Anger Management for Teens
Anger Management for Teens: Conflict Resolution

How does conflict resolution work?

Most conflict resolution programs follow a series of steps that include:

1.     Setting ground rules. Agree to work together and set rules such as no name-calling, blaming,
yelling or interrupting.

2.     Listening. Let each person describe their point of view without interruption. The point is to
understand what a person wants and why they want it.

3.     Finding common interests. Establish facts and issues that everyone can agree on and
determine what is important to each person.

4.     Brainstorming possible solutions to the problem. List all options without judging them or
feeling that they must be carried out. Try to think of solutions where everyone gains something.

5.     Discussing each person’s view of the proposed solutions. Negotiate and try to reach a
compromise that is acceptable to everyone involved.

6.     Reaching an agreement. Each person should state his or her interpretation of the agreement.
Try writing the agreement down and checking back at a later time to see how it is working.

What you can do?

Learn ways to resolve conflicts peacefully and encourage your friends to do the same. Find out
about conflict resolution programs in your school or community. In addition:

·        Figure out what methods work for you to control your anger

·        Talk to an adult you trust if you feel intensely angry, fearful or anxious.

·        Do not carry weapons or associate with people who do. Weapons escalate conflicts and
increase the chances of serious harm.

·        Avoid or be cautious in places or situations where conflicts tend to arise, such as crowded
hallways, bathrooms, or unsupervised places in a school.

·        Reject taunts for a fight and find a compromise to a dispute rather than resorting to violence.

·        Decide on your options for handling a problem when conflict arises, such as talking the
problem out calmly, staying away from certain people, or getting others involved to settle a dispute,
such as a teacher, peer mediator, or counselor.

·        Understand that retaliation (getting back at someone in a violent way) is not an effective way
to respond to teasing, insults, rough play, and offensive touching (pushing, grabbing, shoving,
slapping, kicking or hitting).

What are some ways to deal with anger?

Some people choose to ignore or bottle up anger, but this approach may actually cause more harm
because the root problem is never addressed. Instead, try to manage anger so it can become a
more positive emotion.

Here are some ideas:

==> Relax. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm (your belly, not your chest) and slowly repeat a
calming word or phrase like "take it easy." Think of relaxing experiences, such as sitting on a beach
or walking through a forest.

==> Think positively. Remind yourself that the world is not out to get you, but rather you’re just
experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life.

==> Problem-solve. Identify the specific problem that is causing the anger and approach it
head-on, even if the problem does not have a quick solution.

==> Communicate with others. Angry people tend to jump to conclusions. Slow down and think
carefully about what you want to say. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. At times,
criticism may actually be useful to you.

==> Manage stress. Make sure to set aside personal time to deal with the daily stresses of school,
activities, and family. Ideas include:

o        Listening to music
o        Writing in a journal
o        Exercising
o        Meditating
o        Talking about your feelings with someone you trust.

==> Change the scene. Maybe a change of environment would help reduce angry feelings. For
example, if your friends are angry frequently and/or make you angry, consider making some new
ones who may contribute more to your self-confidence and well-being.

Someone took your seat at lunch or pushed ahead of you in line. Your best friend wants
you to let her cheat off your test paper. A guy in math class called you...something not so
nice. Sometimes it seems like life is a sea of problems — and your ship is sinking.

In every situation, everyone sees things differently and wants to do things their way. And it's normal
for people to believe they are right, which leads to disagreements. Problems are never fun — but
they can help you to have a good discussion and you can work things out. Clearing the air will help
you learn more about your friends, your family...even yourself. Solving problems in the right way
also can help you get through them quickly and easily, and stop them from getting out of control,
or even violent. If sparks do start to fly, you have the power to put out the fire. The next time you
have an issue on your hands, don't explode or let someone walk all over you.

