Lessons I Learned in my Childhood about Anger Management

Author’s Note: Don’t try these strategies at home without first consulting a licensed therapist.

I once had a boyfriend who called my childhood home uncivilized. If you wanted to be heard, you had to talk louder, oh, and possibly throw something. Interrupting someone was the order of the day.

If you got mad, because you weren’t heard, or for any other reason for that matter, you might have managed your anger using any one of the following methods outlined below. Just put down that self-help book and I’ll cut to the quick.

Lessons I Learned in my Childhood about Anger Management:

1) The Power of the Boffy*

You may remember it. This is not to be confused with the Boppy. I remember it affectionately as the Bazooka. Whatever. It was a thick, cushioned bat, like a mini punching bag only with a handle, that you slammed into the bed repeatedly with all your might. Infused with adrenaline, fury, and rage, you could pack quite a wallop.

Accompanied with grunting similar to a pro tennis star, Monica Seles comes to mind, your incessant pounding of the boffy becomes rhythmic, even meditative.

All that grunting began with Monica.
All that grunting began with Monica.

You may believe that you, too, can play tennis, if only you used more power, and hit that thing harder, panting and grunting. Without warning, your execution resembles a frenzied, tribal dance, and you drop to the floor like a pile of laundry, breathless and exhausted.

Goodbye anger. Hello sleep.

2) Forget Scissors, Run with Knives

A simple knife will do the trick. Even a butter knife will do, but a sharp knife offers more drama.

Please, pass me the butter.
Please, pass me the butter.

Run in circles, as it’s more exhilarating this way. If possible, chase a sibling around the house with a knife. When the sibling is squealing with absolute terror and is hiding in a corner, you know you’ve won. Feel the anger melt at your fingertips and walk away.

Goodbye anger. (It’s okay sis. No worries. It’s ha ha funny now).

3) The Classic Door Slam

This promises to be the family favorite, and leaves residual, lingering emotions hanging in the balance. If you punctuate the end of an argument with a strong slam of the door, powerful enough to crack wood, you have made your point. You showed them. Your best case scenario is to break the glass, especially if it requires a special replacement. Our front door provided ample opportunities with glass that was orange in color and circular in pattern. Never mind the mental storm that came before the grand shattering; It was Slam. Gasp. And then, “Oh no, that’s gonna be expensive to fix.”

Goodbye anger. Now you have a new problem: replacing the glass.

Did you ever use that pillow thing? If you know what it’s called, please do tell. Knives, anyone? Of course, I almost forgot, there’s always punching a hole in the wall.

These days, my best strategy to manage anger is to take a walk. What about you?

* It had a name. For the life of me, I can’t recall it.

photo credit: Chris Blakeley via photopin.com”>photopin ccwoowoowoo via photopin cc; John Flinchbaugh via photopin cc

Related Article:
Leave That Pillow Alone!: Better Ways To Deal with Anger

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67 thoughts on “Lessons I Learned in my Childhood about Anger Management

    1. Ginger, I’m glad I’m not the only one! Back then, I seemed to think everyone slammed doors. Now I know it’s not the case, or else everyone is lying to me. Although, I see from some of the comments here that door slamming was quite popular and is still in business. Let’s go break some plates! I wonder if we had breaking sessions of anything there would be less door slamming…that would accomplish a whole lot!

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      1. I think they are lying. There is no way those polite ass pansies didn’t just lose it once in a while, RIGHT?? That’s just not healthy, either. πŸ™‚

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  1. We had the door slamming (and once the door-shattering, which my brother and I made up an elaborate ruse to fool my parents with – if I recall correctly, it actually worked) and, even BETTER, we had The Time My Mom Kicked a Hole in My Door Because I Wouldn’t Dust Her Hummel Figurines.

    The hole’s still there. If I say anything about it, she just mutters, “You should have dusted those damn Hummels.”

