Adults are not the only candidates for anger management programs. Many schools, therapeutic programs and social service organizations have developed children’s anger management programs. Instead of eliminating anger, these special services share the goal of helping children respond to the physiological impulses that anger causes. Then, children can employ strategies ranging from physical actions to self-talk that help them control their outbursts.
The Texas Youth Commission outlines the components of the RETHINK, an acronym that stands for Recognizing causes of anger; Empathizing with others’ points of view; Thinking about what makes you angry; Hearing the other person’s perspective; Integrating anger with respect and love; Noticing your physical responses in stressful situations; and Keeping conversations focused on the present moment. The program trains parents, youth leaders, teachers and counselors how to coach children through difficult situations with relaxation skills and problem-solving techniques.
The Northeast Foundation for Children supports a responsive classroom program for teaching social skills and promoting conflict resolution. The program can help children manage their anger and utilize alternative strategies in challenging situations. The process entails following four easy-to-remember steps for children. First, they must stop the aggressive action or behavior. A teacher or conflict resolution captain, often a child from the highest grade at the school, may need to support children with this part of the process, at least at first. Second, they must say what the conflict concerns. Third, they must think of positive choices. Fourth, they must agree on an option, or get outside assistance to help them reach consensus.
One of the most comprehensive curricular anger management programs is Second Step. This year-long violence prevention curriculum covers every elementary grade level. It features a kit consisting of a range of pictures, backed with scripts and activities. Children use the images to discuss emotions, role-play situations, build community, solve problems and, gradually, learn how to treat one another respectfully and with empathy.