9 ways to help with anger problems: tips for families, friends and carers
Following on from our article 10 ways to manage anger: tips for brain injury survivors, we’ve put together a list of nine techniques that family members, friends and carers can use to help deal with anger problems after brain injury.
Anger is a common and particularly difficult problem after brain injury, often leading to unpredictable, destructive and aggressive behaviour. It can be very hard to be on the receiving end of someone’s anger, which is often directed at those who are closest to us.
What can help?
- You may feel you already know what ‘triggers’ their anger. However, rather than tell them what to do or what to avoid, help them discover it for themselves.
- Design some experiments (or do some tests) with them, and ask them to rate their anger on a scale of 1 – 10 when they are close to possible triggers, e.g. loud noise.
- When you both discover a trigger, help them find another way to look at the situation. Suggest to them that rather than saying:
“Why have you got that TV on so loud, you are so selfish”,
it’s better to try:
“Please could you turn it down a bit, the noise bothers me.”
- Agree on a prompt or sign that you can use when you believe that they are getting angry. For example, you could blow over your shoulder, indicating “blow away your anger”, to prompt them that they need to calm down.
- Busy places can be difficult for someone with a brain injury, as it can be difficult to process all the information. If you see them getting angry in such a situation, encourage them to move away to somewhere quieter.
- If the person is getting angry try to direct their attention away from the cause.
- You may not always know what is making them angry. You will need patience to work out what triggers the anger. Even simple things like watching people chatting freely can bring up feelings of sadness and injustice.
- Recommend that your friend or relative looks through the Headway factsheet Managing Anger after Brain Injury – Tips for Brain Injury Survivors (PDF). You could work through the factsheet with them and help them to use the suggested strategies.
- Think about strategies to help yourself. If they have had a bad day, and they dump their anger on to you, you can think of your own coping statements such as:
“That felt very hurtful, but I know you didn’t mean it that way”.
“What’s this about? You must be feeling in a bad state to be that rude to me”.
Find out more
It is always important to seek professional advice and support where the effects of a brain injury, including anger, are causing a problem. Firstly, speak to your doctor who may refer you an appropriate specialist such as a neuropsychologist.
Many Headway groups and branches offer support to help people cope with the effects of a brain injury, and their carer support groups can be a great way to talk to others who are in a similar situation. You can also contact our national helpline on 0808 800 2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org for support and information.
CONTACT US: 01208 873 567 your local Headway Cornwall centre for help and support.
Our booklet Managing anger after brain injury (PDF) gives more detailed information and guidance.