Angry? Don't lose it. Use it!
That's an upsetting photo, right? Most of us don't realize how scary our angry faces can be for our children.
But that's the hallmark of anger: we lose perspective. When we're angry, it's because we think we need to protect ourselves from some threat.
We forget that a misbehaving child is not a threat, just a confused or upset young human with an immature brain. We forget that we're escalating the drama by acting in a threatening way ourselves. We forget that our responsibility as a parent is to act like a grown-up, calmly coaching our child so they can learn, grow, and develop the ability to regulate their own emotions and behavior.
When your child's behavior sends you into your own temper tantrum, you'll be sure that your child is the problem. But any time you "lose it" that's a sign that you're triggered.
The definition of being triggered is that old feelings are stirred up, that are making you over-react to the present situation, sending you into a state of emergency (fight, flight or freeze.) Actions you take from that state of fear and anger will never have the result you want. (That result is for your child to learn and grow. That only happens when a child feels safe and connected.)
When you're triggered, you're not thinking rationally. You're not acting like the calm, emotionally generous parent every child deserves, a parent who can coach your child to be their best self.
So the most important thing to remember about anger is this:
Resist acting when you're triggered.
Not easy, right? When you're triggered, you feel like it's an emergency. You're driven to act!
In our last post, we talked about how to cut the drama when your child gets angry and you get triggered: When Your Child's Anger Triggers You.
But what if, like so many parents, you find yourself getting angry often?
That's a message that you need to do some work on yourself. After all, no one ever really "triggers" you. They're your triggers, whether from stress, from your own childhood, or from other life traumas. Your child has simply unearthed them and is giving you the opportunity to heal them.
Life has a way of doling out lessons that we didn't ask for, but which help us develop more wholeness. When we resist those lessons, they land in our lap over and over -- usually with more force -- until we finally tackle them. And children, who trigger our deepest emotions, are often our greatest teachers.
Why not use those episodes when your child pushes your buttons as an opportunity to de-activate them? (Preferably the buttons, not the child.) Here's how.
1. Commit now to using your anger as a learning opportunity, rather than acting on it.
That way, next time you slide into "fight or flight" and your child looks like the enemy, you'll already have made the decision to move away from your child. It's hard to do, but it's always the first step of anger management. And don't worry, it gets easier every time you do it. You're building neural pathways for better self-regulation -- actually re-wiring your brain.
2. When you get angry, hit the pause button.
Shift your attention away from your child, move away, and turn inward. Notice where the anger is in your body. Breathe into it. Hold yourself with compassion. This won't feel good. In fact, you might feel like you're going to hyperventilate, or even vomit. But every time you can breathe through that unbearable feeling without lashing out, you're emptying your emotional backpack so you won't get triggered as easily in the future.
3. Empower yourself.
When you start feeling stuck about some issue with your child, stop focusing on your child's behavior and focus on your own reaction. Write in your journal. Vent to another parent, making sure you focus on your feelings rather than your child's behavior, so you get to the deeper tears and fears beneath your anger. Explore your childhood connections to this issue. How is past trauma or current stress playing a role? What can you do to make things different?
As you unlock your own turmoil and become able to notice the physiological sensations of your emotions and breathe through them -- without taking action -- you release the stuck places in yourself. That means you're unplugging emotionally from the drama with your child.
The result? Your child begins to change, too.
The paradox is that the child seems to be creating the problem, but when we work on our part of it, the problem always diminishes.
- Is that because once we come to peace with the issue, we can set firm but kind limits and help our child with his emotions, instead of adding fuel to the fire?
- Or because when we love ourselves more, we can give our child the unconditional love she needs?
- Or because we're in a spiritual relationship with our children, and they bring us the issues we need to heal inside us?
- Or simply that once we stop pushing our children to be different, they're free to stop resisting, so they start to change?
Regardless, once we melt the tangle in ourselves, our child so often makes a breakthrough too. We both heal and grow.
