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anger
violent environments
group sessions
anger management
deep sorrow
desperation
way of life
sadness
grief
frustration
emotions
Transforming Anger In Young People
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Transforming Anger In Young People

There is, without a doubt, a great deal of anger being expressed these days.Working with teenagers is one area where you will find young people enraged and, most often, having no idea why they are angry. The single most requested extracurricular class requested by schools these days is Anger Management. And in teaching such classes, I have learned a great deal about what's going on inside teenagers.

Some of what I know brings me deep sorrow. Most of what I know is that young people are dealing with enormous obstacles both in the home and on the streets.

"I was sent to Juvenile Detention for beating up my dad. But I did it because I finally got big enough to protect my mother and my sisters from his violence and abuse."

"All that violence at home just breaks us up. No one should have to live like that."

"I thought it was my fault when my dad beat my mom. So I just hid in my room most of the time. But I thought if I could just act better, it would stop."

"I just pretend I'm somewhere else. I just go away in my mind and pretend I'm not here. I'm somewhere else."

These are only a few of the feelings expressed by the young people in our group sessions. Eventually, most of them will just pretend they are somewhere else. And in that process, they will begin to lose touch with their own emotions.

This is when the expressions of anger begin. This is when the rage takes hold of their beings and begins to control them. They have lost touch with why they are angry and the anger simply becomes a part of who they are. Their teachers reach desperation and express their own frustration in these ways.

"I can't teach when all they do is fight every day."

"These are throwaway kids. They have been in violent environments for so long that violence has become a way of life for them. It's normal to them because they have never seen anything different."

A tragic commentary, indeed. We must begin by trying to help children look underneath their anger and find out what's there. Is it sadness, grief, fear? What's underneath their rage? Their anger does not just appear. It comes from a place deep inside and in there is the primary emotion that is feeding the rage.

Young people do not yet have the strength of will to manage anger. Instead, they must find ways to transform it into positive inner strength. This can be done, but it must be done with gentle adult guidance, activities that encourage creativity and inner exploration, consistency and time. Enraged children, more than anything else, need our time and our commitment to not simply punish the angry behavior, but to help them find ways to transform the rage that fuels that behavior.


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