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Physical signs of anger

Anger is an emotion that has been with us from the beginning and comes from an ancient part of the brain. Anger is a defence mechanism, it lets us know when we have to take action, it can protect us from harm and without it we may not have survived as a species. When we feel a threat whether from an attacker or to our self-esteem we are primed to take action.

The brain region responsible for anger is so fast and efficient that it will act quicker than the thinking part, where we can weigh up the consequences of our actions, which is why when we experience anger we react without thinking and very often regret what we have done. The body goes through several changes:

• The brain releases chemicals (catecholomines), which gives us a burst of energy, also adrenaline and noradrenaline.

• Accelerated heart rate

• Breathing rate increases

• Face may flush

• Blood flow diverted to the big muscles to prepare us for action.

• Attention narrows

• Blood flow to digestive system reduced, which may cause stomach tightness

• Muscles tense, clenching fists, some people shake and legs may twitch

• Some people begin to shed tears

• Some may go completely quiet

• The urge to pace up and down

• Hitting out

• Biting their hands

• Swearing

These signs are not exhaustive and you may not notice all of them in your child, I have for example noticed in some of the young people I have worked with become very sarcastic when angry.

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