The children’s book, Anh’s Anger, by Gail Silver, is a beautiful story that gives children and their caregivers a specific plan for dealing with anger. Five-year-old Anh gets upset when his grandfather instructs him to stop playing with his blocks and come to dinner. After Anh’s angry outburst, Grandfather directs him to go to his room and “sit with his anger.” As Anh is crying in his bedroom, his Anger comes to visit him in the form of a hairy red creature. His Anger tells Anh, “I’m the part of you that comes out when things don’t go your way.” Anh and his Anger dance, play, sit, and breathe together until Anh is exhausted and still. He realizes that he doesn’t like saying mean things to people. His Anger tells him, “Whenever you feel angry, you should come sit with me. After we spend some time together, you might feel better.” As Anh befriends his Anger, the Anger gets smaller. His Anger disappears and Anh is able to resolve his conflict with his grandfather.
The story is a lovely example of how externalizing the anger allows Anh to look at his problem and discover specific strategies to deal with it. It also provides an example of how caregivers can remain calm and accepting of their child’s anger and other extreme emotions. By telling a child to sit with his or her anger, adults convey the message that the child has the ability to deal with the anger by using specific self-soothing techniques. Instead of feeling helpless and out of control, the child can truly say to their Anger, “You’re not the boss of me!”
I’ve read this book to many children and noticed that they instantly connected with Anh when he says he can “feel his angry cries all the way down in his belly.” They understand how mindful breathing can help them calm down as they watch Anh’s Anger get smaller. And they all love the colorful illustrations, especially the Anger depicted as a hairy monster with the long green tongue!
You can view the story here, but I also encourage you to get the book from your local library to read to children.