No matter how much a parent loves her child, there are times when she feels angry enough to yell. A single episode of yelling can usually be handled with an apology, but when the yelling becomes a pattern and slides over the line into outright verbal abuse, it can cause serious problems. Verbal abuse doesn’t just happen between parent and child; it can also occur when one parent is verbally abusive to another. Anger management classes may be helpful in some situations.
Verbal abuse can have an insidious effect on another person’s self-esteem. It can cause depression, stress and physical problems such as chronic headaches, sleep problems and intestinal distress. The abuse is typically related to power imbalances between a parent and child or between spouses. The abuser belittles and mistreats the victim, displacing his own feelings of inadequacy and anger. The victim often internalizes the abuse and comes to feel that it is her fault Mommy or Daddy is angry at her all the time. Stopping real verbal abuse often requires professional help, according to an April 2013 article on the Value Options website.
Classes in anger management and verbal abuse are not always voluntary. Although classes might be taken at a spouse’s request, an abuser who enters the criminal justice system may be required to take anger management classes as part of a plea bargain or as a result of a violation of the law. A court-ordered anger management class is a legal mandate, and failure to fulfill this requirement can result in the perpetrator going to jail. Requirements vary according to state or jurisdiction. The perpetrator could be allowed to take an online class or required to attend a live class. Classes typically last eight to 12 sessions, according to the A.J. Novick group, which offers anger management classes.
In a domestic violence situation, anger management classes are rarely successful, according to Steven Stosny, a psychologist and author of “Love Without Hurt.” Writing for Psychology Today in a May 2009 article, Stosny notes that an anger-management program may produce short-term gains but no long-lasting results. Sometimes this is due to poorly conceived training methods that can actually increase aggression or to desensitizing methods that don’t address the root causes of the abuse. Stosny recommends promoting compassion and appealing to an individual’s core values instead.
Examples of Classes
Parenting classes that include anger management topics are available in online and in-person format. They may be one-on-one or group courses. The Center for the Improvement of Child Caring offers an eight-hour online class that includes stress management, empathy training, anger and conflict resolution, assertive communication and boundary and limit setting. Wright Education Services in Redding, California, offers 16-week and 52-week courses in anger management, as well as sliding scale and reduced payment plans. The Center for Revitalizing Psychiatry in Hackensack, New Jersey, offers group sessions led by a therapist that last 10 weeks and include issues such as underlying feelings, triggers and impulse control.