PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Dealing With Anger: Other People's Rage

So you're totally in control of your anger-but it seems like everyone around you is blowing his stack. What do you do?

Friends and Siblings
Even if a friend, bro, or sis isn't mad at you or something you did, being around an angry peer is no fun, and can even be scary. Here's how to deal if a friend or sibling loses his or her temper around you:

Don't fuel their anger. Try not to say
or do anything that will make the person even madder. It's okay for a friend to get mad sometimes, but you don't want it to get to the point where your friend gets overwhelmed by the feelings.

Know when to back off. Sometimes when people are angry, they need time alone to cool down. In some cases, it might be smart to say something like: "Hey, I can see you're really mad. You need some time to chill, so I'll catch up with you later."

Don't encourage or ignore destructive behavior. If your friend starts talking about hurting someone, destroying things, or venting his anger in destructive ways, don't go along with it. Let your friend know that you don't want any part of this sort of behavior. If you feel your friend might hurt himself or others, talk to a teacher or parent immediately.

Let him or her know how you feel. When you talk to your friend or sibling about her problem with anger, it's easy to sound like you're accusing or attacking her, even though you don't mean to. A great way of expressing yourself in these situations is through
"I-Messages," which let you focus on how the anger affects YOU.

    An I-Message has three parts:

    1) I feel __________________
    Be specific about your emotions. You can use more than
    one word.

    2) When you ______________
    Give details of how your friend has acted or what he or she has done.

    3) Because _______________
    This is the hard one: the "why."

    Here's an example of an I-Message:

    "I feel uncomfortable when you scream and yell in anger, because it's no fun being around all that negative behavior."

Let's say your mom's boss does something at work to make her angry, and she feels that she's not allowed to tell him that he's out of line. If she has no other way of expressing her emotions, she might come home and yell at your dad, scream at the family dog, or even say something mean to you. The stress and frustration of your mom not being able to deal with the real source of her anger -- her boss -- can be very hard on your household.

Here's how to handle it when an adult in your life has trouble controlling his or her anger:

  • Don't make it worse. People who are very angry can have trouble thinking clearly, so try not to do or say anything to enrage them even more.

  • Wait till your parent cools off, then talk to him or her in a calm, non-judgmental tone, and try to explain how the anger is affecting you. Try those I-Messages again.

  • Let this person know that there are better ways of dealing with anger. Discuss some constructive solutions, and see if you can turn them into quality together-time. For instance, taking a walk, playing music, or going for a drive in the country.

  • Bring up the idea of family therapy or individual counseling.
When too much anger is a sign of serious problems
Nobody can deal with everything that life throws at her or him without occasionally getting mad. But too much anger, or anger at the wrong times, can be a sign of a serious emotional or psychological problem. Here are some warning signs:
  • A "hair-trigger" temper, getting furious at the smallest things.
  • A need for revenge on other people.
  • Violence or damage to belongings, property, or a person's own body.
  • Violence to other people.
  • Being in a bad mood all the time and staying away from friends and family.
  • Not wanting to participate in activities with others.
If you, a friend, or a parent has a problem with the symptoms listed here, it may be time to get help from a professional like a psychologist or counselor. Rage can be a very destructive thing to the person feeling it and those around him or her, but it can be treated. Getting help is sometimes the only way to get back on the path to being happy again.

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