There’s a room upstairs that serves as my supervisor’s office, a general meeting room for special projects, and the ‘quiet room’ when we realized that we needed to open it up regularly due to increasing lack of space for an increasing number of people. It has colorful walls, some couches, and an overstuffed chair, in addition to the supervisor’s bookshelf and desk, and the kids generally like the feeling of being in there.
Today we tried the start of a twice-a-week open anger management session. For x amount of time that quiet room will have me perched in it, with the youth upstairs in the computer/homework/reading room or the art studio managing themselves (which they do very well — five long strides will take a short person like me from one end of the straight-shot upstairs hall to the other, and everything is audible), and will only be open to people who want to drop in and talk about anger issues, which many of them have trouble with and a few of them want help working through.
I started the drop-in for H, but H was in and out of appointments all day and wanted not to talk about anything. Instead B, a second-grade girl, pressed and asked everyone around the club if they wanted to come and ended up being the only person in the room. And that was fine.
Because in between the self-test I read to her, ten yes-or-no questions from one of two books I picked up last week specifically on anger in kids and teens, she talked to me pretty openly. And she told me that she hadn’t talked to anyone else about these things, with a laugh. And we walked through an anger agreement and reached a stumbling block before we got to the part where she might sign it.
“Do you agree to, when you’re able, apologize for harming someone out of anger?”
She shakes her head.
“…no? Why not?”
“Because I try before and they just make it worse and make me angry again.”
“How do they make it worse?”
“They say mean stuff to me or just make fun of me again. And make me want to punch them in the face. So I decided I’m not going to apologize any more.”
What do I do with that?
We ran out of time before we could get through the rest, but she’s thinking about it now, I can tell.
I gave B an “anger journal” and, like with anyone who asks for help, we’re going to start with listing the things that make her angry and looking at each one. Why does it make her angry? Is it something that she can control or that others control? Understanding what it is that sets her off. Is there a way to avoid those things altogether? And then, on to management techniques when she can’t.
She says she wants to talk to her parents about these things; I told her that talking is a good idea.