Two children in the Mid-South have died at the hands of angry fathers and boyfriends recently. These victims were young children — little ones under the age of 3. Such violent outbursts leave families devastated. The life of an innocent child is lost, and the life of an adult is irrevocably altered.
Because parents didn't know how to control their anger.
Anger can be an all-consuming emotion. It sometimes sneaks up on us, flaring fast and furious. And children can become the target. To check anger, you've got to recognize its triggers. Here are five steps you can take to help diffuse anger before you hurt someone else.
1. RECOGNIZE YOUR RED FLAGS
Pay attention the next three times you get mad. Consider how you feel 15, 10, and 5 minutes before an angry outburst. You might feel: worried about getting out of the house on time, tense or hurried, hassled, impatient. Your voice will become louder, sharper, and you'll feel agitated.
2. TAKE YOUR MIND OFF YOUR ANGER BY USING A DISTRACTOR
Anger causes physical tension and energy. A distractor helps relieve tension before you lose control. Consider vigorous walking, running in place, hitting a pillow or punching bag, taking 10 slow, deep breathes, phoning a friend or a counseling hotline.
3. SORT OUT THE CAUSE OF YOUR ANGER
There are usually underlying causes anger. These can be both physical and psychological.
Physical: Lack of sleep, need for exercise, too much caffeine or sugar, depression, irritability.
Psychological: Worry, negative thoughts, relationship troubles, unrealistic expectations, stress, a child acting out, this behavior was modeled by your parents.
Ask yourself why you feel angry. Then think of alternate solutions to acting on that impulse.
4. TALK ABOUT WHY YOU FEEL ANGRY
Express your feelings to someone else. Call a friend, or speak with a professional counselor. Crisis centers have trained counselors on-hand to speak with people who are struggling with personal problems. • Crisis Center: 274-7477
5. ANALYZE YOUR THINKING
Anger can spring from feeling powerless. But many of us have wrong assumptions about life. Some of these are:
• It's my right to be happy. Happiness and joy are different. Happiness is a response to circumstances going the way you want them to go. Joy is an inward response of taking responsibility for meeting your needs.
• Someone else should meet my needs. We cannot make someone else fully responsible for meeting our needs. That is largely up to us.
• If I don't say yes to everyone's request, then I'm not valuable or lovable. That gives power to other people who don't know what's best for you. Make your own decisions. Take pride in your accomplishments, acknowledge to yourself when you've made a good decision. This type of positive talk will empower you and help lessen your feelings of anger.
For more help on anger management, go to kidshealth.org.
Kathy Collard Miller contributed to this story. Learn more at larryandkathy.com