Step Teach How to Express Frustrations Appropriately

Many kids are quick-tempered because they have never learned ways to stay in control and to express their frustrations in a healthy manner. Find one that works best for your kid, and then help him practice it again and again until he learns it and can use it without your guidance. Here are three possibilities:

• Say how you feel. Younger kids or those with limited language skills can say how they feel to their offender.You must teach your kid an emotion vocabulary so she can express how she feels (such as angry, upset, mad, frustrated, furious, stressed, tense, nervous, anxious, irritated, furious, ticked off ).A complete list is provided on page 191.Then encourage her to use her feeling words whenever her temper starts to flare: "I'm mad" or "I'm really, really angry."

• Use an "I message." Once your child knows emotion words, he can use them to tell the other person how he feels or what he wants the other to do. The statement must be delivered calmly and focus on the problem. No name-calling or put-downs are allowed because they just fuel the other person's temper: "I'm angry that you took my CD without asking. Next time ask my permission." Or "I am really feeling stressed about this test coming up, so I need some space."

• Talk to someone about it. Sometimes it may be counterproductive or even destructive to confront someone with your anger, especially on the spot, just after something has happened to provoke it. So talk to your kids about when to stuff it and vent elsewhere, a useful technique especially for preteens and teens.

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