So today, when you get triggered with your child? Don't lose it. Use it!
And say thanks to your little Zen master, at least in your mind.
Would you like more support to parent this way?
The Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Course Online Course is a self-paced 12-week program that gives you the tools and inspiration you need, to become the parent you want to be. And you can still register for the next Course that begins in September. Think how different your family life could be by New Years!
See this article in Chinese.
Click here to watch Dr. Laura's video: How Parents Can Stop the Cycle of Yelling.
Slow drivers, my children leaving wrappers around the house, putting clothes that have been tried on, but not worn in the hamper, leaving dirty dishes in the sink instead of putting them in the dishwasher, that is RIGHT next to the sink, “borrowing” something of mine without permission and never returning it . . . these are things that just push my buttons! Triggers are either internal or external stimuli that causes an emotional reaction (Abraham, D. 2018). Understanding our triggers and what fuels our emotions helps individuals learn to manage their emotions and cope with those triggers in an effective and beneficial fashion.
It is important for adults and children to understand that everyone has triggers. Zones of Regulation intentionally focus on students identifying their triggers in order to help them apply problem-solving strategies or coping strategies, and/or tools to effectively and appropriately respond to a given trigger (Kuypers, L., 2017). When students are able to identify their triggers, staff can help students regulate around those triggers, remove some triggers when appropriate and give notice, when able, of in impending trigger (Kuypers, L., 2017).
It is beneficial for teachers to work with groups or a class when processing and identifying triggers. Some children who struggle with self-regulation, struggle to understand their triggers or may be reticent regarding triggers, thinking they are themselves the only ones with triggers. When they see that their peers and that even adults have triggers, they may be more open to sharing theirs. Also, once hearing peer triggers, they may gain insight and understanding regarding what sets them off.
There are many ways to work on identification of triggers. You can brainstorm triggers, and I suggest writing them down so students can process that information visually. You can role play different situations and discuss if that situation would be a trigger for you or not. You can use pictures to help students identify what situation or events cause them to go to the yellow or the red zone (Kuypers, L., 2017).
Books are another way to help students work through events and life situations that can provoke negative emotions. Some books to help students with this are:
- Books by Julia Cook:
- I Just Want to do it My Way
- But It's Just a Game
- Soda Pop Head
- I just Don’t Like the Sound of No
- The Worst Day of my LIfe Ever
- Well, I Can Top That
- Millie Fierce by Jane Manning
- The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein
- When Sophie Gets Angry Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang
- When Sophie’s Feels Are Really, Really Hurt by Molly Bang
- On Monday When It Rained by Cherryl Kachenmeister
- The Grouchies by Debbie Wagenbach and Steve Bach
I am sure that at times it feels like students go from 0 - 60 in one second. By understanding their triggers and even our own triggers, we can more effectively “read” our students. Then, we can work with them to intentionally address their triggers and develop individualized plans to cope and self-regulate.
Kuypers, L. (2011). Zones of Regulation: A curriculum designed to foster self-regulation and emotional control. Think Social Publishing. Santa Clara, CA
Abraham, D. (2018). 3 SUPER SIMPLE STEPS TO HELP AN ANGRY CHILD RECOGNIZE TRIGGERS. Retrieved 9/2018 from: https://lemonlimeadventures.com/help-an-angry-child-recognize-triggers/
Kris Baker, Autism Consultant
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Wondering how to help your child with anger? Try this free printable anger buttons worksheet. It's a great anger management activity for kids.
When my son was in grade three, he was seeing a lovely psychologist who introduced us to the term "anger buttons." When she first introduced it to us, I immediately visualized one of those giant red easy buttons like in the Staples commercials. No seriously, I did.
Anyway, she and my son worked together to try and identify his own anger buttons. They spent a few sessions drawing out his anger buttons on a whiteboard and discussing what really pushes his buttons. I think he found the exercise quite helpful, but the only downside to drawing it on the whiteboard is that it can easily be erased and then forgotten about. He also can't exactly take the whiteboard home with him right?
