|SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center|
Train Your Temper
Everybody gets angry sometimes. Being angry doesn't really solve much — but what people do when they feel angry is important. The goal is to calm yourself down and try to solve whatever problem is bothering you. This is hard for some kids (and adults, too). Instead of calming down, some kids might keep getting more and more upset until they explode like a volcano!
Some kids get angry more often or more easily than some other kids. Their anger might be so strong that the feeling gets out of control and causes them to act in ways that are unacceptable and hurtful. People might say kids like this have a temper, which is a term for acting all angry and out of control. When people say that someone has trouble controlling their temper, they usually mean that a kid misbehaves when feeling angry or frustrated.
Some kids might get so angry that they scream at their mom or dad, punch the wall, slam doors, break something, or — worse yet — hit a brother or sister. Kids are allowed to express their feelings, even angry ones, but it's not OK for a kid to do any of those things. Kids don't want to (or mean to) act this way — but sometimes angry feelings can be hard to manage. So what do you do if you're a volcano kind of a kid and your temper is getting you into trouble?
Arf! Try This!
Well, the good news is that kids don't just have to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. You can train your temper the same way you might train a puppy. Huh? That's right, we said a puppy.
If you've ever played with puppies, you know they are sweet but a little out of control. Their tails wag furiously and they might tear apart your sneakers or nip at the mailman's behind. Oh dear, what can you do with your puppy? Training is the answer.
In the same way, you can train your temper. Imagine your temper as a puppy inside you that needs some training. The puppy is not bad — it will probably turn out to be a great dog. It just needs to learn some rules because, right now, that puppy is causing some problems for you.
You don't want to keep getting in trouble for the way you act when you're angry. You probably even feel bad afterward if you've hurt someone's feelings or broken a toy you liked. So let's get that puppy trained.
Here are steps to take anytime, even when you're not angry:
The real test comes the next time you get so mad you could just explode. But don't explode. Put a leash on that puppy with these four steps:
A Tough Question
What if it's a problem that can't be solved? Like being angry about your parents' divorce, or having to go to summer school, or wanting a later bedtime? Or when you just can't get your way about something? Some stuff kids get angry about can't be changed. For instance, if your mom says it's time to stop playing your videogame and go to bed, what can you do? She's not changing her mind and you have to get some sleep. Man, that really stinks! You were almost to level 4!
But even if you get really angry, she won't budge. And even if you knock over a chair, you'll still have to stop playing your game. But now you might have an extra penalty for knocking over the chair. Maybe she'll say you aren't allowed to play your game tomorrow! That would be very bad news — you'd have to wait even longer to get to level 4.
Though it's one of the toughest things to learn, it might be best just to tell yourself, "OK, stop the game and get to bed." Some arguments you'll be able to win, but this probably isn't one of them.
That doesn't mean you'll never get your way. You will be able to get your way sometimes. Bigger kids, like you, can learn to make their points calmly without losing it. This approach usually works better with everyone, especially parents. When you do this, you're controlling that wild little puppy inside you. You're in charge instead of that little rascal with the wagging tail.
Have you been wondering why we asked you to think of your temper as a puppy? A puppy is young and loveable — just like you — and wonderful to be around, especially when it keeps its temper under control!
Reviewed by: Jennifer Shroff Pendley, PhD