Why you should never deal with anger by shouting back, says Norfolk and Suffolk charity

The Benjamin Foundation uses the Nurtured Heart Approach to dealing with anger. Stock photograph. Pi

The Benjamin Foundation uses the Nurtured Heart Approach to dealing with anger. Stock photograph. Picture: THINKSTOCK - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Shouting back at someone who is being angry towards you might seem like the easiest thing in the world to do.

But while not arguing back in such situations may seem counterintuitive at first, one charity believes its approach of ignoring anger and instead being positive is reaping rewards.

The Benjamin Foundation - a charity which helps young people and their families deal with challenging circumstances - adopts the Nurtured Heart Approach to deal not just with those it helps, but also with fellow colleagues.

Instead of resorting to telling offs and harsh words, it believes “reinforcing positives” is more important - and that it is better “to give very little energy to negative behaviour”.

When met with shouting, support workers simply do not engage - and will even say praise an angry person who has calmed down for managing their aggressive behaviour.

They stress that clear boundaries and rules are integral to the approach, along with immediate consequences for those break the rules.

And while it may seem like giving in and losing an argument to some, Benjamin Foundation workers believe it is more important to de-escalate tensions than enter into heated debate.

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Matt Garrod, the Norfolk and Suffolk charity’s head of operations, said: “It’s about working with young people and placing a lot of emphasis on the positives and giving very little energy to negative behaviour.

“After the event, you’d probably say well done for managing your behaviour - it could’ve quite easily escalated in that situation.

“It’s about seizing the opportunity to reinforce positive behaviours all the time.

“We know and have got that experience that it’s a way that does help them progress.

“If people continually have negative energy, the whole thing will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

The Nurtured Heart Approach was originally created in 1992 by Howard Glasser and is often used in schools in the United States, as well as by social workers, healthcare professional and those in criminal justice.

The Children’s Success Foundation, the organisation behind the approach, says on its website: “Despite the best intentions, traditional methods can deepen an intense child’s impression that the most interesting and energised responses happen when things are going wrong.

“Lectures, reprimands and raised voices are not consequences, as most adults believe, but rather are rewards of connected energy.”

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