Some kids deal with problems or situations by avoiding them. They might always give in to other
people, or just pretend the problems aren't there. Others confront problems head on and try to
make other people see it their way or do what they want. The best way to work through problems
is by understanding how the other person feels. What's your style? Are you totally cool or hot

The good news is that your style isn't set in stone — you can exchange it for one that works better!
The same thing doesn't work for every situation — so try something new if your old way isn't cutting
it. Everyone — can learn how to deal better with situations, people, or things that make them mad.
Realize that anger is a reaction and that your reaction to a situation determines the outcome.

In other words, you can choose how you respond to things that upset you. How you look at a
situation can determine whether you become angry or not. By recognizing the chain of reactions
that builds up to anger, you can break the cycle and keep your cool, even in the hottest situations.

Lots of times, problems start when someone doesn't understand where another person is coming
from. (Remember the last time someone got mad at you for what seemed like no reason?) So, if
you're confused about why someone is acting a weird or mean, find out why. Talk, e-mail, IM, send
a text message! When they tell you, listen, really listen. And if someone tries to make you mad on
purpose, just ignore them or ask them why. No one controls your feelings but you!

1. Take some deep breaths and concentrate on relaxing your body with each breath.
2. Count to 10 slowly.
3. Think before you react — what are consequences of your actions?
4. Keep your voice "low and slow."
5. Leave the scene. Remove yourself from the situation — leave the room for a minute or take a
short walk.

Ever notice how quickly people get angry? It seems like people can go from totally happy to totally
ticked-off in no time at all. In fact, the feeling of anger is actually a series of reactions that happen
in just 1/30th of a second.

The amazing thing about anger is that it's not a basic emotion like, say, happiness. It is actually a
secondary emotion and it is supposed to help keep you safe and protect you from danger — the
fight or flight response! But if it gets out of hand or if you try to ignore it, it can lead to some
serious issues.

Here's how to break the chain:

Stop it at the first spark.
Lots of things can trigger anger, like losing a soccer game, having to deal with your bossy little
sister, or your computer crashing when you're in the middle of IM'ing your pals or writing a school
paper. The important thing is to figure out what is really making you angry. Is it the same thing
every time or do different things bring you to the boiling point? If it is always the same situation,
person, or thing, try to avoid it. And if you can't avoid them (cuz' you know your little sister isn't
going anywhere), think of different ways you can keep from getting angry. Instead of hurling the
computer out the window, think about how you avoid it crashing to begin with, like not having your
email and a game going at the same time. If losing the soccer game has got your goat, use your
anger as motivation to improve your skills.

Hey, man! What's it all mean?
So, snaps for figuring out how to spot the things you know make you angry. But, your little sister
is still driving you nuts. Since she's staying put, you've got to figure out a way to handle your anger
that won't make things worse. This brings us to the second link in the chain. To avoid it, all you
need to do is try to look at things from her point of view — you're older and she wants to hang
with you because she thinks you're cool. With that in mind, it's easier to keep your cool. Spend
some time just with her so that she won't need to stalk you when all your friends are over. You
might even find out that she's not half bad. By changing the way you deal with her and under-
standing her point of view, you can break the anger chain before you even notice you're mad!

Blood's a boilin'
Well, ok, but your still furious. You've tried to change your reactions to the things that you know
make you crazy, you're busy looking at everything from everyone else's point of view, but you can
still feel your temperature is rising. Well, that's you're body responding to your feelings. You get hot
and your muscles might start to tighten and you start breathing harder. Don't let it get the best of
you — there are things you can do to stay in control. Take some deep breaths, focus on relaxing
your muscles, and s-l-o-w down!

Talkin' to yourself?
The next link in the chain comes when you catch yourself thinking or saying something in reaction to
what's happening to make you mad. We've all done it — we think things like "He's so stupid" or say
to a friend "You're always so mean!" before we can stop ourselves. If you catch yourself doing this,
take a minute to think. Try to remember that your dealing with a person who may not know how you
feel. Stay calm. Lashing back won't get you anywhere. So try to talk to your friend, let him know he
hurt your feelings, and then try to move on.

