PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Dealing With Anger: Getting To The Source

Let's say you've had a sore throat for several weeks. You've done everything you can to relieve the pain: medicine, lozenges, Vitamin C, and even chicken soup. All these things help your throat feel better for a little while, but the soreness always comes back. Finally, you decide it's time to see a doctor. You discover that you have tonsillitis, and that's causing your sore throat! If you have your tonsils removed, your sore throat will go away for good.

Anger is a lot like that. It's great to find healthy, positive ways to deal with feelings of anger, but sometimes you really just need to get to the root of the problem. There's no way to get rid of everything that makes us angry, but we can deal with issues one at a time and try to solve specific problems so they don't make us angry anymore.

Find it and fix it
What's the source of your anger? If you can identify what exactly is making you feel angry, and then work to fix it, you may find that you get angry a lot less often.

  • Are you angry that you failed a test at school? Instead of giving in to your feelings, maybe it's time to get some help in the subject so you'll do better next time.

  • Are you angry because your siblings are always hanging around and annoying you? Try talking to a parent about arranging some "alone time" when you can have privacy.

  • Are you angry because your friends leave you out of things? Try talking to them about how it makes you feel. If they can't be sensitive to your feelings, then maybe it's time to look for new friends.
Conflict resolution
Often, anger is caused by conflict (a dispute or a fight over something) with another person or group of people. Conflicts are difficult because sometimes, changing our own behavior is not the only thing that needs to happen: someone else needs to change his or her behavior as well.

Rather than scream and yell or get into a physical fight, there are ways of calmly solving the dispute, and this is called conflict resolution.

Conflict resolution is about letting two or more people or groups work out their conflicts in an atmosphere where negative or destructive expressions of anger are not allowed.

Almost all conflict resolution programs include a mediator, someone who's neutral and doesn't have loyalty to either side in the conflict. A mediator's job is to listen to both sides of the issue and try to make sure the discussion is about the facts, rather than about angry emotions. With the mediator's help, two sides in an argument can often calm down and start working out a plan that can satisfy both of them. Once a solution is decided on, a lot of the anger and bitterness will disappear.

Many schools train peer mediators. These are kids your age who are good at helping other kids talk about their conflicts and work on solutions.

Ask your teacher, counselor, or principal if your school has a conflict resolution program. If it doesn't, you might want to discuss starting one.

Accept what you can't change
Even when we figure out exactly what's making us angry, we may not be able to do anything to fix it. A lot of things in life are beyond our control, and when we get angry about these things, it can be especially hard to get past our mad feelings. Here are some examples:

  • Your parents are moving, and you will have to start in a new school.

  • Your favorite contestant on a reality TV show gets voted off.

  • The store is sold out of the videogame you wanted.

  • You come down with the flu and can't sing in the school concert.

  • The car is stuck in a traffic jam and you're going to be late for a friend's party.
No amount of problem solving is going to fix situations like these. Getting mad won't help, and will probably just make things worse. It's up to us to find ways to let go of angry feelings and accept that there are many things in the world that are simply out of our hands. At times like these, we have to work on coping with the anger itself.

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