Featured Technique

Featured Technique

Add to your repertoire of creative therapeutic interventions with this original technique.

Please be sure to print this page as the technique below will be replaced by a new technique each month.

Printable form of current Featured Technique can be attained here.

CAUTION: THIS TECHNIQUE IS FOR USE BY MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WITH SPECIALIZED TRAINING IN CLINICAL WORK WITH CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.



ANGER BAG

Jeanette Yoffe, MFT
www.YoffeTherapy.com


AGE RANGE: Ten and Up
MODALITY: Individual, Group

GOAL:

  • Child to utilize an appropriate strategy to release and express angry feelings.

Materials

  • 1 Bag with Handles
  • Pillow
  • Paper or old phone book
  • Book Paper to draw
  • Crayons
  • Play dough
  • Bubble wrap
  • Bubbles
  • 8 Index Cards

DESCRIPTION

    Explain to the child that he/she is going to create a special bag that will help him/her gain control of angry feelings. Continue to explain that within the bag there will be special skills for him/her to utilize “as a daily practice to release angry/frustrated feelings.” This is not meant to be done when angry. The bag will be used each day so anger does not build and can be expressed safely and appropriately. Below are items for the bag:

    Scream Pillow: The Scream pillow is used to help the child express anger verbally. The parent/practitioner can demonstrate first by placing his/her mouth in the middle of the pillow and making a sound of anger i.e. growl like a bear, roar like a lion, or scream as loud as they can all the while encouraging the child to try. As the child begins to feel more comfortable he/she can say words such as “I am angry” or “It’s not fair” or “I am frustrated” or “I'm mad.”

    Paper to Rip: An old phone book or a stack of paper stapled together, written on front cover “Paper to Rip.” The child is told this is available for him/her to rip up to release frustration or anger BUT the rule is when finished it must be cleaned up. As the child rips up the paper the parent/practitioner instructs the child to verbalize why he/she feels angry. The child can throw the paper up in the air or directly into a garbage pail. This can be very cathartic and freeing for a child.

    Paper to Draw: The child is told the “Paper to Draw” is used to draw pictures about angry feelings with the Anger Buster Crayons. The child can draw pictures of the person and event and/or write words that express his/her anger.

    Play-dough Rip-Squish-Spaghetti Technique: The child is instructed to open and take out the play-dough, and say out loud “RIP” while breaking it into 2 pieces. The child is then instructed to say the word “SQUISH” while squeezing his/her feelings into the play-dough, then the child says “SPAGHETTI” while separating his fingers so that the play-dough squishes right through them like spaghetti. Tell the child to begin all over again with Rip-Squish-Spaghetti. He/she should do this 5-10 times until he/she feels more relaxed. Tell the child this activity will help him/her express angry feelings into the play-dough instead of hurting someone else.

    Anger Buster Poppers: This technique is always fun, safe and easy to use. The child can use the bubble wrap “poppers” to step on, stand on, sit on or jump on. This allows the child to project his/her aggression and/or hostile feelings in an expressive way. Encourage the child to tell a story about what he/she is doing to the poppers and who the poppers represent.

    Anger Buster Bubbles: The child is instructed to sit down on a chair while blowing bubbles. He/she is going to imagine seeing the angry feelings enter the bubble and then disappear when it pops. Encourage the child to focus, feel the lightness of the bubble gliding within their control. Each bubble he/she blows they watch until it pops, so that the child begins to regain focus and internalize a sense of calm.

    Anger Buster Cards: Help the child create 3-8 Anger Busters by writing a coping skill on each card. The child is told he/she can reach in the bag and pick an Anger Buster Card and it will tell him/her what to do to safely express angry feelings and get calm. Below are examples of Anger Buster Cards:

    1. SCREAM as loud as I can in my SCREAM pillow! Grrrrrrrrr!!!
    2. PUNCH my SCREAM pillow with all MY might 10 times!!!!! Ahhhhhhhh!!!
    3. TAKE 10 deep BREATHS –- IN and OUT of my BELLY!!! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10!!
    4. SAY out LOUD 10 times “I AM THE BOSS OF MY ANGER!”
    5. COUNT to 10 like this: 1 CHIMPANZEE, 2 chimpanzee, 3 chimpanzee, 4 chimpanzee, 5 chimpanzee, 6 chimpanzee, 7 chimpanzee, 8 chimpanzee, 9 chimpanzee, 10! Or CREATE my own WORD in between the numbers!
    6. GO to MY mirror and make a FUNNY FACE!!! Don’t forget to stick MY tongue out REALLY BIG!!!! Ahhh...
    7. DRAW a PICTURE or WORDS about the person or thing that I feel mad about and RIP IT UP to PIECES!!! Yowser!!!

    All of the items are placed in the bag and the outside of the bag is labeled: "Things to do when I feel angry to help me calm the pain inside me.” The child keeps the bag within reach hanging on a door knob or hook in his/her room.

    DISCUSSION
    Children generally respond well to this intervention, as it is engaging and concrete. Self-evaluation is encouraged by asking the child in follow-up sessions to identify when he/she used a particular technique and how effective it was in helping him/her to manage angry feelings. For example, the child can be asked to give examples of when he/she used the technique and whether the technique helped a little, a lot, or not at all.

    Caregiver involvement will enhance the effectiveness of this activity. Caregivers can be taught the techniques so they can coach their children. Caregivers should also be encouraged to provide positive reinforcement by praising the child when he/she uses appropriate anger management strategies. Labeled praise statements are most effective, such as: “I like how you used the Scream Pillow to let out your angry feelings and you did a good job using calm words to tell me what made you so angry.”

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Jeanette earned her Masters in Clinical Psychology, specializing in children in foster care and adoption. She has specialized for the past 10 years in the treatment of children who manifest serious deficits in their emotional, cognitive, and behavioral development. Jeanette's desire to become a child therapist with a special focus on adopted and foster care issues derived from her own experience of being adopted and moving through the foster care system. In 2006 she won Los Angeles Foster Care Hero Award for her dedication to children and families in foster Care. Jeanette founded the non-profit she named, Celia Center, after her first mother, Celia. Celia Center is a mental health center which meets the critical needs of all those connected by Foster Care and Adoption and all those who serve the community of Foster Care and Adoption in Los Angeles and beyond. Jeanette is author of the book Groundbreaking Interventions: Working with Traumatized Children, Teens and Families in Foster Care and Adoption. She can be reached at jeanette@yoffetherapy.com

    © 2016, Jeanette Yoffe

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