Charlotte Reznick Ph.D.

The Power of Imagination

How to Handle an Over-the-Top Temper?

It's winter and the weather can drive us and our kids a bit batty.

Posted Feb 08, 2011

It's winter, it's cold, the weather drives us indoors and can also drive us a bit batty. So it's not surprising that it's a time that kids can easily lose their tempers. How to manage an over-the-top temper in wintertime... and any time? One of the most difficult challenges we as parents and caregivers face is helping kids manage their anger and frustration. And it's so hard not to lose our control when our kids lose their control.

The time to start helping your child with angry, hurt, and frustrated feelings is often before these big emotions show up, although that's not always possible. And being a role model on handling conflict and hurt peacefully is great, but it might have taken years for you to perfect those skills, while your kids have been around just a few short years.

I think of ten-year-old Brody. Whenever he was hurt, frustrated, or angry, he would yell, scream, kick, or punch - himself or his sister. He fought over the smallest things - like what was for breakfast or where to sit in the car. His parents tried everything - time out, taking away privileges, talking calmly - nothing seemed to help.

When we started working together, what helped Brody get in control of his over-the-top temper was to use the Imagination Tools of:

(1) Talking to his Feelings,

(2) Using Color for Healing, and

(3) The Balloon Breath.

Here's what he did:

He used his Balloon Breath to calm himself and turn inside to imagine where he kept his big bad feelings. He didn't just have anger lurking - there was worry, frustration, hurt, and disappointment. White worry about grades hid in his belly. Black Frustration about not getting what he wanted made a big black hole in his back. Purple Hurt rang in his ears and Gray Disappointment turned up as a big block in his neck. By the time we got to Muddy Anger, he realized it was a combination of the other four feelings, and this helped him understand where his outbursts came from. That made our next step to look for the positive emotions that could act as an antidote to the other negative ones easier.

Use positives to create antidote combo:

Brody found Calm Blue at the top of his head - and breathing the color down into his body helped soothe his anger a bit and washed Worry away. His Happy feelings were like a neon splash on his chest, and when he visualized them spreading, it let go of Disappointment. And when Brody found Red Love in his heart, well, it seemed like an all-purpose healer. Brody said that when Love moved up his body, it vanished all his bad feelings.

What to remember from Brody's story?  Imagination Tools can be the mind's own sedative. Assist your child in choosing ones that appeal to him and it'll be a likely start down the road toward inner peace.

*Adapted from The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success (Perigee/Penguin).

Charlotte Reznick PhD is a child educational psychologist, an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA, and author of the LA Times bestselling book The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success(Perigee/Penguin). In addition to her private practice, she creates therapeutic relaxation CDs for children, teens, and parents, and teaches workshops internationally on the healing power of children's imagination. You can find out more about her at

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