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Anger, Aggression, Assertion and your Adolescent

By Susie Duffy

Anger is an emotion that alerts us that we are feeling discontent resulting from what we perceive to be a mistreatment or opposition to ourselves. It usually shows itself in a desire to fight back at the cause of this feeling. Anger is the same whether a parent is feeling/expressing anger or your adolescent is expressing it. Anger is not a bad emotion; it is a gauge that allows us to understand what we are feeling. However there are reactions to anger that make anger much more explosive.

To understand angry behaviors, consider these three choices:

1. Aggression: Anger is expressed overtly to hurt another, physically, emotionally or psychologically

Common behaviors: hitting, kicking, yelling or screaming at others, harassing, threatening, intimidating, slapping

If you choose an aggressive response to anger you are really saying My anger is not O.K. so I will make someone else responsible for the way I am feeling. Aggression is usually expressed when one fears their feelings and wants to blame others for their suffering.

2. Passive Aggressive: Anger is repressed by turning your feelings inward, toward your self and denying the feelings

Common behaviors: revenge, depression, taking out your feelings on innocent people or animals, making up rumors to get back at others, withdrawal

If you choose a passive aggressive approach to your angry feelings, you are saying My anger is not O.K. so I will deny it and don't want to deal with it. I do not value my feelings.

3. Assertion: Anger is appropriately expressed in a direct, non-threatening way that does not hurt yourself or someone else. You are acknowledging that you are feeling angry and making the decision to deal with the situation in a suitable way.

Common behaviors: taking a time out to cool down, identifying what you are angry about, clarifying what you are really angry about, exercising, punching a pillow or yelling in private, deep breathing If you are an assertive person regarding your own anger, you are saying: My anger is O.K. and is a natural emotion and expression of how I am feeling. I have a strong sense of myself and can handle this in a positive way.

By Susie Duffy http://www.familyiq.com - For more information: See FamilyIQ's Course: 'Anger Management' to learn more.

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