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In the last section, we discussed the two intentions of angry expressions. Anger is displayed by choice as negative anger or positive anger.
In this section, we will discuss children and anger. The five keys we will discuss are don’t be threatened by the child’s anger, let choices and consequences shape the child, don’t preach, don’t major in the minors, and share your own experiences. As I describe each key, decide if you can apply the ideas to a client you may be treating
♦ #1 Don’t Be Threatened by the Child’s Anger
♦ #2 Choices and Consequences Shape the Child
I asked Julia how her approach worked. Julia stated, "She kicked a hole in the closet door and I grounded her all week. We’re still not talking." As you are aware, children need to feel competent in order to manage their anger. With that in mind, Julia could have redirected the focus by telling Chelsea, "You have several outfits. Pick anything you want." This statement would have given Chelsea a choice and made her responsible for the consequences.
♦ #3 Don’t Preach
Would you agree that clients can be more effective with low-key authority than with a preachy lecture? Fred, age 48 and father of three, stated, "I know what’s best for my kids! In my house discipline is a top priority, but my kids try so damn hard to find a way around that. I tell them all the time how best to live their lives, but they ignore me. It’s like banging my head against a wall!"
To help Fred decide if he was being too preachy, I asked him a few questions. "Do you debate fine points with your child? Do you offer rebuttals? Do you work extra hard to convince your child of the validity of your point? Do you accuse your child of insubordination? Do you induce guilt in your child for being different?" I let Fred read his answers. Would you agree that positive answers to these questions may indicate the client leans too heavily on a preachy, authoritative style?
♦ # 4 Don’t Major in the Minors
I feel that this type of overemphasis on minor matters represents a shallow understanding of empathy. Therefore, overemphasizing minor matters creates the potential for anger. By majoring in the minors, clients teach children imbalanced anger. By letting these minor problems remain minor, emotions can be minimized. As you have experienced, this concept relates to one of the five ways of handling anger discussed in section one, dropping it.
♦ Cognitive Behavior Therapy: 4-Step "Let Go By Holding On" Technique
I explained that the physical discomfort represents the emotional pain which accompanies anger. Then I asked Julia to slowly release her grip. The sensation was pleasant and Julia felt relief. At this point, I explained that similarly, when Julia lets go anger, she can free herself from emotional pain and threats, thus becoming more assertive. Do you have a Julia who might benefit from the "Let Go By Holding On" technique in which the client squeezes a ball?
♦ # 5 Share Your Own Experiences
Would you agree that children can benefit from lessons learned in adult experiences? Some children may feel as if they cannot discuss their feelings toward an adult’s angry expression. Do you agree clients can develop openness and honesty with their children by sharing experiences?
In this section, we discussed children and anger. The five keys are don’t be threatened by the child’s anger, let choices and consequences shape the child, don’t preach, don’t major in the minors, and share your own experiences.
In the next section, we will discuss rationalizations that perpetuate anger. Four rationalizations you may encounter are My past is to painful, Forgiveness is too good, Why should I try when no one else does, and Anger is a familiar habit.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
HarmonJones, C., Hinton, E., Tien, J., Summerell, E., & Bastian, B. (2019). Pain offset reduces rumination in response to evoked anger and sadness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117(6), 1189–1202.
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