There are systemic influences on the development of anger-related behaviour problems just as there are on each young person’s capacity to achieve the goal of managing their anger better. A systematic approach enables a practitioner to locate a young person’s anger within the context of relationships and their environment. This demonstrates that anger-related problems and their solutions are not solely the responsibility of the young person.
The Framework for Resilience Based Intervention provides a useful model for identifying and understanding these systemic influences. Greater control over health compromising issues and behaviours such as anger-related problems is one of five domains of need identified in the framework.
The following is a description of the resources and assets that are useful in helping young people and those involved in their care to increase control of anger-related problems.
Protection from harm, capacity to respond effectively to crisis and the ability to meet basic needs all create stability and reduce the exposure of young people to potentially frustrating circumstances. Material resources such as safe physical environments, income, housing, food and clothing, access to information technology and adequate transportation all play a part in enabling young people to maintain stability and reduce frustration. Some young people connect with and access enabling places (Duff, 2011) that engender feelings of security and belonging. These places can help reduce tension and be a calming influence. Caring guardians can offer guidance and support plus appropriate discipline and monitoring. This provides structure and containment that can have the effect of engendering a sense of security and coherence.
A young person’s family or carers can have a key role in building their capacity to achieve the goal of managing their anger better (See Aspect 9: Family-based approaches) Broader social networks comprised of peers and interested adults are also a potential source of support, care and reinforcement. It should also be mentioned that young people’s social networks can also contribute to anger problems and these influences should be constrained as much as possible.
Participation in purposive, rewarding activity and physical exercise prevents or moderates the effects of stress and builds frustration tolerance.
Some young people might require expert assistance to deal with their anger-problems. Youth AOD practitioners can link young people to effective treatment services and make sure they are positioned to make the most of the services that are available.
Knowledge skills and attributes
Most anger management strategies outlined within this module concentrate on how practitioners can help young people to develop and utilise the knowledge and skills that have proven to be effective in controlling anger.This primary focus is on self-management skills requires a degree of insight and the capacity to regulate emotions and arousal, solve problems and make sound decisions. Young people who find a way to make sense of their experiences and put them into context are also less prone to frustration and becoming angry. Young people in good physical health, with good nutrition and adequate sleep will find it easier to control their anger.
Interpersonal skills are also very useful in anger management work as they shape the quality of one’s experience with others. Self and other awareness is the foundation of good communication and the ability to be assertive and negotiating solutions to interpersonal problems. The ability to find a balance between personal needs and the needs of others is very useful in minimising the number of anger-related events one might encounter.
Self-care knowledge and skills and a degree of resourcefulness help young people have healthy and sustainable functioning and negotiate for the resources they need so as not to be stressed and frustrated
Young people’s core beliefs or schemas about themselves (self-efficacy and self-esteem), other people and their life opportunities are often influential in how angry feelings are engendered and managed. The same is true for the values and attitudes they hold. Beliefs, values and attitudes determine how people interpret their experiences and underlie their behavioural response. Young people with a relatively positive and stable self-evaluation and world-view have been found to be more capable of assimilating threatening external events without experiencing excessive negative arousal (Gilligan, 2000). Within this module, Aspect 2 investigates practical coping strategies that can be used to alter the automatic thoughts and unhelpful thinking styles that are likely to trigger an angry response in young people and justify problematic anger related behaviour.
For further information on this subject practice see the module Creating Helpful Beliefs and Values.