Does your child struggle with anger management?
Think of what your child’s anger looks like. Slamming doors? Throwing fits? Resisting you? Withdrawing into silence?
Whatever form it takes, anger can become a damaging pattern if it becomes constant.
This easy activity can break the cycle of anger and begin a new, more supportive pattern: It’s called an Anger Walk.
How an Anger Walk works
It’s like a regular walk, with a few specific guidelines. The only people invited are you and your child and you should read these three steps before you go:
Step #1. Invite the expression of anger.
Ask your child:
“Tell me everything you’re angry about lately. I want to hear all of it.” Inviting your child to feel angry may seem counterintuitive if they’re angry often.
But what you’re really doing is inviting emotion.
Tell your child it’s okay to be angry and that you want to hear every single thing they’re angry about—doesn’t matter how big or how small.
By allowing them to express their anger about whatever they want, you also open the opportunity for them to express other emotions that they need to process.
Step #2. Listen without judgment or advice.
As you allow your child to speak, you may hear anger directed at you.
Don’t defend or explain yourself yet.
Your main purpose on this walk is to hear and validate your child.
Validating a child’s emotion is not the same thing as agreeing that what your child says is true. It is just the act of saying and feeling, “You’re angry about that. I get that. I hear you.” Sometimes, the very act of validating defuses the anger altogether.
Step #3. Take (and allow) responsibility.
When your child has finished, address their concerns.
If you heard anger directed at you, take your child’s comments seriously. Take responsibility for anything you should have done differently. Apologize.
By being the first one in the conversation to do this, you model accountability to your child. Invite them to take responsibility for the situations they have created. Express your confidence that they can create the life they want so they don’t need to feel angry.
Do YOU need help on how to deal with anger?
You can use this technique to manage your own anger! Find yourself a walking buddy (who isn’t your child) and go through this process yourself.
I invite you to go on an Anger Walk completely open to the possibilities. You’ll find healing if you walk down that path.