Bea Inclusive TV and Podcast
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In this episode of Bea Inclusive TV, I will talk about anger management and why to use games to support healthy anger management.
If you are new to me – my name is Bea and this VLOG is dedicated to advocating truly inclusive school provision through well researched, safe and recommended approaches such as Lego-based Therapy.
So, here is me inviting you to follow my journey in creating truly inclusive provision that will help you to support children and develop your skills. Are you ready? Let’s go!
Let me start with saying that
Anyone can become angry – that is easy. This is a normal, type of human feelings and we must develop a healthy approach to anger management.
But we must learn to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – and this is not easy.
So, the first thing I want you to remember is that:
Anger is a normal, healthy human emotion.
Children need help in learning how to manage anger successfully.
Children need help with the way they see and interpret situations, events and this can have important implications for anger management.
Anger is not something to be feared, denied or repressed (even when dealing with anger is sometimes scary).
Most anger occurs in the context of a trigger event or is secondary to another underlying emotion.
There are several core elements that are crucial to the development of healthy anger management.
So, let’s have a look at these crucial core elements to the development of healthy anger management in childhood. This is a complex process that contains several elements that will help a child to successfully manage angry feelings. What are they:
The ability to communicate what it is that they want.
The language ability to be able to name the emotions.
Self-awareness – the ability to be aware of the feelings and what they involve.
Empathy – the ability to see things from another person’s point of view.
Self-control – the ability/skill to control strong feelings.
Self-reflect on their own behaviour, actions and consequences.
Self-distract, self-calm, ability to relax.
So, it’s not easy teaching children anger management as you not only have to assess children against the above elements but also plan to target deficit skills in this area. What is the best way to teach children these skills you will ask? Well, I believe that the best way to teach children is through PLAY.
Yes! The natural way of developing skills through play in my modest opinion is the most effective for children:
Children love playing and they are engaged and motivated.
Games provide structure, rules, predictability and can offer a safe environment for the exploration of their own and other people emotions.
Games reflect on the real aspect of life.
Games can be created and organised around many different areas of development: communication and language, emotional, behavioural, social, cognitive.
Remember! Never try teaching anger skills, relaxation skills, self-reflection skills, etc. when the child is angry! I did see plenty of times educational staff trying to teach the child in a state of distress and I can promise you that you can only make the child feel worse. There is always the right time and place to talk and teach children but NOT when they are angry or distressed.
Children who experience out of control anger often look to adults to give them a sense of containment and safety. If their needs are not met, they may become more anxious and their angry behaviour will increase in their desperate attempt to gain attention and recognition of their distress.
Remember that you must adapt and differentiate the game (language, difficulty, resources) for the individual child needs, strengths, and experiences. Make sure that you will consider your own personality, experience and skills in dealing with your own emotions.
Before you will play the games don’t forget to teach and practise self-regulation, breathing techniques, grounding techniques, etc. Give them tools and show them how to use them. Make sure you will think about the way of communicating their needs. Don’t forget to repeat what they say and reflect on their emotions. Empathise with them and wonder aloud. There are plenty of things that you can do to help with anger, and you have to learn the whole package.
Remember that people express anger differently some through verbal or physical expression, others are more likely to repress their anger or to express it indirectly for example through tears.
It’s easier to notice those more physical/verbal reactions as there are more distribution for the setting but let me say that if children suppress their anger then they are more likely never learn the skills for emotional regulation, they may become unaware of what they are feeling which can lead to many different mental health problems in the future. Children who have specific behavioural difficulties very often have problems with self-esteem. There is a strong link between self-esteem and aggressive behaviour and depression. When self-esteem is low, the threshold for anger may be low and an angry response can easily be triggered by a minor incident, a word, gesture, etc.
I’ve mentioned low self -esteem as one of the factors that would increase the likelihood of angry behaviours. There are more factors that will increase the risk of angry outbursts. They are: