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Anger management available to children??

(41 Posts)
AliceinWinterWonderland Sun 16-Feb-14 07:19:51

I've noticed that a lot of us post on here about anger problems with our DCs. I have a 7yo DS1 that I'm seeing more aggression from as he gets older, and I suspect to some extent I'm not the only one that sometimes is at a loss as to how to help him either express it or contain it.

I've asked the paediatrician and his school about any type of anger management programmes (either to attend or simply to go through at home) and have been told any that they are aware of are geared towards older teenagers. confused What happened to being proactive?

Don't they realise that getting this information BEFORE they hit puberty and putting some behavioural controls and practices in place NOW could go a long way in preventing bigger behavioural problems when they hit those teen years?? Why is this such a struggle for them to understand. I've mentioned it to a number of medical and school professionals, and they all seem to look taken aback by this idea. Seriously? This is news??

Is anyone aware of any programmes that are available for younger children - say around 6-10yo - for anger management at all?

streakybacon Sun 16-Feb-14 07:32:07

I think most of us have had to make up our own anger management programmes, to be honest. You're right, there is very little out there for younger children and consequently these issues aren't being addressed.

All that was suggested to my son was to find a teacher and talk through what was upsetting him, which is crap advice for a child with a social communication problem who can't express his emotions verbally or even understand why he is angry. The upshot was that he was blamed for not seeking help so he was punished repeatedly. Not particularly helpful hmm.

I pulled together a really effective anger management programme for him and it worked brilliantly at home, but school refused to support it during the day and this inconsistency drastically reduced its impact. For best results, you probably do need something that's officially sanctioned so that there's a holistic approach that your son is more likely to engage with.

Sorry I can't be more helpful.

OneInEight Sun 16-Feb-14 07:47:40

There is a course organised by NAS on "Anger Management". I am going on it a couple of weeks so can't tell you yet how good or otherwise it is. ds1's school referred me for it but I guess you could approach directly.

AliceinWinterWonderland Sun 16-Feb-14 08:05:13

streakybacon my DS1 is beginning to have the same problem. He's had a couple situations in school recently where he was punished for not being able to cope, and I reacted quite strongly to that, as I feel it's not fair on him at all. It's a specialised school and yet they specifically told me that he's expected to be learning to control his anger, but they don't provide any information or support on HOW to control it, and when he did fall apart, they said they didn't have time to wait around for him to control it on his own. So basically they were expecting instant anger control in a 7yo without any type of support or training. hmm Ridiculous.

OneInEight I would be interested in feedback on that programme, if you'd be interested in providing that. What you thought of it, what age child it's geared specifically towards, and so on. That would be very helpful.

I know there have been some books posted recently (although I can't find the post) with some helpful child-directed messages, and IIRC one was aimed towards anger problems. If anyone has any good suggestions, I'd be interested as well.

I am trying like crazy to provide different outlets to DS1 now to help him, but obviously direct anger management training of an age-appropriate nature would be helpful.

PolterGoose Sun 16-Feb-14 08:21:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OneInEight Sun 16-Feb-14 08:21:45

Yes, I will try to remember to update when I have been.

There is a book called "The Red Beast" that came highly recommended to us but did not work for my two at 10 as it was perhaps aimed for younger kids as is a picture book. Mine refused to accept the notion of a monster inside of them which I guess is a pretty normal AS reaction but as I said other people have found it very good. There is also "What to do when my temper flares...." again aimed at primary school aged children.

RightRoyalPainInTheArse Sun 16-Feb-14 08:39:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AliceinWinterWonderland Sun 16-Feb-14 08:40:13

I have The Explosive Child - got it on Kindle finally the other day. Still have yet to have enough peace to sit down and read it and actually retain the info.

Thanks for the info on the Huebner workbook - I'll look at that.

I've avoided the NAS to some extent. DS1 is in that weird "dx but not dx" land re ASD. The paed has said he is on spectrum, however, then said she couldn't say he had ASD, but in a meeting with his teachers 2 years ago when he was still in MS she stated he had ASD. Very odd. I've looked at the criteria - he easily fits, no question IMO. I wonder if the paed doesn't want to commit as he is 7yo. She has been pushing for me to give him ADHD meds for 2 years, however, will not commit to him having ADHD either. sigh. Does my head in.

streakybacon Sun 16-Feb-14 09:46:52

I did the NAS anger seminar a few years ago and still have the notes which I transferred to my pc. I can email them to you if you want them. PM me if you do.

Levantine Sun 16-Feb-14 10:22:52

I'm in the same boat but don't have any suggestions that haven't already been made. I've got what to do when your temper flares and am planning to make a start on it with ds this weekend.

PolterGoose Sun 16-Feb-14 10:23:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AliceinWinterWonderland Sun 16-Feb-14 10:36:18

streaky I'll PM you. Thank you.

AliceinWinterWonderland Sun 16-Feb-14 10:40:09

Okay, I've just ordered the "what to do when your temper flares" and will read through it before going over it with DS1. Thank you!

streakybacon Sun 16-Feb-14 11:05:00

My email is playing up but as soon as I can sort it I'll get the notes to you.

streakybacon Sun 16-Feb-14 11:23:46

Right, sent from Virgin Media online as Outlook is messing with my head. You may get the email twice but it's better than not at all wink.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Sun 16-Feb-14 11:27:51 has many anger management books for this age group. I'm currently using their "Teaching emotional intelligence", which includes both theory and lesson plan type activities to do each day with my 9, 7, and 4 year old. I thought it would be too childish for the older kids (it involves using stuffed animals to represent feelings and roleplaying with them), but they seem to really enjoy it - even the 9 year old - and the self-talk and roleplaying has seemed to help them. I'm hoping to continue onto Goodbye ouchies and Grouchies afterwards.

