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<xTITLE>From Anger to Open Heart with Teens</xTITLE>

From Anger to Open Heart with Teens

by Lorraine Segal
May 2011

From Lorraine Segal's Conflict Remedy Blog

Lorraine Segal

You start what seems like a simple conversation with your teen, but before you even know what happened, you’re screaming at each other. How did you get to this horrible place so fast with someone you deeply love?

Our feelings are an essential part of communication and relationships, but unmanaged anger can sabotage us. When we’re angry, we can’t listen or resolve problems well, and any loving connection is blocked.

So what can parents and teens do in the heat of confrontation to handle anger and make space for positive communication? Here are some suggestions:

Name the emotion

Ask yourself–What am I feeling at this moment? (I’m angry, frustrated, fed-up, furious). This acknowledgement diminishes the impact of emotion, helping us detach from the intensity.

Notice your physical response

Ask yourself–What is happening right now in my body? (My face is starting to get hot, my hands are clinching, my breathing is restricted, my heart is pounding). This also helps with detachment and centering.

Take regular deep breathes

Many meditation practices teach breathing. Here is one simple exercise: Breathe in through your nose counting to three, breathe out through your mouth counting to three, then repeat with four. Think to yourself: I am breathing in peace, I am breathing out peace.

Take a time out.

Sometimes taking a short break can help us remember and apply these techniques.

These simple suggestions can help us begin to manage anger instead of letting it subvert us. It takes some practice to remember them in the crucial moment, but when we do, we open our hearts to connection and compassionate listening.

Some ideas for this post came from Anastasia Pryanikova, M.A., J.D.


Lorraine Segal, M.A. is a Conflict Management and Communication Consultant, Coach, and Trainer. Through her own business, Conflict Remedy, Ms. Segal works with corporations and non-profits as well as governmental entities and individuals to promote harmonious and productive workplaces. 

She is a consultant and trainer for County of Sonoma. And, at Sonoma State University, she is the curriculum designer and lead teacher for the new Conflict Management Certificate program. Ms. Segal was recently named one of the top 30 Conflict Resolution experts to follow on LinkedIn. She is also a contributing author to the forthcoming book, Stand Up, Speak Out Against Workplace Bullying.

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Additional articles by Lorraine Segal