What Your Anger Style Really Means
When someone has done something that has you fuming, are you likely to try to distract yourself
from your irritation by listening to soothing music, watching a romantic comedy, chatting with
your friends or stretching out with a few yoga moves? Or (be honest!) are you more likely to find
yourself growing angrier as you read the most upsetting news reports you can find, watch a war movie
or just out and out rehash your wrongs and plot revenge?
Your answer may depend on your gender, suggests a recent study by communications professors at Ohio
State University and the University of Michigan. Women tend to distract themselves and try to defuse
irritation, while men are more likely to wallow in their wrath. Which way is better? "In general, men are
more aggressive, which is certainly not a good thing," observes study coauthor Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick,
Ph.D. "But women are likelier to be depressed, which could in part be due to their tendency not to
act out any anger. Sometimes it could be healthier for women to stand their ground instead of
swallowing unfair treatment." The challenge, then, is for both sexes to learn to choose their battles
wisely—keeping their cool when the stakes are low but maintaining their righteous indignation and
asserting themselves firmly when an injustice really has them steaming.
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Five-Minute Stress Buster
Do the stresses of the day poison your evening hours just when you should be relaxing with your family?
Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., coauthor of Five Good Minutes in the Evening: 100 Mindful Practices to Help You
Unwind From the Day and Hake the Most of Your Night, says you can turn off that tension.
Q. How can five minutes make a difference?
A. Taking even a short amount of time to practice mindfulness — breathing deeply and focusing on the present
moment - can make you feel calmer and more relaxed. Even if you have only one minute—waiting on hold,
microwaving a cup of soup— if you can fully inhabit it you can turn your energy in the - right direction,
create an opportunity for joy and carry that sense of well-being with you for hours.
Q. How does mindfulness help us de-stress?
A. Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose and it helps people stop living on autopilot and
start being aware of what they're experiencing at a given moment without dwelling on the past or
worrying about the future. At night our bodies have left our work and duties behind but our minds may not
have, so we need to let go of our day. Laugh at the sitcom with your son or enjoy a good game of tug with
the dog— and focus on that moment and how you feel then.
Q. What's a method we can use to de-stress quickly?
A. One evening exercise I like is called the Awards Presentation. After a minute of mindful breathing,
recall a success—something positive you said or did during your day—and then picture giving yourself an
award to acknowledge your good work. We often feel stressed because we're caught up in criticizing ourselves.
This exercise brings the good to the fore and provides closure to your day.
Time-Out for Toddlers
Despite what many experts say, even little kids can learn better behavior from this classic strategy.
But don't expect them to sit quietly in a chair, says Parents advisor Ari Brown, M.D.
When can you start giving a time-out?
As early as 9 months. Even when your child's this young, you can get your message across by briefly not
paying attention to her. Just say, "No ___ (fill in the blank: hitting, biting). Time out."
How long does my child stay in a time-out?
The general rule of thumb is one minute for each year of age.
Where should I put my child?
He needs to be someplace where he can't get hurt if he throws a tantrum (which he probably will).
Popular locations are the dining room, guest bedroom, and even at the foot of the stairs.
Kids under age 2 will rarely sit in a corner or on a chair—they're on the floor kicking and screaming.
That's fine; just make sure the location is safe.
How about her crib or her room?
There's some disagreement about this. Some experts feel that a child's crib or bedroom is her safety zone
and she shouldn't go there to be punished. Others feel that the purpose of a time-out is to remove a child
from the location or situation she's currently in—so any place in the house is okay.
Can my child have toys to play with during a time-out?
Again, there's some wiggle room here. Purists argue that a time-out is punishment and kids should be in
solitary confinement without entertainment. Others say that a time-out is a way to let a child blow off steam.
I happen to think that moving a child away from her parent is punishment enough...even if she's playing
with a toy during a time-out.
Can I be in the same room?
It's best for your child to be alone, but often that's just not practical. If you must be in the room,
don't look at him. In certain situations, you might have to restrain him on your lap, but make sure
he's facing away from you.
My child laughs about time-outs. Does she really care?
Yes, she cares. She's just acting like she doesn't. It's a clever kid strategy
(adults do it too). Don't let her fool you.
My child destroys his room when I give him a time-out. Help!
Either try a different location, or remove objects he can throw. You can also leave the mess for
him to clean up later. That's a natural consequence of the destructive behavior he's chosen.
My child never stays put during a time-out. What should I do?
Her age, size, and strength will determine how to manage this one. You can put a safety gate on the door
or even lock the door to the room your child's in. It's only a few minutes. Alternatively, you can sit in
the same room to make sure she stays there, as long as you don't pay attention to her.
Should I put my child in a time-out for a tantrum?
By ignoring a tantrum, you basically create a time-out on the spot. With an older child, you can send
him to his room until he's able to pull himself together. Say, "I see you're having a tantrum right now,
and you know that's not okay. Tell me when you're done." Then calmly walk away.
What should I do if my child deserves a time-out when we're out in public?
This one's tough, and kids know it. You need to discipline your child even if it's in front of
the whole world. Find an acceptable place, like your car, and start the time-out as soon as possible.
Waiting until you get home makes it much less effective
Given the way my toddler's been acting, she might be in a time-out all day! Is this okay?
No. Only use a time-out for truly unacceptable behavior. That usually means something that will endanger
your child or somebody else. There are other ways to handle less serious offenses.
With little kids, distraction is often your best bet. Or you can put a favorite toy or game in a time-out
My child repeats the same bad behaviors despite time-outs. Are they working?
Yes, but it can take about 20 times to sink in. Kids will continually test the limits to see
whether they can wear you down. Just keep plowing ahead in a calm and consistent way.
From Toddler 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Toddler, by Ari Brown, M.D., and Denise Fields.
© 2006 Ari Brown, M.D., and Denise Fields (Windsor Peak Press). For more information, go to toddler411.com
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