Anger is necessary for our survival, according to the American Psychological Association, and aggression is a natural response to anger. It allows us to defend ourselves when we are attacked. Children, who are naturally more impulsive than adults, can have a more difficult time managing anger, which can result in acting out against everyone or everything that is even mildly irritating. At this point, anger becomes a problem. Fortunately, there are a number of programs and tools that can be used to help young kids learn to manage their anger and aggression.
Anger Management Programs for School and Home
The BeCool Programs actually consists of three different programs based on grade level. The BeCool - Lower Elementary Program focuses on kindergarten through third grade and the BeCool - Upper Elementary Program focuses on fourth and fifth grades.
These two programs are similar in terms of their curricula.
- They each contain five modules, or lessons, that deal with coping with criticism, teasing, bullying, anger in others and anger in self.
- They focus on three types of possible responses: hot (blowing up), cold (giving up), or cool (being in control).
- Each program consists of five DVDs, with instruction and real-life situations to discuss, a poster, and a teacher's guide for each module.
The third BeCool program is the BeCool Losing It! Middle School Bridge, which is designed for grades four through six. This program is a little different than the other two programs in that it contains four modules -- two that focus on disrespect and two that focus on frustration and rejection.
The Losing It! program focuses more on teaching older children how to assess a situation and use self-talk to maintain self-control. It comes with four DVDs, a poster and a teaching manual with each module.
These programs are meant to be used at school rather than at home. Each of the three programs costs $599 but can be used an unlimited number of times within a school district.
Angries Out Program
The Angries Out program is a free program of information for children, parents, and teachers regarding how to constructively deal with anger. The main goal of the program to provide alternatives to aggression and to help children learn more about themselves and the person they are angry with in order to do positive things with anger. This program can be used with elementary school children in grades K-5.
On the program's website, there are:
- Free downloads, activities, letters from children who have successfully learned to deal with their anger, and interactive videos
- Information for children, parents, and teachers, as well as detailed lesson plans for teachers to use in class
- Information on helping parents control their anger, anger in families, discipline, parenting, divorce, and domestic violence
Additional resources such as kits, lesson plans and books are available for purchase.
Anger management programs can also be found in books, which are good low-cost options for home and school. Three books that designed to be used as a curriculum with printable activities include:
- Coping with Conflict: An Elementary Approach by Diane Senn and Gwen Sitsch contains lessons with conflict resolution activities and information for parents.
- Seeing Red: An Anger Management and Peacemaking Curriculum for Kids has lessons that deal not only with anger, but also with leadership, social skills, and self-esteem.
- A Volcano in My Tummy: Helping Children to Handle Anger works especially well with younger children - ages five or six and up.
Additionally, while Hot Stuff to Help Kids Chill Out: The Anger Management Book by Jerry Wilde is not a book that is meant to copy worksheets and use with a class, it can be used in a classroom setting. The main value of this book is its use of humor, which tends to engage children in a subject where it can be difficult to gain cooperation. The book does contain journaling prompts and activities that can be adjusted to use with a group.
Other Teaching Resources
There are a few websites that provide a variety of activities that can be used to teach anger management, though they do not provide a specific curriculum. A parent or teacher would need to use some creativity in order to format the activities into a structured program, but the activities are too good not to mention.
- Licensed counselor Kim Peterson has done the work to gather 50 anger management activities and compile them in one list. Most of the activities are hands-on, which really engages students in learning.
- FreePrintableBehaviorCharts.com provides free printable anger worksheets and activities which can be used to develop a program individualized to a child or classroom.
Finding Local Anger Management Programs
Many counseling agencies also provide anger management groups for children in their office. Marriage and Family Therapy of New York, the Exchange Club Family Center in Memphis, and the County of San Diego Behavioral Health Department are a few examples.
There are several ways to find an anger management group in your area.
- Contact your local county health department. Most health departments have a child and adolescent mental health program. Even if they do not have an anger management program, they tend to be wonderful sources of information for services in the area and can give you a referral.
- Your State Child Welfare Agency, although generally dealing with child abuse, can also be a good place for referrals.
- You can do an online search for therapists specializing in anger management. Websites such as the National Anger Management Association and Therapy Tribe allow you to search for therapists who specialize in anger management by zip code.
- You can also get a list of covered therapists from your insurance company to determine which therapists work with children. You can compare the names with the names from the above websites or contact them to see if they specialize in anger management.
Early Intervention Is Key
Although violence in schools has decreased steadily between 1992 and 2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, any violence in school is too much. Research has shown that the earlier that intervention is given, the more resilient and the less violent a child tends to be, according to FindYouthInfo.gov.
Anger management skills are just that - skills. They are learned. Whether you choose a program that uses videos or books, or one that you design on your own, the earlier you teach these skills, the more options these kids will have.