Teaching kids how to manage their anger can ironically cause us to feel frustrated. We might become frazzled trying to figure out how to state what we think is obvious. Sometimes we forget that they are learning how to deal with their emotions as they develop. Just as we have to teach them how to walk or ride a bike we have to teach them how to handle their tough emotions. So where do we start with teaching kids how to manage their anger? The answer…Physical Boundaries.
Boundaries give clear parameters to work within. If an action is in question we check to see if it goes against the boundaries. Since anger is one of our high-energy emotions our urge to hit, kick, and throw things is extremely powerful. So I’ve developed an acronym to help kids remember the physical boundaries when they are angry:
NO H.O.P.S. essentially sets the physical boundaries that prohibit harm to others, property or self. It’s a quick easy method that can be stated as a reminder when emotions are running high.
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Now that we’ve established the “what not to does” when it comes to the energy level connected with the anger we want to create a list of things kids can do with that energy. This is where we can brainstorm with kids or keep in mind what types of activities the child will most likely use. Here are some ideas to pull from:
As we begin to include the “can do” activities it can be helpful for us to begin do the physical activity with our kids. This is a clear redirection and exemplifies the helpful aspects of releasing their anger-energy.
These two areas help our kids now how to deal with the physical energy level that results from feeling angry in a healthy way. Once the energy is managed then the emotional aspect and problem solving aspects can be focused on through conversation.