Information

This general information is provided as a guide for young people, parents and caregivers, service professsionals and schools. If you find incorrect information please contact us to have the relevant page updated.

What Is Anger?

Anger is an emotion that involves reactions to events or situations that cause us to be irritated, frustrated, furious, enraged or even hurt.

Responses to anger can involve:

  • Physiological reactions such as increased heart rate, tightening of muscles. 
  • Destructive behaviours such as verbal and/or physical outbursts.
  • Negative thought process "I am so angry and I am out of control".

There are four main categories of anger:

  • Masked anger: Individuals who deny or repress their anger and instead utilise other emotions such as sadness. 
  • Explosive anger: extended suppression of anger that result in a quick and exaggerated anger response.
  • Chronic anger: anger that is held onto for extended periods of time resulting in constant tension.
  • Healthy anger: appropriate reaction to situations and resolutions are sought.

Anger as a secondary emotion

Anger often serves as a mask for other emotions that may be hurt, anxiety, shame, embarrassment, fear, guilt, pain or inadequacy. When anger is utilised to mask what feelings are really happening, this can create confusion for others who may not understand why someone is reacting in this manner.

Strategies

Professionals

Anger can often be a secondary emotion. Encourage the young person to discuss what’s happening for them.

  • Acknowledge how the young person is feeling.
  • Devise an anger management plan. Identify alternative methods of reacting in situations for example alternative cognitions such as "I am hurt because of ...
  • Identify various relaxation methods and coping strategies such as deep breathing.

Adolescents/Children

  • Find a trusted adult or someone you know and talk about how you are feeling.
  • Think about what it is exactly that made you angry and how you could react differently the next time.
  • Make a plan of what to do when you get angry, for example ways you can calm yourself down, and physical triggers that indicate you are getting angry.

Parents/Carers

  • Encourage your child to talk openly and honestly about their feelings. 
  • Don’t use anger as a response, this will only aggravate the situation.
  • Help devise an anger management plan; identify when they are getting angry and alternative reactions such as walking away, time alone, going for a run or taking ten deep breaths etc.