This is an activity that attempts to address the real reason behind the child’s anger.
Many children use anger to mask other emotions. It is easier for them to say they feel mad than to admit feeling hurt, abandoned, disappointed, lonely, or betrayed. Often times there are many other issues going on for a child who displays anger.
Anger is a tricky emotion. Some call Anger a “Master of Disguise.” That’s because anger is often a mask that hides another feeling. Anger is sometimes a cover-up for: frustration, fear, sadness, shame, disappointment, jealousy, guilt. The reason for the disguise is because those other feelings are hard to face or talk about. It is easier to get mad than to admit to yourself that you might be disappointed, jealous of someone, or ashamed of something you did.
What’s Behind the Mask?
This activity is particularly interesting and meaningful in an anger-management group. This activity would also work in an individual counseling session. Or just at home with your children.
Kids use paper plates or construction paper to make a mask of how they appear to the outside world when they are angry. They imagine what their face looks like to others. Children will often make scowls, furrowed brows, and reddened cheeks. Take the time to process the outside of the mask.
After processing the outward display of anger, children should think about how they are feeling on the inside when they display anger to others. Have them flip their masks over and draw how they feel on the inside—the way they feel behind the angry mask. kids will often draw tears streaming down their faces, looks of hurt, and confusion.
Then process the inside of the mask.
Have a conversation about how sometimes it is safer to show others anger because it is an easier and more socially acceptable feeling.
Beyond Anger Management
You will not know where the anger comes from unless you provide a safe place for children to express the emotions that are behind the anger. Next time your child gets mad – have them stop and think about what’s going on. Tell them to ask Two Questions to themselves:
- What happened that made me get angry?
- What else did I feel when it happened?
Click Here for my post containing many FREE Emotion Cards.
“Angry” students, especially at the middle school level, are often referred to the school counselor. School counselors usually teach children and adolescents who are angry ways to manage their anger. These tips and techniques are great for the short term and even in the moment, but they do not always address the real reason behind the student’s anger.
In my previous school I ran many anger-management groups. What I discovered is that many students used anger to mask other emotions. It was easier to say they felt mad than to admit feeling hurt, abandoned, disappointed, lonely, or betrayed. I realized that many other issues were going on for my students who displayed anger. I dug deeper to determine what other issues they were dealing with behind their angry mask.
What’s Behind the Mask?
I have done mask activities in a variety of groups. I find this activity particularly interesting and…
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