And remember, when it comes to hyperlexia, if it isn't written down, then it might not exist. So this free printable anger buttons worksheet is my solution. He's now able to fill in his anger buttons, hang the sheet up, and remind himself of what triggers his big emotions so that he can build self-awareness around his emotions.
About the Free Anger Buttons PrintableThis free one-page printable allows your child (or maybe even yourself!) to write down a bunch of things or situations that "push your buttons." You know, the things or situations that make you angry. Your triggers. Whatever you want to call them.
Together with your child, brainstorm what makes them really angry or upset. Then print off a copy of the anger buttons sheet so that you can fill in each button with the anger triggers you brainstormed. The buttons could also be colored in, if you'd like, and maybe even color-coordinated so that the biggest triggers are red, medium triggers are orange, etc.
Download the Anger Buttons Printable
You can grab a copy of the printable below.
>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PRINTABLE
No Print Digital Google Slides VersionBelow you will find an interactive no print Google Slides version available for online/remote learning. To get your copy, simply click the link below. You will then be prompted to make a copy.
>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE DIGITAL VERSION ON GOOGLE SLIDES
Other Anger Management Activities & Strategies You'll Love5 Ways to Help an Angry Child Cope with Big Emotions
Free Printable Anger & Frustration Social Script
How to Create the Perfect Calm Down Corner at Home
About the Author
Dyan Robson (She/Her)
Married to her high school sweetheart, Dyan is a Canadian stay-at-home mom to two boys, J and K. When she's not writing about hyperlexia and autism, you can find her teaching piano, kicking her kids' butts at Mario Kart, adding another new board game to her huge collection, whipping something up in one of her Instant Pots, binge reading yet another book, or ranting away in her Instagram stories.
Visually appealing poster to help identify common triggers to negative emotions. A helpful tool for early anger management.
This is a preview of my "Button Pusher" product that includes activities and fun worksheets with 80 creative therapeutic questions to identify triggers, stages of anger, and helpful coping strategies.
• 6 Session Anger Management Group: Angry Claws
• ANGER Porcupine Pokes: Flip Book Art Craft
• ANGER Management Interactive Cut & Paste Activity: Things That Bite
• Anger Activities To Shake Off Your Inner Monster: Task Cards and Worksheets
• Anger Self Control Fortune Tellers
• Anger Self Control-O-Meter Poster
• Anger Self-Control Activities: Cones of Regulation
• Anger Signs & Coping Skills: THE ANGRY SHARK SOCIAL STORY 4 Behavior Management
• Do It Yourself ANGER TOOL BELT craft for your coping skills tool box
• My Anger Road Map: Learning to Identify Triggers and Signs to Manage Anger
To save 20%, check out the Anger BUNDLE.
Copyright © Mental Fills. All rights reserved by author. This product is to be used by the original downloader only. Copying for more than one user is prohibited. This product may not be distributed or displayed digitally for public view. Failure to comply is a copyright infringement and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Clipart and elements found in this PDF are copyrighted and cannot be extracted and used outside of this file without permission or license. See product file for clip-art and font credits.
Your worksheet pushes what buttons
This one. What do you think. I asked Valentine, pointing to a young woman with a small bag containing vegetables. Tomatoes, and decent looking cucumbers, absolutely put his hand on his mother's buttocks, but Samantha prevented. Not yet.Who's Pushing Your Buttons Session 1A with Dr. John Townsend
Are they dead. Ebrand. - transferring at once a stunned look at the busty beauty, Loyal stares at her without blinking. - How so.
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Masha turned off the light, turned on the night light, and climbed under the covers, deciding to read Dunno before going to bed. The next day, Alexander got up with the alarm clock ringing. After breakfast, he went into the room, where he turned on the TV on some kind.
Of program, he had to wait for the evening. And he waited.