your child. Instead of saying "You clumsy kid, you fell off the
swing again," say "You lost your balance; we need to work on learning
Describe rather than
vaguely praise your child. Instead of just saying "Youíre
fantastic," say "You have totally organized your room Ė look, the
books are on the shelf, the Legos are in the bucket Ė youíre
Use "openers" to
invite your child to talk more about an incident or a feeling. Say "Tell me
more" or "Say that again. I want to be sure I understand."
Say "I love you"
to your child often. Write it on a note every once in a while Ė put it in her
lunchbox or on her pillow.