In schools, psycho-education is a classroom behavior management method that aims at training teachers and students about children's emotional and behavioral problems. Psycho-educational teachers believe that social-emotional growth happens when children understand the role that emotions play in their school difficulties. Psycho-educational theory and methods include cognitive (thinking), affective (feelings), and behavior aspects.
There is no single explanation why some students feel
habitual and recurrent anger, exhibiting more aggressive behaviors than other
students show. Some of it might depend on the child’s earlier experiences in
life. Students who show a tendency to angry and aggressive behaviors in school
seem to be responding to a worldview, their idea of how the world functions,
that validates the belief that they are living in a hostile and negative world.
If the child has had negative experiences earlier in life, experiences that are
now part of the child’s memories, a particular incident may trigger anger
associated with the student’s memories and thoughts. For example, if another
child accidentally steps on the child, the troubled and anger-prone child will
be inclined to perceive the intrusion as a hostile and intentional act because
this interpretation matches and validates his or her worldview. Anger becomes
an automatic response to everyday events, even when the environmental cues are
not there, or even when the environmental cues are contradicting the child’s
interpretation of the event. This habitual response can be reinforced by
others, including parents, teachers, and peers if they have become used to it,
and are expecting angry and hostile reactions from the child all the time. Every time the child’s angry feelings create a
counter-reaction from others, this counter-reaction reinforces the child’s
negative worldview, helping the child feel in control of the situation,
especially when he or she gets what the anger was all about in the first place.
The angry feeling by itself functions as a short-term reinforcement for the
child, and once anger and aggressive behaviors are recorded in the child’s mind
as a way to control, manipulate, and dominate others and their environment, the
anger-prone child will use angry feelings and aggressive behaviors more easily
in the future.
Other contributing factors can help in maintaining an anger
habit. Among the most common in children, we can mention:
·Frustration. Anger is almost always based on frustration. When
feeling overwhelmed, embarrassed, or ignored anger seems to be the child’s
attempt to regain control. Anger-prone students show low frustration tolerance, going “on the offensive” to deal with
situations that other children just put up with.
·Fear. Anger can be based on fear, from fear of losing a
privilege to fear of failure in a task or skill, anger is usually about the
fear of losing something that feels important to the child. As I said,
anger-prone children seem to be always on the offensive; they feel uneasy and
sometimes overwhelmed with situations that put them at risk of losing what they
value, and they try to hide this apprehension from others by being the ones who
can spring from the child’s feelings that he has to fight all the time to
preserve his dignity and sense of self-worth.
·Lack of Assertiveness. When the child lacks the ability of assertively speaking for
his rights, and does not know how to negotiate to get what he wants, the child may
find himself exploding instead.
Certain pre-conditions may
also influence angry feelings and aggressive behaviors in children, among them
attitude towards aggression and violence (a reaction to watching violent movies,
television, and/or sports)
and aggressive interactions with a parent or a caretaker
cover-up for feelings of failure
·a cover-up for sadness and depression
or “getting even”
What the child is thinking and how she is feeling at the
moment of the event is instrumental in creating anger. If at the moment of the
event the child is relaxed and in a positive state, she is less inclined to
react angrily to the event. If, on the other hand, the child is already on an
aversive or pre-anger state, she will
be more susceptible to an angry reaction.
For more on the topic of anger in
Understanding the Anger-Prone StudentPart One: Models of
What are Coping Skills? Part Two: Social Skills Training and
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