When I’m talking about anger with kids, in the classroom or in my office, I typically ask them if it’s ok to be angry. Invariably, their response is no, or they don’t know. As a society, we’ve sent strong messages to our kids that angry feelings are unacceptable. “Don’t be angry about that,” is what they often hear. As counselors, it seems like we spend a lot of effort countering these messages. I think we all have ways we work with students to acknowledge and then work through their angry feelings accordingly.
So what happens when kids listen to these messages to just repress their anger? Up until now, I could have instinctively told you that it’s best to let kids work through their anger, but I couldn’t have told you what happens when they don’t. Signe Whitson, LSW, describes three ways in which kids will react:
- Physical feelings of unexplained pain or illness
- Projection of angry/bad feelings on to other children, often becoming a provocative victim
- Passive aggressiveness
Do you see these behaviors in kids? I do, and often at the same time. My guess is that one could reduce these negative outcomes through a solid anger management program.
You can read more here: Three Ways that Kids’ Anger Bites Back | Psychology Today. Ms. Whitson also has a book out on teaching students proper responses to angry feelings.
Our school district has made an investment in the 40 Developmental Assets, and I’ve made an effort to use this approach when working with students who have some deficits in these areas. I recently purchased eight sets of the “Adding Assets Series for Kids” to use in small group sessions. Each sets include eight books, a leader’s guide, and a cd-rom with reproducible materials. As you might expect, each book corresponds with a different group of assets, both internal and external:
- People Who Care About You (Support Assets)
- Helping Out and Staying Safe (Empowerment Assets)
- Doing and Being Your Best (Boundaries and Expectations)
- Smart Ways to Spend Your Time (Constructive Use of Time)
- Loving to Learn (Commitment to Learning)
- Knowing and Doing What’s Right (Positive Values Assets)
- Making Choices and Making Friends (Social Competencies)
- Proud to Be You (Positive Identity)
Lessons include a story with activities that help support that particular developmental asset. There are also included handouts and activities to share with parents. As much as I’d love to do the entire series with an entire classroom or grade level, reality just doesn’t allow it. Instead, I’ll as various needs are identified for social skills groups, I will pick out individual lessons and plan accordingly. If I find something particularly useful, I’ll be sure and post it here.
You know those little orange goldfish crackers we all love to munch on? Turns out that the people who make them, Pepperidge Farms, are as interested in raising well-adjusted kids as they are filling our bellies. I recently attended a workshop where their website, Fishful Thinking, serves as a resource for parents and educators and promotes the ideals of:
- Emotional awareness
If you’re at all familiar with the concepts of the 40 Developmental Assets, you’ll recognize these as identified traits that help children grow into healthy adults. The site offers articles, videos and activities to help promote each one of these five traits. Although many of them are geared for parents, I believe they can be easily tailored for use in classrooms or small groups.