Teen Talk: Learning to control anger is a five-step process
Controlling my emotions hasn’t always been my strong suit. When I was 11, my older brother was poking fun at me so I slammed my fist down on his laptop. It broke and I spent the next six months saving up my allowance to buy him a new computer.
The trend has, unfortunately, continued. Just last week, he kept barging into my room so I slammed the door on him and a hairline crack appeared in a panel of the wooden door. Luckily, that mistake could be fixed with five minutes and some wood putty.
Anger is an emotion we teens are familiar with. Maybe we’re under a lot of pressure in school and our temper flares more easily. Maybe acting impulsively and losing control is part of our personality. Maybe short tempers run in the family and we’ve seen our parents or siblings blow a gasket when they’re mad. Whatever the case, anger is usually a secondary emotion that stems from something else, such as jealousy, irritation, fear, humiliation or rejection. When I broke my brother’s computer, I was annoyed and embarrassed at his taunting. When I slammed my door, I was frustrated that he didn’t respect my privacy. By identifying the emotions that are causing our anger, we teens can address our issues and prevent temperamental outbursts.
In order to manage our anger, we teens can employ a five-step process. First, we need to emotionally center ourselves to be able to go forward and appropriately handle the situation. Depending on where we are and how angry we are, this can mean anything from taking a break from a heated discussion to exercising to physically shifting the position of our body to release tension.
Then, we can practice self-awareness by realizing what we’re angry about and why. Directly acknowledging the issue, by writing it down or talking about it with a friend, can help us better identify the problem.
Next, we should use self-control to evaluate our options and their consequences. Rather than acting on our impulses, we can think of at least three different solutions and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
After that, we have to make a decision to choose one of the three options we’ve brainstormed. Determine what would be the most effective solution for the situation we’re in.
Finally, once we’ve carried out our choice, we should reflect on our actions. Did it go as we expected? What could we have done better? What can we take away from this experience for the future?
Looking back to my most recent outburst at my brother, I could have avoided cracking my bedroom door if I had followed our five-step approach to managing anger. Rather than letting my aggravation build until I exploded, I first should have removed myself from the situation, done some deep breathing exercises, or listened to some relaxing music.
Then, I needed to be more aware of my frustration by discussing it with one of my parents or talking about it with a friend.
Next, instead of indulging in my emotions and slamming the door, I could have considered my options, like addressing my brother directly, asking my parents to speak with him, or leaving the room so he would lose interest.
After choosing my course of action, I finally should have reflected on my decision and how it impacted me.
Anger is one of the most common emotions for teens and adults alike, and there will be no shortage of situations in which we encounter it throughout life. Although experiencing anger is a widespread occurrence, we teens must learn how to regulate this emotion to address future conflicts.
We will never be able to control the challenges life entails, but we always will have power over our reaction.
Maria Proulx of Ledyard is a senior at St. Bernard School in Montville.
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