Balloons of Anger

This was my Social Work with Children presentation...B a l l o o n s  o f  A n g e r


o Balloons (2 per person)

The purpose of this intervention is to help children learn to appropriately manage anger. The exercise teaches positive and negative ways of managing anger through visualization. The exercise also helps children to become more cognizant of how others are impacted by their behavior.

The child is given two balloons. The child then blows up one of the balloons and ties it so the air is enclosed inside. The therapist at this point engages the child in a discussion on what provokes their anger. The therapist then explains that the balloon represents the child’s body and air inside represents the child’s anger. Example discussion questions include, “If you hold all of your anger in is there any room for other feelings?” “How does your body feel when you are angry?” “Can you feel anything else—happy, excited—when you are so full of anger?”

The child is then instructed to pop the balloon (stomping, poking). The therapist then relates the popping of the balloon to a behavioral outburst. The therapist should talk about any fears or feelings associated with popping the balloon. The child should be encouraged to describe what the popping of the balloon would look like if it were a person: hitting, screaming, kicking. At this point, the therapist can also explore how other people feel when the child gets angry.

Finally, the child should be instructed to blow up the second balloon; this time, however, the child should not tie the balloon but hold it closed. The child then releases the air little by little and is asked what is happening to the balloon in terms of its size. The child can be asked questions including “How could you slowly release your anger?” Talk, walk away, listen to music. “How do you feel when you slowly release your anger?” “How do you think other people feel when you slowly release your anger?”

Horn, T. (2004). Balloons of anger. In Kaduson, H. & Schaefer, C. (Eds.), 101 favorite play therapy techniques (pp.250-253). Lanham, MA: The Rowman & Littlefiled Publishing Group, Inc.

...and YES a bunch of grad students definitely participated in this.  Each week students present different play therapy techniques.  Other interventions that students have facilitated include using bubbles to learn about stress relief breathing, throwing spounges to express and understand anger, and playing with clay to understand pain.  Like I said...Social Work with Children is most definitely my favorite class!

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