Teaching your child to regulate his emotions can be done with a variety of methods. Because anger is the most difficult feeling for most people to manage, and particularly for those with Asperger’s Disorder, this will likely be the feeling you will focus on the most.
You can teach your child skills of:
• Deep breathing: slow, deep breaths to calm down the body and interrupt behavior
• Muscle relaxation: squeezing and releasing muscles to decrease physical tension
• Visualization: imagining a happy scene to replace angry thoughts
• Thought stopping: imagining a stop sign to stop the angry thoughts
• Thought replacement: focusing on a more pleasant or reasonable thought
• Thought disputing: thinking about why your angry thoughts are inaccurate
• Count down: counting backwards from twenty to interrupt angry thoughts
• Distraction: engaging in a distracting and pleasant activity
• Journaling: drawing or writing about the angry feelings
• Talking: telling someone about the angry feelings
• Physical activity: releasing the anger by running, throwing a ball, etc.
These skills are not just for children and teens. The better job you do regulating your emotions, the easier it will be for your child to regulate his. If you use the vocabulary of emotional regulation, you help instill it in your child’s mind. You can guide him in using the variety of skills when you see him struggling to calm himself down.
There are many fun activity workbooks for children about anger management that you and your child can do together. You can find a list of these workbooks in the Appendix.