Anger is an extremely powerful emotion. It is a an explosive volcano, it is a smoldering coal, it is bright hot fire. Anger is an emotion that most adults do not like. Some of us try to avoid it which can bottle it up inside of us, turning to resentment. Some of us explode right away, saying or doing things we wish we hadn’t.
But why do we have anger and what do we do with it??
The fact is, anger serves a purpose. Anger means that you care, you have values and it is one of the ways we know when things are unfair or unjust. Because anger is such a powerful and important emotion, it is vital that we learn how to move through it. I know that if I learned how to sit with my anger as a child, I would have used my anger in more productive ways throughout my life.
For a couple of weeks at school we have been focusing on our feelings of anger. We have talked about what makes us angry. For the children, we found it was hard for them to come up with things that made them angry at first. We see them get angry many times during the day when they can’t have the choice they want or when they have to put on rain boots and do not want to. We noticed that identifying this feeling was more difficult than identifying sadness or happiness and I assume it is because we don’t talk about it as much. I encourage all of us to sit with our anger until we are calm enough to talk to children about it to help them identify it in themselves.
We have read Anh’s Anger by Gail Silver many times with the children. In this book a child named Anh gets really angry and his grandfather tells him to sit with his anger until he is calm enough to talk. Anh comes face to face with his own anger, represented as a monster. He dances around the room, plays drums on the ground and takes deep breaths with his anger and it begins to get smaller. Soon the anger gets small enough and he is able to have a calm talk with his grandfather about his big feelings. This is a lesson great for all. We need to be able to sit with our anger so that we can we can feel good about what we do with those feelings.
We have also read Sometimes I’m Bombaloo by Yumi Heo, in which a child gets sooo angry that it overtakes her and she ends up doing some things that she doesn’t mean to do. Some of the children could really relate to this. We heard examples of children saying, “I don’t want to be friends with you ever again!” when they are angry, when they really don’t mean that.
We have talked a lot about what we can do when we are feeling really angry. How do we sit with our anger? We can count to 5, take deep breaths like valcano breaths, we can talk to someone we love, we can go to a calm place, we can pound the ground like drums. I would like to further this conversation with children to explore not only the ways in which we can sit with our anger, but what we can do after we are a little more calm.
I invited children to make their own anger monsters. I asked them to close their eyes and think of something that made them really angry. I asked “What colors do you see?” and “Is your anger sharp or soft?” “What kind of mouth does your anger have?” “What do your anger’s hands look like?”
What does your anger look like?