The Anger Bag: A Coping Skills Bag DIY for Children by Jeanette Yoffe M.F.T.
Updated: 6 days ago
"Things to do when I feel angry to help me calm the pain inside me.”
PROJECT: ANGER BAG AGE RANGE: 5-12 suggested
GOAL: To help a child to utilize coping skills when he/she feels angry emotionally and/or physically in order to learn how to problem-solve and regulate themselves on their own.
THERAPY: Individual and Family.
SYMPTOM REDUCTION: Feeling Angry, frustrated, and aggressive. SYMPTOM INCREASE: Self-awareness, self-esteem, self-regulation, and self-reliance.
1 Bag with Handles
CHOOSE 3 that work for your Child Scream Pillow
Anger Wheel PRINT IMAGE HERE (right click to print
Paper to rip or Old Phone Book
Paper to draw with crayons Play-doh Bubble Wrap Bubbles 8 Index Cards for Anger Busters Markers
Optional if you have one:
Sensory Body Sox HERE
Introduce the task by explaining to the child that he/she is going to help the child manage their “angry” feelings with the use of a special bag they will explore and create together. Continue to explain that within the bag there will be special skills for him/her to do when they have these feelings and don’t know how to express them.
The order is not important.
Scream Pillow: The Scream pillow is used to help a child express their anger verbally. The parent/therapist can demonstrate first by placing their mouth in the middle of the pillow and start by making a sound of anger i.e. growl like a bear, roar like a lion, or scream as loud as they can all the while encouraging the child to try. As the child begins to feel more comfortable he/she can say words such as “I am angry” or “It’s not fair” or “I am frustrated” or “I'm mad.”
Paper to Rip: The child is told the “Paper to Rip” is available for him/her to rip up when they are frustrated or angry BUT the rule is when they are finished it must be cleaned up. As they rip up the paper the parent/therapist instructs the child to express why they are angry. The child can throw the paper up in the air or directly into a garbage pail. This can be very cathartic and freeing for a child.
Paper to Draw: The child is told the “Paper to Draw” is used to draw pictures about their anger with the Anger Buster Crayons. The child can draw pictures of the person and event and/or write words that express his/her anger. (See attached Paper to Draw Cover page for drawing book.)
Play-doh Rip-Squish-Spaghetti Technique: This technique teaches a child how to regulate and externalize their “angry” feelings. The child is instructed to open the play-doh, take out the play-doh and say out loud “RIP” while breaking it into 2 pieces. The child is then instructed to say the word “SQUISH” while squeezing his/her feelings into the play-doh, then the child says “SPAGHETTI” while separating his fingers so that the play-doh squishes right through them like spaghetti. Tell the child to begin all over again with Rip-Squish-Spaghetti. He/she should do this 5-10 times until they feel more relaxed. Tell the child, this tool will help him/her release their angry feelings into the play-doh instead of somewhere else where someone may get hurt.
Anger Buster Poppers: This technique is always fun, safe and easy to use. The child can use the bubble wrap “poppers” to step on, stand on, sit on or jump on. This allows the child to project his/her aggression and/or hostile feelings in an expressive way. I encourage the child to tell me a story about what they are doing to the poppers and who the poppers represent to them.
Anger Buster Bubbles: The bubbles are used for blowing, of course. The child is instructed to sit down in a chair while performing this task. He/she is going to imagine seeing the angry feelings enter the bubble and then disappear when it pops. Encourage the child to focus, feel the lightness of the bubble gliding within their control. Each bubble he/she blows they watch until it pops so that the child begins to regain focus and internalize a sense of calm.
Anger Buster Cards: The child with the help of the parent/therapist will create 3-8 Anger Busters and write coping skills on each card. The child is told he/she can reach in the bag and pick one out at any time and they will tell him/her what to do with their anger.
Examples of Anger Busters are: 1. SCREAM as loud as I can in my SCREAM pillow! Ahhhhhhh!!!
2. PUNCH my SCREAM pillow with all MY might 10 times!!!!! Yippee!!! 3. TAKE 10 deep BREATHS –- IN and OUT of my BELLY!!! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10!! 4. SAY out LOUD 10 times “I AM THE BOSS OF MY ANGER!” 5. COUNT to 10 like this: 1 CHIMPANZEE, 2 chimpanzee, 3 chimpanzee, 4 chimpanzee, 5 chimpanzee, 6 chimpanzee, 7 chimpanzee, 8 chimpanzee, 9 chimpanzee, 10! Or CREATE my own WORD in between the numbers! 6. GO to MY mirror and make a FUNNY FACE!!! Don’t forget to stick MY tongue out REALLY BIG!!!! Ahhh... 7. GO outside, FIND a stick and hit a TREE with all MY might... then HUG IT!!! Ahhh...8. DRAW a PICTURE or WORDS about the person or thing you are MAD at and WRIP IT UP to PIECES!!! Yowser!!!
In the end, all of the items are placed back in the bag and the child or parent/therapist writes on the outside of the bag "Things to do when I feel angry to help me calm the pain inside me.” The child keeps the bag within reach hanging on a doorknob or hooks in his/her room.