Monday, November 15, 2010

Cooling measures

Are we talking about anger management here?
While some children vent their frustrations outwardly, others may take the passive-aggressive route.
Beyond Anger: A Guide for Men: How to Free Yourself from the Grip of Anger and Get More Out of LifeAnger Management: The Complete Treatment Guidebook for Practitioners (The Practical Therapist Series)The Anger Control WorkbookThe Anger Management SourcebookLetting Go of Anger: The Eleven Most Common Anger Styles & What to Do About ThemAnger Management For DummiesRage: A Step-by-step Guide to Overcoming Explosive AngerThe Anger Workbook: A 13-Step Interactive Plan to Help You... (Minirth-Meier Clinic Series)Anger Management (Widescreen Edition)The Anger Trap: Free Yourself from the Frustrations that Sabotage Your LifeSINGAPORE - Eight people, all who have trouble controlling their temper, are attending an anger management class. A counsellor is conducting the session. In a typical setting, this would not seem out of place.

At the Institute of Mental Health's (IMH) Child Guidance Clinic (CGC), however, such sessions are attended by children aged seven to 12 years old. In spite of their young age, all of them have anger issues that are serious enough to warrant special attention.

There are no exact figures on children and teenagers in Singapore with anger issues.

Dr Ong Say How, Consultant and Deputy Chief at IMH's Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, explained that this is because "anger" is not considered a clinical diagnosis.

At the CGC, children and teens with such problems are usually referred to anger management groups, which run for about eight sessions. Each year, about 16 youth attend these sessions at IMH.

Beyond the boiling point

While anger is a normal human emotion, it can also get "blown out of proportion", said Dr Ong.

"When a child cannot get what he wants, it is common for him to become angry.

Anger is a manifestation of his emotional state and not necessarily a psychological problem," said Dr Ong.

However, there are instances where children will need professional help to manage their temper.

Ten-year-old Samuel (not his real name) was referred to CGC after displaying physical aggression towards his mother at home.

The primary school student comes from a single parent family and grew up without a father figure after his parents divorced.

At school, Samuel, who had low self-esteem, had learning difficulties and would throw a tantrum when reminded to do his homework.

Whenever he lied about completing his homework, his mother would cane him. As Samuel grew older, he became harder to control and began expressing his anger physically. Once, in a fit, he pushed his mother over.

At wits' end, Samuel's mother referred him to IMH.

"Anger problems will need professional help when the episodes become too frequent and persistent, to the extent of impairing the child's social functioning and learning.

"If the child is angry all the time, he will not be popular with friends and become ostracised," said Dr Ong.

Ms Diana Chandra, a senior counsellor at Eagles Mediation and Counselling Centre (EMCC), said anger becomes a problem when the child's behaviour becomes socially unacceptable.

In many cases, Dr Ong said that anger itself is just a symptom of other underlying problems such as depression, anxiety and even psychotic disorders. According to him, high-risk children include those with difficult temperament from young, such as those who are fussy, stubborn, impatient and impulsive.

Passively Aggressive

Unlike adults who may directly seek help for anger issues, Ms Chandra said the teenagers she works with are referred to the centre by parents or schools.

"They don't come in and say I can't control my anger. Only when you talk and counsel them do you realise that the majority of them are angry," Ms Chandra said.

While some children and teens express their anger readily, Ms Chandra said majority of them tend to take on a passive-aggressive stance.

"For instance, especially in our Asian society, most children know it is not right to show anger to their parents. So instead of articulating their anger, they vent it elsewhere. They may become rebellious or don't study to spite their parents," she said.

Learning to self soothe

Unresolved anger issues may take its toll later in life. The majority of the adult cases Ms Chandra sees started having anger issues from adolescence. Therefore, it is important for them to learn to manage their anger, as well as be aware of the causes behind the anger, said the experts.

According to Dr Ong, children with anger problems are rarely given medication, unless they have co-existing psychiatric conditions. Learning problem-solving techniques, exploring choices, stress management techniques are all part of the treatment process.

"We teach them self-awareness exercises so that they know why they are angry and what triggers their anger," said Ms Chandra.

A popular technique that she uses involves using "the anger line" which helps the child rate how angry he is on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being extremely explosive.

"If he is at six on the anger line, he has passed midpoint but can still take a few steps back. This helps him to mentally stop himself from reaching the destructive 10," she said.

- TODAY/rl

From; source article is below:
Cooling measures

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