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  • Anger Management For Kids

  • Anger in children can be difficult to manage. Children often do not have the vocabulary to attach to various feeling states. When children feel angry and they have no words to describe the sensations, they will often act out aggressively. Their aggression is usually a means to communicate internal feelings of anger or sadness that they do not know a way to verbally express and describe. While a child with true anger problems may require the help of a psychologist, there are ways to engage a child in activities to help promote a healthy expression of his feelings, including anger. Play Therapy Psychoanalysts such as Melanie Klein, from the Freudian school of therapy, first used play therapy. In play therapy, children use toys and games to reveal their feeling states. For example, games that involve following rules or the interaction of two dolls can show feelings of interpersonal conflict or difficulty fitting into societal norms. Interacting with and watching a child play can teach a parent a great deal about how her child interacts with others, as well as help her identify feelings that her child may not be able to express in words. Feeling Charts One of the main issues that children have when it comes to anger management lies in that feelings develop in complexity before language does. Children need help identifying complex emotions in a concrete way. A study published in the “International Journal of Language Communication Disorders” in 2006 found that when it comes to naming emotions, “Older children were significantly more accurate than younger children, and typically developing children were significantly more accurate than children with language issues.” An easy way to help children identify feelings is the use of charts that show various expressions that the child can point to as a way to match his inner state. A great example is “Mood Swings: Show ‘Em How You’re Feeling!” by Jim Borgman. Journals Children can also use journals as a means of self-expression and anger management. Younger children are generally not encouraged to journal because writing about feelings requires a fair amount of cognitive development. However, journals where art is used instead of words can provide a way for even toddlers to express themselves using color, paints and even clay. Creating an environment where a child can use art journaling as a way to express feelings is a valuable anger management technique. Formal Psychological Testing and Treatment If a child’s anger becomes dangerous and overly aggressive, formal psychological testing and treatment may be warranted. A licensed clinical psychologist administers personality tests to the child and also may observe her in the classroom and at home. Sometimes cognitive testing is also included to make sure intellectual limitations are not hindering the child’s ability to manage her moods. Once the evaluation is complete, the psychologist will work with parents to create an anger management treatment plan. eferences “The Psychoanalysis of Children (The Writings of Melanie Klein, Vol. 2)”; Melanie Klein, et al.; 1984 “Mood Swings: Show “Em How You’re Feeling!”; Jim Borgman; 2002 “International Journal of Language Communication Disorders”; Understanding Emotions in Context…; 2006