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Helping Teens Manage Anger

Training to Help Teens Manage Anger And Resolve Conflicts Peacefully: P.E.A.C.E. Inc.
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A. THE FOUR LESSON UNIT: There were four forms that this anger management training took with teenagers. The first was presented as a four lesson unit facilitated over a four week period of time to students at Herbert H. Lehman High School, in The Bronx, New York. Students in Psychology, Law, Health Education and in Resource Room classes received this training. These subject areas were selected because there was no preparation for any standardized testing (Regents Examinations in New York State) and time could be spent for this kind of training.


Participant Reactions: The responses that follow are the result of information provided from feedback surveys administered at the conclusion of the program and by a follow-up document presented to program participants within a month after the initial training session. Many students who experienced the training in different forms supplied this information.

  1. Some of the teens didn’t like to furnish responses in writing. (Some of these      documents were eliminated and were made orally)
  2. Young people who wouldn’t volunteer to role-play or answer questions because they didn’t want to appear “soft” or “weak or individuals able to be taken advantage of”,to their peers. Some of them did respond in writing to the feedback survey. In it they often “voiced” the opinion that anger could be dealt with in non-violent ways.
  3. Some participants felt that role-playing would be more effective than discussing situations.
  4. Some adolescents believe the only way to express anger is physically. This belief is something non negotiable with them.


Observation: The following up on any training is important as a means of gauging its effectiveness. This is something that, if time permits, should be part of implementing a program.


B. A SPECIAL PROGRAM:

The A.M.P. Program was presented to students who were part of a special program known as, The Law Enforcement Academy (LEA), a collaborative efforts between the Program Coordinator, Dr. Andrew Karmen, a professor in the Sociology Department of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the New York City Police Department and The NYC Department of Education.  This program was targeted toward students in several New York City high schools who were interested in careers in law enforcement. Our program, one of many that were provided to these students. We presented it during single (forty minute) or double (eighty minute) periods. Teachers were present and participated with their students in the A.M.P. Program. Discussions were held during lunches provided by the LEA Program staff members.


Observations: With this form of the training participant reactions were harder to gauge. Often students weren’t around long enough after the presentation to get their feedback. As in any classroom setting, there are some youngsters who pay careful attention and ask questions. When materials were distributed the students were told that if they didn’t want to keep these documents they were free to return them to the presenter.  Some did, some didn’t and some left these materials on tables or the floor.  The measure of success of a program isn’t always in the immediate response to it. Hopefully, when you present information to young people, some will take it, some will use it pretty quickly and others may hold onto it to try at some later date.  You never know how something is going to effect another person, or when it will happen. My feeling is to keep trying. As educators, we can only plant the seeds of knowledge.


C. PEER FACILITATOR WORKSHOPS:

Young people who participated in The Anger Management Power (A.M.P.) Program in their subject classes were given the opportunity to become Peer Workshop Facilitators. This opportunity was presented during the Follow Up session. Those students who were selected were empowered to choose the activities and techniques that they felt would be most acceptable to their peers. In addition to selecting the components of the workshop,, they were given key parts of the structure of the program and were shown different ways their workshop could be presented. They developed a presentation format and were given several opportunities to rehearse it. These workshops were facilitated on a selected day to their peers in subject classes. The teen trainers were treated to snacks and lunch during the day. At the end of the day a processing discussion having these teens to discuss how the workshops were received by the peers and gave them the opportunity to comment on how they felt about themselves as facilitators. After this discussion was held certificates recognizing these young people as, “A.M.P. Peer Facilitators” were distributed to each member of this team of presenters.


