What is anger management?

“Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, & in the right way –this is not easy.” Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics (in Goleman (1995) Emotional Intelligence)

Effective anger management can help young people understand their anger and learn constructive ways to handle and express it. This involves enabling young people to:

  • Identify the triggers for their anger and the early warning signs for when it is getting stronger and more difficult to control
  • Learning techniques to calm down and manage the situation before it gets out of control.

It is not possible to avoid feeling anger, nor would it be beneficial. Rather than suppress anger, contemporary approaches to anger management:

  1. Focus on changing people’s relationship with anger and their responses to it. This requires an ability to acknowledge feeling angry without becoming consumed by it or acting on it (Eifert, McKay & Forsyth, 2006)
  2. Are tailored to the community and cultural norms that influence each young person and their family
  3. Are sensitive to the developmental stage and needs of each young person

Anger management also includes enabling the young person and those involved in their care to respond effectively risk issues where there is immediate potential for harm (Neill, 2010). This includes managing the risk that a young person’s anger can do them harm or cause harm to others.