Frequently I hear from parents that their child/adolescent escalate their anger very quickly. This often lead to behaviours that lead the child/adolescents in trouble. In this blog, I'm going to share the common underlying difficulties that i often observed in my years of experience, as well as some strategies in managing this issue. Do note that i'll be focusing more on the underlying difficulties in this post. I'll share more about strategies in later posts.
1) Poor awareness of physiological state
To manage anger, usually we teach the child or adolescent to identify their anger signals, what happen to their bodies when they are experiencing anger, eg. heart beat fast, palms sweaty,etc. When they notice these signals in a social situations, they can then use the anger management strategies taught. However, a common problem i frequently encounter is the child's/adolescent's lack of awareness of their physiological state. Hence, this pose a problem for them to use the anger management strategies effectively.
Learning to be aware of physiological state can be a tricky task because it is an abstract concept to teach and facilitate.
For this area, i would suggest using the mindfulness approach. Mindfulness is an approach which helps us develop increasing awareness of our present moment. However, do note that it will take a lot of practise for one to be able to eventually gain awareness during their anger times. Read more about mindfulness here.
2) Difficulties in understanding the social situation
Another common underlying issue for the escalating anger can be due to misinterpretation of the social situation. Due to difficulties in perspective taking, the child/adolescent may understand others intention differently, hence leading to misunderstanding about the person or situation.
To work on this area, it will be good to teach the child how to understand other's perspective in a particular social situation. It also helps to provide information about what to expect in the varied social contexts (eg. when watching show, most people prefer not to talk)
3) Difficulties in problem solving
At times, the child/adolescent may have quite restricted way of solving the problem. I have teenagers telling me that they weren't aware that there's more than 1 way to solve a problem. Often, there will be challenges to brainstorm varied solutions even during their calm times, so we can imagine how difficult it can be to think of effective solution during anger times.
It will be good for parents to go through the possible alternative solutions on difficult situations that the child/adolescent has encountered or may face.
Do note that these 3 points are what I've commonly observed in my practise and is not exhaustive as there's a possibility of more and different underlying concerns. If this issue is recurring for a while, it is advisable to seek help from a psychologist who is experienced in working with people with ASD for more intensive support. Or you can check out our service here.
I'll be elaborating more on each point i've made, do check out the blog later for updates.