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    1. Oh, I’m having a great time reading your comments! The door shattering I think tops it. There’s no question you got to fix that one. But the hole in the door. You could hold that one over your mom and get whatever you want. I can’t believe she didn’t fix that one. I guess you’ll never forget…

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  2. I remember chasing my older sister around the house with an umbrella. She ran into her room and slammed the door and I thrust the tip of the umbrella through the door! It made a hole all the way through and poked into her back (no injury, thank goodness!) Then she had to cover the hole so our parents didn’t find out so she put a picture of The Monkeys on her door – LOL, those were the days! πŸ˜€

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    1. Ha ha, Dianne, that’s a classic story! An umbrella works just as well as knives I imagine. I was never injured by any knives. I should point that out. The Monkeys were one of her favorites, huh?

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  3. wow, some tough ways to deal with anger! and defo a funny post πŸ™‚ I agree that taking a walk is a good strategy. I personally find a song that resembles my mood, or watch someone/something hilarious, like Louis C.K. for example πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Lexa! Yeah, I thought this was THE WAY to deal with it, too. I should try music sometime. Maybe a walk with music. You have good ideas for changing the emotion, which can’t hurt to try.

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  4. I’m not trying to brag, but my door slamming technique was phenomenal growing up. We had a nice heavy wooden door, and if you let go of it at just the right time, it shook the whole house. Now that I own a house, I don’t allow myself to do that anymore. Now I just chase my cats with knives to relieve stress..

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    1. Bill, but did you shatter glass?!! That does sound phenomenal. Our door was NOT heavy, so I’m sure it couldn’t have shook our house. It seemed quite flimsy actually, and the glass, thin!! Now, it’s different, isn’t it? Oh, poor kitties….I may have to rescue them.

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  5. Oh man, I was SUCH a door-slammer. There really was no better way to get your anger across. I have even been known to engage in some door-slamming since I’ve come of age. My husband isn’t wild about it.

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    1. Emily, there is still satisfying about the door slam. I know, I understand. Old habits are hard to break, especially if they relieve such tension. Sometimes it seems like the only thing to do. It hit home when my son did it. Uh oh. I don’t want to have to fix or door or anything like that.

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      1. Oh, my! How dreadful for you!! And you’re such a dedicated cook so you wouldn’t order out or anything like that. Good for you. Hands and fingers are hard to do without! They are missed.

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      2. Oh!! Here I thought you were being such a saint cooking with a injured hand. Work, well you, work is work….just kidding!! Guapo, I’m sorry that happened to you.

        That’s thing with the door slam….you don’t know the damage until after it’s done! And, then of course, it’s too late.

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  6. I think I took up running to work off anger – then I discovered I liked it (the running, that is). Still works pretty well and I have conversations with my adversaries while running, except when I pass someone…

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    1. Perfect, Cathy! I can just see you talking to yourself while running. Ha ha. I do that too sometimes. I think exercising is something I must do and definitely helps me burn off steam! I would be a basket case without it.

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  7. Amy, it’s like we grew up in similar homes. Although I never used the pillow-bat thing you described. I used an actual pillow and screamed into it as LOUD as I possibly could. And, let me tell you, I’ve never felt stress leave my body so quickly! πŸ˜‰

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    1. Anka, I’m continually surprised how many of us grew up in similar situations. Here I thought it was only my family who was so crazy. The pillow-bat-thing, I like that name! That works. Screaming into a pillow would be a good release. I don’t believe in bottling things up. I think that has the potential to back fire in the end. Thanks, Anka! I hope you enjoy your vacay!

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  8. It was pretty much just me and my Dad growing up, and neither of us like much noise. My Dad says that when I was a kid, my way of releasing anger was to lie on my stomach and beat my fists on the floor – I guess that was a good option because I could get rid of the frustration, but our soft carpeting ensured it remained fairly quiet! Mind you, there may have been some wailing to accompany it, I’m not sure…you know, I may try this method again now the next time I feel anger brewing. What do you reckon?

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    1. After living in a noisy house, I also prefer the peace and quiet. My parents had six kids so noise was just a part of everyday life. I have two boys and that’s plenty for me!

      Vanessa, I’ve always that it’s good those emotions out, so by all means pound the carpet. That definitely won’t put anyone in harm’s way, except maybe your poor little fists!

