Let’s talk a bit about the cycle of anger or anxiety because both react in much the same way. The way I think about the reaction of these emotions is on an increasing scale of o to 10, with 10 being full blown anxiety or anger (rage). Once it gets to this point there is no use in trying to have any conversation with your child, or anyone else for that matter. They cannot process anything as they are operating at this point from a very primitive place in their brain (flight or fight). Once a level 10 has been reached, it takes about 45 minutes for the whole system to calm down and get back down to a 0.
Look at the “A” below and notice that between 1 and 2 there is a “crossing” to get from one side of the “A” to the other. If we can catch our anger/anxiety at this point, we can walk across this crossing or bridge to get to the other side and from here it is a short distance back to 0. This is why it is important to recognize the signs in our bodies that tell us that we are getting mad or that our anxiety is rising. We feel many of the same sensations in our bodies, clenching and tightening, butterflies in our stomachs, feeling hot or cold, energy in our legs (to flee or to fight). With anxiety we may also feel a shortness of breath, our hearts racing, a tightness in our chests and/or sweaty palms.
If we can recognize these signs within our bodies, then we can take action before our level reaches 2. There are a few suggestions listed on the “A” which allow us to then walk across the bridge and stop the anger/anxiety from reaching a 10 and then having a long, long way back. Also to note is that it is a very quick climb to 10 once we’ve hit the 2.
So, teach your children how to notice the signs in their bodies and what to do when they start so that they can take control of these emotions and keep them at a level where they are still useful energy.
See the article Angrrrrr! for more information about anger.
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