One of the challenges young people face during adolescence is learning how to find constructive ways to manage strong feelings such as anger. The ways that young people understand and express anger are learnt at a young age and reinforced over time by caregivers and other role models.
Young people who struggle to deal effectively with anger might not know the basic facts about anger and be unaware that there are alternatives for how it can be expressed and managed.
Accurate knowledge can dispel unhelpful myths about anger, reduce stigma and support young people to find their own way to deal with it more effectively. Where relevant, it can be helpful for some young people to know that childhood trauma and insecure attachment create additional challenges for people in regulating strong emotions. This can help reduce self-blame and feelings of hopelessness that work against young people finding effective ways to cope better with angry feelings.
It is useful for young people to know:
- The beneficial aspects of anger
- The reasons why people get angry
- The difference between feeling angry and acting on anger (see below)
- Constructive ways to express anger
- The physiological signs of anger
- When anger becomes problematic and unhelpful
- The stages of an anger-related episode
Practitioners can provide more detailed and better customised information for individuals by drawing on the information provided in essential information about anger section of this module.
Help young people understand the difference between feeling anger and anger-related behaviour
Young people can find it difficult to understand the difference between feeling anger and how they express or deal with it.
The following element drawn from CBT can be useful in helping a young person to gain a new understanding of their anger and how it is separate to, but related with particular thoughts and behaviours. Through gaining this knowledge and insight young people can be supported to realise that it is possible to manage their anger in more socially acceptable and beneficial ways.
Most young people will not be familiar with what is known as the Thoughts, Feelings, Behaviours (TFB) Triad. This demonstrates how emotions, thoughts and behaviours interrelate and reinforce each other. The TFB Triad is explained in this element from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. This element also provides education about the basic concepts underpinning Cognitive Restructuring including, thinking styles, negative automatic thoughts, core beliefs, self-schemas and self-defeating beliefs.