What you've got to do with it.
The way you feel in a situation depends on your background — you may be used to people keeping
their feelings in and not talking about them, or you may be used to people exploding and yelling
when they are angry. Neither of these reactions is necessarily good. People who bottle up their
feelings can end up exploding later, or become depressed. People who vent and yell just tend to
keep the anger cycle in motion. The trick is to deal with your anger so that you can learn how to
not get riled up in the first place. Try these suggestions to help you stay calm, cool, and collected.

  • Go for a walk
  • Write down your feelings on a piece of paper, then tear it up and throw it away
  • Face the mirror and practice talking to the person that you are mad at

Take a moment.
Stepping back from the whole mess gives everyone a chance to cool down and think. When you're
having a problem with someone, first take some time to understand your own thoughts and
feelings. What's really the issue? For example, do you feel like you're not getting enough respect?
What do you want? Why?

Next, find a time to work out the problem with the other person. Pick a quiet place where it's easy
to talk. Make sure to give yourself enough time. (Out by the school buses 15 minutes before soccer
practice probably isn't a good choice!)

Set the tone.
The "tone" is the mood of the talk. When you wake up in a bad mood, it can spoil the whole day,
right? You want to make sure that your talk at least starts off with a good mood. Just saying "Let's
work this out" can make a huge difference!

Agree on the problem.
Take turns telling your sides of the story. You can't solve a problem if you don't really understand
everything that's going on.

When it's your turn, see how calm you can be. Speak softly, slowly, and firmly. No threats (like "If
you don't shut up, I'll...), because they can raise the problem to a whole new level-a bad one. No
need to get all excited or mad!

Try giving your point of view this way: "I feel ____(angry, sad, or upset) when you____ (take my
stuff without permission, call me a name, or leave me out) because___ (you should ask first, it hurts
my feelings, or makes me feel lonely)." This really works to get people to listen, because they don't
feel like you're judging them. Check out the difference. You could say "You're always late to pick me
up!" or "I feel embarrassed when you pick me up late because all of my friends leave right on time
and it seems like no one remembered me." You can also try just stating the facts. Instead of saying
"You're a thief!" try "Maybe you picked up my shirt by mistake."

When it's the other person's turn, let them explain. Listen. Don't interrupt. Try to understand where
they're coming from. Show that you hear them. When people aren't getting along, each person is
part of the problem — but most of us tend to blame the other person. When you've done some-
thing wrong, be ready to say you're sorry.

The goal is to decide together what the real issues are. Do not pass "Go" until you do that.
It's huge!

Think of solutions.
Take turns coming up with ways to solve the problem. Get creative. Usually, there are lots possible
solutions. Next, talk about the good and bad points of each one.

Make a deal.
Then, choose a solution that you both can agree on. Pick an idea that you both think will work. Get
into the specifics — talk about exactly who will do what and when you'll do it. Everyone should give

Daniel: Okay, I'll try not to brag about my swimming times.
Matt: And I'll try not to get mad just because you're a good swimmer.
Daniel: We'll work on your backstroke next week before practice. Pretty soon you'll be beating me!

Stick like glue.
Keep your word and stick to what you agreed to. Give your compromise a chance. See if it sent your
problem up in smoke or if the fires are still burning.

Know when to get help.
Sometimes a problem gets really serious. If you aren't talking and you don't trust each other,
you might need another person to step in. If it looks like the problem might turn into a fight, it's
definitely time to get help. Someone like a teacher, parent, or religious advisor can help calm things
down so you can safely talk out the problem with the other person.

That's the way the story ends...
Isn't it amazing how many things come in between the first spark and being
really mad? The whole chain happens so fast because we train ourselves to
react in a certain way without even knowing we're doing it. But if you learn
to recognize the steps in between, you can break the chain before you lose
your cool. No matter how hard you try, you won't be able to avoid getting
angry in every situation. You just have to decide the best way to respond.
Anger doesn't have to be negative — if you handle it the right way it can
actually clue you in to dangerous situations and make you a stronger person.

This Youth in Action Bulletin describes how young people can create a mediation program
to help prevent violence in their community (PDF) -- CLICK HERE.