Can earlier intervention help children deal with anger? – Words by Hayley Sherwood of 1 Decision

As we approach the season of goodwill, National Anger Awareness Week (1st-7th December) is well placed in the calendar to shine a light on anger as a social issue which needs to be brought out into the open and addressed effectively.

Last year the British Association of Anger Management created an innovative ‘Keep Your Cool Over Yule Kit’ for use by individuals, organisations, families, schools and other groups. It consisted of anger management activities, as well as tips on handling anger appropriately and calming strategies for diffusing difficult situations.

Whether it is in the Christmas period or at any other time of the year, we are often hijacked by our feelings and emotions. This can potentially cause a tremendous amount of damage, not least in schools and for children in the classroom or on the playground, so the purpose of Anger Awareness Week is to help people to deal effectively with this powerful emotion.

In my experience, anger awareness and anger management is all about early intervention and changing learned behaviour with regard to certain feelings and emotions. Many children do not recognise anger; they see it as a natural impulse.

Our 1decision videos on anger management equip primary school children with the knowledge and skills to manage this emotion. We look at how children feel in their body when they are angry and challenge them to respond appropriately rather than being aggressive or violent. It is also about saying that being angry is sometimes OK, but it is how we react that is key.

Through our feelings and emotions module we do lot of work on anger management techniques, including looking at mindfulness techniques. One practical exercise is breathing through the diaphragm and being in a relaxed and calm mind. If we can do all of this at an earlier stage of their development, children are less likely to be violent in secondary schools.

There is no doubt that children go through a lot of emotional stuff in the real and increasingly online worlds. We need to help them manage this so it does not become a greater mental health issue, which can lead to more drastic scenarios such as self-harming and worse if they do not manage their anger appropriately.

Hayley Sherwood is creator of 1decision, part of Headway learning resources