Levantine Sun 16-Feb-14 11:31:26

Streaky, thank you that looks absolutely brilliant

I've got a specific thing that I am really stuck on and I don't know if other people have strategies that work and that is what exactly to do when ds is hitting/punching me.

Strategies to reduce anxiety mean it is happening less often that it did, but what exactly should I do? At the moment I don't say much other than stop it, it is not okay to hurt people. I do stay calm and I do stay with him but I feel like I'm getting it all wrong

streakybacon Sun 16-Feb-14 11:36:47

I'll come back to this later - just off to MIL's for lunch but I have some suggestions that worked for ds that might help you.

RightRoyalPainInTheArse Sun 16-Feb-14 11:48:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolterGoose Sun 16-Feb-14 11:54:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RightRoyalPainInTheArse Sun 16-Feb-14 13:09:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AliceinWinterWonderland Sun 16-Feb-14 13:59:12

streaky I got that, thank you! Looks very helpful and I will read through it more closely tonight when the DCs aren't all over the place. hmm

ffodessip Sun 16-Feb-14 14:06:00

School made a half-hearted attempt with ds but it didn't work as the lady doing the work with him made him angry hmm. They tried nothing after that.

streakybacon Sun 16-Feb-14 15:02:09

I found for ds that the key was definitely to reduce his stress levels overall but that wasn't easy without the school's cooperation. I think those with supportive schools will certainly have more success with anger management than those who don't.

As many of you have found, there is little point in trying to address anger when it's in progress. Prevention is the best way forward so you'd need to familiarise yourself with your child's triggers, as well as what they respond to best for calming down. They may not realise these things for themselves and have to be taught to recognise them, and act upon them.

I used a multi-layered approach for ds with lots of linked strategies that had an overall aim of teaching him to recognise degrees of anger and to take responsibility for the consequences of losing control. I used social stories which helped to explain appropriate behaviour and responses to difficult situations, and took advantage of 'in the moment' opportunities to model good stress management. We had one that looked at what would happen in meltdown and emphasised his responsibility for bringing himself out of it, and for any behaviour that happened whilst he was angry. All of these were discussed at quite and calm times so that I could be sure he absorbed the strategies without any anger to distract him.

The Incredible 5-Point Scale was a very useful tool to demonstrate the degrees of control (or lack thereof) from calm to meltdown. We had several, all with different themes depending on ds's interest at the time - Doctor Who, Star Wars, Bionicle, Lord of the Rings... Again we'd go through these at calm times to embed the best approaches and help him recognise where he was on the scale and how to avoid escalation, and hopefully to bring himself down as well.

A key strategy to engage ds was a set of six monthly SMART targets with a significant prize at the end if he achieved them. Early days it was a big Lego set, and the last one we did got him his first mobile phone - it had to be something significant and important to him so that he'd be on board. We'd set four or five key targets for him to aim towards and each week we'd talk about his progress and what we could BOTH do to help him achieve them. This empowered him to recognise that anger control was HIS responsibility but he also knew that I was there to help in any way he needed. There was also a visual line of progress across the room where we talked so he could see how far he was towards his goal, and I think that helped him to understand the aim better.

If he actually did get to meltdown (and oh boy, he did SO often to begin with), we had a 'contract' for what would happen when he lost control completely. We had an agreement that I'd leave him alone in his room (he always retreated to his room and slammed the door behind him) and return after fifteen minutes to ask if he wanted my help, then again after another 15 minutes if he didn't. This gave him time to calm down but it also removed any confusion about expectations if he got into this state, which I'd learned from experience would escalate his frustration and add to the rage. I had printed cards to give to him each time it happened so he knew that this was 'meltdown' and the agreement would kick in.

I also thought it important to engineer lots of achievements because I believe that self-esteem is a key feature in anger. I made him certificates for positive behaviour and we kept them in a file to look at over and over, to remind him how well he was doing. Lots of positive social stories too (it's often forgotten that 50% of social stories should reflect achievement, and not just behaviour modification).

All of the tools I used were created on the computer and I have them all on file, if anyone would like to see them. You'd be welcome to use them as templates if you think they'd be useful for your child. Then again, not all strategies work for all children, and the key is to make everything you do personal to the individual.

There is no quick fix to anger management but it can be done. Ds is 15 now and hasn't lost his temper to a significant degree in about three years. Hard work but worth it smile.

Levantine Sun 16-Feb-14 18:25:48

Wow streaky that is such a helpful post. Thank you so much. I had been about to start a thread on social stories and I might still do so, and the five
point scale is something I want to try too.

Also, just to hear that it did get better is amazing, as my fear is that ds will still be punching me as a teenager. I think my ds would almost definitely respond to a strategy like that. Just this afternoon I showed him the Dawn Huebner book mentioned earlier, and he was really keen. He doesnt want to lose his temper, he can't help it. (I know you know that, but I sometimes have to remind myself)

What sort of things did you have as your SMART targets when you began? And how old was your ds? (mine's 7). Would you really share your templates? that would be fantastic


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