Expressing Anger

Expressing Anger


When you are angry or frustrated, it’s almost impossible to NOT communicate those feelings.

So you might as well do it constructively, and increase the chances of relieving your tension as well as making things better with the other person.

You will automatically be expressing yourself non-verbally through body language, facial expression, and tone of voice. So do it right. Here are three things that will help you control the expression of your angry feelings in a way that is not only non-threatening to others, but also constructive in the sense that you and your child will be able to benefit from your anger.

1. Use Self-Control.

  • Take a time-out. Say, “I’m getting upset. I need a time out. I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.” And walk out till you can cool down.
  • Resist the urge to yell, shout, swear, insult, or call the other person names.
  • Show respect and model the behavior you want from the other person. If you don’t do it, why should they?

2. Use “I-messages.

Start with “I.” In this way I talk about myself, not you.

  • “I’m upset (frustrated, angry)…………………
  • …………….. because I ……………………………
  • …………….. and I would like………………………………..OR “to come to an agreement).” For example, “I would like you to not call me names.” OR, “I would like to reach an agreement about how you will respond to me next time you get mad at me.”

NOTE: It is very important in the “because I” portion of the I-message, that I say what I think and what I feel as the painful emotion. That way I own my anger as something I am doing to myself, and not as something that you are doing to me. My anger means I am taking something personally that I should not be. (See my articles on the dynamics of anger.)

3. Negotiate an Agreement.

When we are angry is NOT a good time to try to  negotiate an agreement. In step one, you take a time-out. In step two, you use the time out (or some other time, perhaps hours after the original anger incident) to formulate a good I-message, and think through how you made yourself angry. After owning your anger as your own doing, and expressing your pain full feelings and what your thinking was (is) that created your anger, you use dialogue skills to reach an agreement. Your goal is to work toward asking the following question:

      “Okay, so what can we agree on here?”

Then, be willing to listen and take the other person’s suggestions along with your own, so the agreement, even if it’s just “for now,” is 50-50.

Right now, these might feel like awkward techniques.But practicing techniques equals developing skills.With practice you will get better.


3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my ebook  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model (power, control, and punishments) and the New School Parenting model (dialogue, agreements, and accountability). The ideas contained here represent a change from parenting harder to parenting smarter. They can transform a stressed parent-child relationship from conflict and arguments to one of cooperation and harmony. Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

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