Observations and Comments:

  1. The most effective training of adolescents comes from that offered by peers. Teens get many of their ideas from other teens.  Empowering young people to present our program moves us in this direction.
  2. These adolescents expressed an interest in helping people their age to deal, without too much stress, in situations that take place in different settings, as for example, in school, in their families or in their relationships with peers and girlfriends and boyfriends. Their desire to put together a meaningful workshop, their enthusiasm during their training and workshop presentations told a great story.
  3. Some teens who wanted to be part of this training group often did it to get out of class, or because it would be something “cool” for their peers to see. This kind of experience might give them recognition as an “expert” and a feeling of belonging to this special group. However, their sporadic attendance or chronic lateness for training, showed their lack of real commitment.


Suggestions:

  1. Selecting students for this kind of training is based on their response to the follow-up document. To be accepted as a peer facilitator the student had to indicate using something they observed in the program and be willing to get more training in this area. Teachers  were also asked whether or not a particular youngster could miss their class to participate in the training sessions.
  2. Beyond these selection criteria, once a student started to attend the training sessions their level of commitment needs to be evaluated by their attendance, ability to be on time, and their level of participation.  Wanting to see peer workshops presented sometimes stood in the way of eliminating some adolescents from this training. These are things anyone who wants to have peers involved in a peer education program need to consider.


D.  Middle School Presentation:

An hour presentation featuring activities and ideas from The A.M.P. Program were provided to a small group of sixth graders in a New York City middle school.  Our efforts came as an additional component of an after school violence prevention program known as Safe Horizon (now known as The Peace Institute of New York, listed on our Useful Resources page) which sought to reach out to young people and teach them peer mediation skills.


Reaction:

Many of the students were unreceptive to participating in the activities.  No outward response was made to the ideas that were presented to them. There were one or two students who took part in some of the discussion relating to anger.

Since we were unknown to this group, trust may have been a factor, as well as an overall attitude of treating us almost as they would a substitute teacher coming into their class for one day. The maturity of these young people were also a factor, as well as knowing there is a fluidity of members, that is not all attend the group’s activity all the time.


Suggestions:

  1. Acquaint staff members from other organizations working with a particular group with what you are planning to do so they can prepare students with some idea of what to expect when you speak with them.
  2. Find out what kinds of activities have been used that were successful, for example, role-plays, discussions, using art or music, technology, etc.
  3. Find out what kinds of behavior to expect from students who attend more regularly.

Respect is a big issue with young people. Asking, “Who likes to be shown respect?” will get you some looks, however, it can help control a more disruptive group by mentioning that if they don’t want to participate in what you have to offer, for them not to stop others from doing so, showing respect. With this particular group this approach worked to maintain order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E. Two Hour Workshop:

The Anger Management Power (A.M.P.) Program was facilitated for adolescents at The Family Foundation School, located in Hancock, New York. These youngsters were involved in an ongoing anger management program developed and presented by Jeff Brain, M.A., a therapist at this school. Our program was brought in to furnish these young people with an additional perspective on anger management.

Student Reactions: Based on the “Participant Feedback Survey” distributed at the conclusion of the training, the fifteen participants felt that the knowledge they gained from this experience was useful.


1. Their goals for this experience included, discovering, (in their own words),

Different strategies to keep myself calm when angry.

• How to react to others’ anger,

• How to turn away from anger.

• More coping skills for dealing with anger.

• How to stay at peace.

• How to manage anger

• Ways to chill out

 

2. The activities and areas some of the participants found most helpful were the,

• Role Plays

• Anger Scale

• Looking At Causes

• Anger Managers


3. The activities and areas some of the participants found least helpful were the,

• Anger Scale

• Role Plays

• Human Anger Scale


4. On a scale of 1-10, 1 (Not Helpful), 10 (Want More), the participants rated The A.M.P. Seminar. Their responses ranged from 6-10, with the rating of 8 receiving the highest number of responses (6).

 

Suggestion:

“I think the feedback would be to continue to use and add more role plays. The kids love them, gets them active and of course, the more they do, the more applicable they become, that is, relevant to their real life experiences”. -Jeff Brain, MA, CTS, CEP-


© 2011 Peaceful Route