MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — The kindergartners and first-graders Sollars Elementary School counselor Susan Blake works with are learning ways to cool off when they’re about to blow their top: They know it’s OK to ask for some space or simply walk away.

Blake, along with Anne Turnbull of the Family Support Center, wants to help parents with those same skills. They’re teaching an anger-management workshop that starts Monday at Sollars and mostly is geared toward parents of first-grade, kindergarten and Sure Start students at both Sollars and Cummings elementary schools.

“Anger management is so important in our world,” Blake said. “Most of us haven’t had a lot of help with anger … and this is a way for them to start talking about it.”

Blake is teaching an anger-management unit to her first-grade and kindergarten students, and the workshop will cover the same topics, she said. Parents will learn techniques they can use to manage their own anger as well as that of their children.

“To help kids deal with anger, everybody in the family has to deal with it,” she said. “You can’t tell kids to calm down as you’re yelling and screaming as the model.”

Added Turnbull: “They want their kids to be able to control their anger, and for that they will gain tools.”

The workshop will help participants identify their anger triggers, which may include work stress, hunger or being overtired. Preplanning around those times at home that are particularly stressful, such as getting everybody out the door in the morning, can go a long way toward preventing angry outbursts, Blake said.

Parents also will learn about smoke signals, or signs of anger buildup, something their children are doing already at school.

“Kids talk about feeling hot.” Blake said. “One kid said he gets a stomachache.”

Blake will dispel the myths that counting to 10 or pounding on a pillow dispel anger.

“Just counting doesn’t work because you have all this energy,” she said. And the pillow method just fuels that adrenaline. “A quiet thing is better, like riding a bike or going for a walk. When kids see red, some kids really do see red.”

The three-day workshop will be interactive: On the third day, parents and students will come together to watch a movie about ways to “cool off” and make a poster of ideas the whole family can use to help with anger control.

The class meets at the Sollars’ kindergarten building on Monday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Thursday 10 to 11:30 a.m.; parents may bring their lunch. Sign up by Friday by calling Family Support Center at DSN 226-4735 or Sollars at DSN 226-5331.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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