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Helping Parents Understand the Effects of Anger
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In the last section, we discussed Respect for Rules. This has included "Do as I Say, Not as I Do" Mentality, Exceptions and Rationalization.
Do you have a client who is afraid that his or her anger might be taking a toll on his or her child? Does he or she wish to question his or her child about it? What do you recommend?
In this section, we will discuss Assessing the Effects of Your Anger on Your Child. This will include Looking for Danger Signs and Talking to Your Child. As you listen, think of your own techniques. How might you respond in the situations presented in this section?
Have you found... as I have, that many children who live with angry parents may not talk to them about their fears?
Blanche, age 24, came to me about her son Martin, age 7. Blanche stated, "I can’t quite say what sets me off...but Martin must know where my buttons are. No one can set me quite on edge like he can. Once, I remember, I had had a really long day at work. I was stuck in traffic, driving Martin home from school, and I was tired and cranky. I wanted to go home and put my feet up and take a nap... He was asking, ‘Mommy, when will be home? Mommy I’m hungry!’ I could feel my anger rising, and it was like I saw red!
"Why did I have to do... all this work all the time? Why was my husband never home to help? I just started shouting at him to shut up and stop complaining, because it wouldn’t get us home any faster! Afterwards, I felt so terrible...I’m almost scared at my own capacity for anger. I have never hit Martin, but I can see that my anger frightens him, and I don’t want to do that to my little boy. That’s why I came here. Is there any way I can change these patterns before they get any worse?" What might you have said?
2 Areas to Assess the Affects of Anger
♦ #1 Looking for Danger Signs
I stated, "It’s might be helpful to remember that the same situation can affect you and Martin in very different ways. Even something that you experience as a short spat might have a far larger impact on Martin than you’re aware of. I stated, "Because children often can’t communicate their feelings verbally, one of the most effective ways to learn about Martin’s experience is to watch his behavior."
Blanche asked, "What do I need to watch for specifically?" I stated, "There are a few behaviors that are commonly seen in children who are being negatively affected by parental anger. If Martin is afraid to try new things, becomes abusive with other children or siblings, seems depressed or lethargic, resists spending time with you, has problems in school, displays low self-esteem or appears to have little empathy when relating to people who are hurt or sad, these behaviors may be red flags indicating a problem."
Blanche asked, "But I can only learn the things that Martin chooses to tell me...and he might not even be aware of a lot of what’s going on with him..." I stated, "Watching Martin’s behavior can’t give you all the answers, but it can give you more data to consider as you build a fuller picture of the complex dynamic that exists between you."
♦ #2 Talking to Martin
I explained to Blanche that perhaps the best way to assess the effects of anger in her relationship with Martin was to ask direct questions of him. I mentioned to Blanche that if Martin was uncomfortable sharing his experiences with her, she might consider enlisting the help of a third party, such as a therapist or family friend, any adult whom Martin trusted, so that he would have enough support to open up.
I stated, "A few sample questions that you might use with Martin include, ‘Is it scary for you when I get angry?’ ‘Do you feel bad about yourself when I’m angry with you?’ ‘Does your bad feeling last a long time?’ ‘Do you wonder when I’ll get angry?’ ‘Do you know things that get me angry, or is it usually a surprise, where you never know what will upset me?’ ‘When I get angry at you, do you feel scared that I’m going to hurt you?’
You might add your own questions about specific issues that have worried you or made you suspect that Martin is struggling or frightened with the way things are."
Blanche came back after trying these techniques. She stated, "I was so surprised with the clear answers that Martin gave me. He said, ‘Yeah...I get scared when you hold my arm hard and talk loudly...sometimes I feel bad at school when you get mad at me in the morning...I think I’m bad...I never know what makes you angry at me...sometimes you laugh when I don’t like breakfast, but sometimes you get mad about it.’ He took my questions seriously, and I tried to do the same with his answers."
Do you have a client... who has difficulty communicating with his or her child regarding the effects of his or her anger on the child? Might he or she benefit from hearing this section?
In this section, we discussed Assessing the Effects of Your Anger on Your Child. These have included Looking for Danger Signs and Talking to Your Child.
What are two parts to assessing the effects of anger on your child?
To select and enter your answer go to .
This CD set has covered such topics as: shaping attentional styles, communication and children’s responsibility, ambiguous or vague statements, powerless child syndrome, children’s anger as failed communication, the Five Minutes Technique, cleaning up communication styles, communication problem-solving, blowing up at children, misdirected goals, building assertive parent-child communication, respect for rules and assessing the effects of anger.
I hope you have found the information to be both practical and beneficial. We appreciate that you've chosen the Healthcare Training Institute as a means for receiving your continuing education credit.
Other Home Study Courses we offer include: Treating Teen Self Mutilation; Treating Post Holiday Let-Down and Depression; Living with Secrets: Treating Childhood Sexual Trauma; Interventions for Anxiety Disorders with Children and Adults; and Balancing the Power Dynamic in the Therapeutic Relationship.
I wish you the best of luck in your practice. Thank you. Please consider us for future home study needs.