Games to Teach Anger Management Skills in Teenagers
Anger Management is the set of techniques or skills a person uses to control his behavior and his responses to anger-provoking situations. The ability to manage anger is an important social skill. Anger is a normal emotion that psychologically healthy people experience. But if it gets out of hand, anger can be dangerous. Children and adolescents who learn to manage their anger are more likely to become healthy adults.
Assertive vs. Angry
A good activity for a group anger management session for teens is to discriminate between assertive behavior and angry behavior. Teens may start by thinking and sharing (if they choose) about times they felt like a doormat; in other words, times they failed to assert themselves. They can help each other role play other ways to handle "doormat" situations. Some role plays will fall into the "assertive" category. Others will fall into the "angry" category. Finish with a discussion of which role plays would make the best real-life choices and why.
Harvard Medical School's Elizabeth Dougherty reports on a video game, Alien Therapy, designed to teach children and adolescents anger management skills. Like any other video game in the "shoot the bad guy" genre, players may feel anxious, upset or angry when they accidentally shoot the good guy. Alien Therapy also works as a bio-feedback machine. When players' heart rates rise, their guns shoot blanks. In order to be able to shoot and play the game, the player must calm down. Adolescents can learn an important anger management technique playing Alien Therapy.
Kim Peterson, a licensed professional counselor-supervisor, recommends the game Angry Heart. This game is best for young adolescents, and should be led by a trained educator. It is a good beginning to an anger management session for a youth group 2. Participants write their feelings and what makes them angry on a piece of paper, fold it up, and slip it into a small balloon and then tie it shut. They do not blow up this balloon, which represents the heart. They slip the heart into a larger balloon, and blow up the large balloon. They write their names on the balloon, and how they present themselves to the world. The group facilitator leads a discussion about what is on the outside. Participants may discuss how they present themselves to the world. The facilitator asks the group to think about whether it is a good idea to hide things on the inside. They may pop the balloons, but participants should not be forced to share.
Peterson, who is also a registered play therapist, recommends Anger IQ for adolescents and adults. She explains that the game educates players about the dangers of irrational thinking. Often, people who are feeling angry begin to think in irrational ways; for example, thinking that the other person is being malicious and trying to make you angry. In the game, players get to rehearse realistic situations and come up with better responses.
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