John Cowan - The Anger Rules

Publish Date
Friday, 8 July 2016, 11:56AM
By John Cowan

You’d think the first rule would be “Don’t get angry”  but that is just not possible. Anger will happen, but it’s the way kids learn to handle it as a child that will determine so much about how successful their lives will be. These rules are useful mainly because they give kids guidelines on what to do – it may take them years to get on top of anger but at least the rules point them in the right direction. 

It’s okay to feel angry, but the rules are:

  • Don’t hurt others
  • Don’t hurt things
  • Don’t hurt yourself
  • Do talk about it.

‘Cooling off’ time is time-out to help children handle their hot feelings and settle down. It takes a number of forms. You might send them to their room for 5 minutes, get them to sweep the drive, or even go for a walk.  For a really stressed child who needs support when they feel out of control, cooling off may require you to hold them closely and firmly.  You might offer a choice: “Do you want to cool off in your room, in the chair, or by sitting close to me?”

After the ‘flooding’ of emotion has settled down through using ‘cooling off’ time, help your child to tell himself the sort of messages that will help him handle things better in the future. It might be things like“It’s OK if everything doesn’t always go my way, I will still survive.” “I can try again, and maybe it will work this time.” or “It doesn’t matter if everyone doesn’t like me. I have two friends. That’s OK. I will survive.”

I still battle with anger – many of us do. With good training, maybe our kids will get even better at controlling it than we do.

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