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  9. I just had a conversation with a guy whose first child was the six year old that came with a marriage. Tensions with the child went on for some time, the the child used to slam the bedroom door in frustration … so my friend responded by removing the door from the room.

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    1. Frank, you’re not the first person who had experience with this. I can see why it might come to this! You can’t slam a door that’s not there. Of course, you have to give up a little privacy, which present problems in the teenage years.

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  10. I now have this mental image of a younger you running around, brandishing a knife. πŸ™‚ (of course, the image is very inaccurate, since I don’t know what you looked like). When I was in high school, I would split wood to get my anger out, at least when there was any to split. Nothing like some constructive destruction to make you feel better.

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    1. David, psst….my sister chased me around. I was innocent, that’s all I can tell you…well, I think I was! It was pretty crazy. Yes, I find it interesting that we find inner calm being destructive. What does this say about the human condition?

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  11. Wait – we grew up in the same house??? My brother and I TOTALLY chased each other with (butter) knives (https://themercenaryresearcher.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/a-series-of-unfortunate-laments-%D1%87%D0%B0%D1%81%D1%82%D1%8C-%D0%B2%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%8F/)…. we had LOTS of holes in the doors and walls where my brother punched thru them like a teen-aged hulk (with acne). The only thing we were missing was the padded bat…but my brother did throw a dart that stuck in my leg… and we often slammed ALL THE DOORS – we were totally uncivilized…and Italian… πŸ™‚

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    1. Ha ha ha….my twin sister!! We have always have so much in common! That’s a riot! I’m so sorry about the dart in your leg….Ouch! There were lots of holes in our walls, too. One time we had a flood in our house, which forced us to fix everything. At that time, all the holes were fixed, but it probably didn’t last long. Oh, and I have news, my cousin told that the pillow-thing was called the Batakka!! Yes, yes….that was it. It got a lot of use in our house. I’m surprised we didn’t each have own individual Batakka. I’m reading your post now. Thanks for sharing it.

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  12. Tennis is tricky. You also need to have it all under control. I slam the ball as hard as I can, which is very satisfying, but a losing strategy. After I would lose the match I’d have to go somewhere to find a door to slam.

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    1. Stephen, that is true about tennis. It’s both power and control. That’s probably why I sucked at it so bad. Ha ha. I tried to play in high school. I did enjoy whacking that ball though. Nice tie in with the door…but may I suggest grunting?!

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    1. Oh good, Lisa! That was my intent, really! I’m amazed at how many people had a similar experience! I’m in good company here. When my family gets together, we’re still a loud, interrupting bunch, but at least we’re not at each other’s throats.

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  13. Taking a walk is what I do to or scrub the heck out of my floors.

    Haaa the knife thing — yup. Or throwing big rocks at each other and yes., breaking a few windows too.

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    1. Audra, I found house work is good therapy, too. Cleaning my showering can be pretty therapeutic. My mind starts to drift and I get lots of good ideas this way, but I’ve haven’t tried doing it when I’ve been mad.

      Rocks, oh that could be painful! I’m glad it hit windows and not someone’s head!

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  14. My little sister had quite the temper. Actually, she was spoiled rotten and if she didn’t get her way a raging tantrum ensued. I remember her putting her little fist through a glass door hammering on it to get in. She also chased one of my older sisters around the house with a butcher knife when she was a little older. Fast forward and after years of her behaviour I snapped and went after her with my hands around her throat. She hasn’t had a temper tantrum since. πŸ˜‰

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    1. You had knives in your history, too. I’m seeing that it isn’t altogether uncommon, Michelle. Wow, you have quite a story. I hope to see a blog post about this someday. Well, I guess you took care of the situation with the ole’ hands around the throat trick. My sister bit my thigh once! That was our worst fight. Other than that, there was lots of hair pulling. πŸ™‚

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  15. My roommate in college discovered, after leaving a gym in a huff over something her boyfriend said, that those double glass doors with metal bars they tend to have in institutions just don’t slam at all. She slammed it as hard as she could, hoping, I think, that the glass would shatter, and it just kind of slowly closed, having some kind of pneumatic device on the hinge, I imagine, to prevent just such an occurrence. It was most unsatisfying, and she had to be content with simply flouncing away, ponytail swishing from side to side. She said she was pretty sure he got the message. I spoke to the boyfriend later, and he said he had been so busy playing basketball that he hadn’t even noticed she left. I kept that to myself.

