Anger gets a bad rap. But most mental health experts would agree that it’s actually healthy. As clinical psychologist and author Harriet Learner writes in her book The Dance of Anger, “Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to.” But sometimes we hear the signal and channel it in ways that misconstrue what’s actually going on, making things worse and ruining relationships. So, understanding the way we typically act on anger helps us get to the crux of why our antennas are pointed up in the first place. And while a person can experience any numbers anger styles, here are the five most common ones, including how to spot them and what to do to make your communication effective and healthy.
By Melissa Klurman Parents
Teens may not need constant supervision while they're quarantining like younger kids do, but since they can't take part in regular social activities, it's important to come up with new ideas for them to try out so they're not playing Animal Crossing and watching TikTok the entire time they're social distancing at home. Here are some non-stressful, easy-to-pull-off activities for teens to try during quarantine—a few of which are so fun, you may want to join, too.
Here’s the scoop on the most important social skills for kids plus how to practice them, according to child psychologist Dr. Bethany Cook.
1. Basic Manners (AKA Baseline Respect)
Why It Matters
This one doesn’t represent a single social skill, but rather a group of behaviors that range from traditional ‘good manners’ (i.e., please and thank you) to social habits that guide healthy peer interactions, like sharing and taking turns. Parents probably don’t need to be told why these skills are important—we’ve already dubbed some of them as magic words—but just in case: “A child who has these basic skills will be able to successfully interact with others in social settings (as well as virtual interactions) in positive ways, with the end goal of getting their needs met in a socially acceptable manner,” says Dr. Cook. Translation? A polite kid is a win-win for everybody.
How to Practice
When it comes to imparting polite behavior to your kid, it’s no surprise that Dr. Cook suggests parents pay careful attention to the way they interact with adults and young people alike. “When it comes to teaching our children about turn-taking, sharing and following directions, they learn the most from what they see us do. How do you speak to your spouse, friends and strangers?” In other words, kids are excellent mimics (but you knew that one already, right?). So the next time your child shouts for a second helping at dinnertime, don’t bark back, “OK, give me your bowl!” because although the frustration is fair, said child is likely to start imitating your brusk demeanor. Instead, try something like, “Can you please ask nicely for another portion? Thank you.”
2. Eye Contact
Why It Matters
The concept is basic but it can be a hard habit to acquire, even for adults. In practice, eye contact is a valuable way of showing respect for others, and it’s also a confidence-builder. Per Dr. Cook, “Looking at someone when speaking not only establishes an element of trust and validity, but it also allows the speaker and the listener to read all the subtle non-verbal facial expressions, which convey much more meaning than words.” Bottom line: When it comes to teaching kids how to form authentic connections with peers, eye contact is key.
How to Practice
So how do you encourage this important, but oft-neglected behavior? According to Dr. Cook, you should just embrace the initial awkwardness and make it fun. “If you or your child are uncomfortable with sustained eye contact, start out by making it a game by having a staring contest.” This strategy won’t work for every individual though, so if your kid is still a touch too shy to participate in a staring contest, Cook says your best bet is to simply “get down on their level and kindly remind them why it's important.” Hint: The ‘getting down on their level’ part is particularly crucial because it encourages—you guessed it—eye contact.
.1. YOU DON'T MAKE THEM COMPLETE THEIR HOMEWORK
More than just learning trigonometry or the details of the Punic War, the practice of homework helps teens to develop a strong work ethic and instills a habit of self-discipline. Practice saying this: That’s right, teenager, you might not need to use polynomial equations in daily life, but you will need to learn to turn your attention to something boring for a while, and studying polynomials is helping you do this!
2. YOU DON'T MAKE THEM CLEAN UP THEIR ROOM
Pickhardt says that the teenage years are stereotypically messy and disorganized, but that a teen who understands their room needs to meet your (reasonably achievable) neatness goals is understanding that they need to abide by the rules of others whom they depend on.
3. THEY DON'T DO CHORES
Unpaid chores are your teen’s way of contributing to home maintenance and being part of a family unit. Stipulate a regular requirement of time and energy you expect from your teen. Julie Wright, LCSW, a clinical social worker at West Los Angeles Veteran’s Administration and the mother of two teen boys, says that she makes clear expectations and sees that her son and stepson live up to them. “Once a week, I have cooking night with the kids, and I don’t care if they don’t want to do it,” she says. “Also, I expect them to do their dishes and their laundry. It’s really hard implementing in the beginning, but I just said okay, if you don’t, say, do the dishes, then no takeout burgers and no computer.”
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