A nondescript yellow workbook stashed in Michael Nelson’s office holds the key to emotional relief for children who literally see red when angry. The book is “Keeping Your Cool: The Anger Management Workbook,” which Nelson, a professor of psychology, wrote with a colleague in 1996. It’s been used nationwide by mental health professionals, including in a school system in Texas.
Nelson is revising the manual for a second publication, but its thrust is the same. It contains proven strategies for teaching anger management to children in a play-by-play, coach-and-player format. Children learn tactics to talk themselves down from their anger, solve problems and use humor to defuse situations, such as a critical parent or an aggressive bully.
Nelson, who publishes extensively on juvenile violence, has used the workbook in a state psychiatric hospital for children and in his own clinic. He recently treated a teenage girl who was suicidal. After seven months, she was thanking him for helping her be happier at home, get better grades at school and, mostly, gain control of her anger.