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    1. Julia, oh thanks for sharing this story with me! I was just tickled thinking about her swishing ponytail. You were such a good friend to keep the boyfriend’s thoughts to yourself. Guys can be so clueless! Well, this goes to show you that the absence of the door slam can be quite unsatisfying, as you say. Had she slammed the door, the boyfriend would have heard the message and would have seen the swishing ponytail! Thanks for your great comments!

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  16. A lot of yelling goes around in my house, even now, since all my siblings include two teenagers and an 8-year-old. And every member of the family except mum is hot-headed. And all of them slam doors. It is hellish. Thank goodness they’re not glass doors or they would’ve smashed long ago!

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    1. Zen, yes, I wouldn’t advise putting in any glass doors at your house! Some here have said that once a door was slammed, the door is removed. Then, of course, you must resort to something else, which could be worse, right? I just hope there isn’t any blood.

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  17. At first I thought a ‘Boppy’ might be one of those inflatable punching bag things (with the weighted bottom that causes it to ‘bounce back’ after being punched, kicked, etc.)… did you ever see one of those, Amy? I used to love them… except they always seemed to spring an un-patchable leak pretty much instantly. Which is unfortunate, considering its intended use.
    Hahaha… I think my favorite way of dealing with anger is just to sit there and internalize everything. You know… just kind of let it all stew. That’s pretty healthy, right?! πŸ˜‰

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    1. Robert, yes, of course, I am familiar with those punching bags! My son wanted one the other day. I’ve punched a real bag a couple of times and it’s tough. What a workout!! The light, bouncy ones are more my speed!
      Hmm….as far as your anger management goes. Does PhotoShopping help? Hey, why don’t you get one of those bouncy, inflatable punching bags? That’s an idea. πŸ™‚

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  18. Sounds like a few of us grew up in the same home… you left out the swears and occasional slaps. Or, the throwing of dishes. Um, that always got my attention; I had to clean it up. Admittedly, it’s been hard not to have the same things repeated in my own home. I haven’t always remembered to go for that walk. But I work at it, and my kids see that. Powerful post Amy.

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    1. Thanks, and I appreciate your comments. I’m taking a quick dip in my blog to return your thoughtful comments. I imagine throwing dishes would get my attention. Swearing, yes, and lots of hair pulling is what I remember. I see my own kids fight and seeing it more as they get older. As much as I discourage it, I know it will probably persist. Something about siblings…hopefully, it won’t be as bad as I had it. My family home was pretty chaotic because there were always so many of us! I also need to constantly revisit this in my own house, and leaving the scene for a cool down seems to be the best! Now, if I can only remember that. Thanks.

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      1. It’s a tough one… I think that my kids, as they’ve become adults (young adults), have let me know that watching me work to change the patterns I grew up with is inspiring to them. They see that I make mistakes (with them) and they have had some very difficult times between themselves (as sibs), but we are all (as a family) aspiring to improve that. It’s a journey. Deep breaths and self-compassion. Stop by TFTM, when you have time, and share your thoughts. Nice to see you back on… even if briefly. πŸ™‚

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      2. It’s a probably a good idea to talk about it with your kids, huh? I just had a thought that this is something I’ve never really done, thinking they are too young. But maybe not anymore. Maybe I should try to talk them about it. I always think I need to be a model of perfection, but this isn’t very realistic, is it?

        Thanks, indeed, I will stop by!

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      3. I just think that the more we are open with our kids, the better. My kids know a lot about my life, with boundaries. I always figured out what was age appropriate, and what was to be kept private. It’s good for them to know us as people, not just mom.

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