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Children's book: How to Deal with Anger

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(AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

Julie Fielder wrote a 2007 book for children called How to Deal with Anger

Although it’s a children’s book, information about anger is just as valid and important for adults as it is for kids.

Below are some great points made by the book as well as points on which the author and I disagree.

Great points include the following:

  • You can learn how to control your anger; you don't have to let your anger control you.
  • It is important to gain insight into what makes you angry.
  • Talking about anger in a safe environment is a good way to release it.
  • Pent-up anger can start to cause physical symptoms such as headaches, or behavioral problems such as overeating or lashing out at others.
  • It can be helpful to release anger through exercise or other strenuous physical activity.

Below are some points on which the author and I disagree:

  1. The book teaches that “different situations” can make you frustrated or angry. From a cognitive behavioral perspective, no situation has the power to make you angry. Your own perception of a situation determines whether you will feel angry, scared, sad, guilty, or whatever other emotion might arise. As Epictetus wrote centuries ago, “Man is not disturbed by events, but by the view he takes of them.” We can’t change many situations in our lives, but we can absolutely change our perception of those situations, and that is where our power lies.
     
  2. The book teaches that anger “can get so bad that you might lose control.” This lesson suggests to me that there is a point where people understandably and justifiably lose control over their anger. I heard this rationale pretty regularly when I was working with offenders at a Level 3 maximum security prison. They would say that when someone “makes” them angry, then they simply lose control and “can’t help it;” that’s just the way they are. When someone loses control, it just means they haven’t learned how to control their anger; it has nothing to do with an objective evaluation of how "bad" the anger was. One person can calmly deal with a situation even when very angry, while another lashes out at the slightest provocation.  
     
  3. The book teaches that when you get angry, you should “count to 10.” This is very common advice, but does it work? Countless participants from years of anger management workshops have repeatedly insisted that they are just as angry when they reach “10” as they were when they started at “1.” Could this be an urban legend about anger that just keeps getting passed from generation to generation?

If you’re looking for a book to help teach your children about anger, I hope this review is useful to you! All of our kids can benefit from learning about this important topic.
 

Twitter.com/DrDebBrown

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