Reaching out to teenage boys has always been difficult for teachers, but a new programme being implemented in Victoria, Australia, has seen some significant results with teenage boys with anger management issues.
Aimed at 12 to 15 year olds, the 22 week anger management course has been designed by Heavy METAL (Men’s Education Towards Anger and Life) founder David Nugent, who says the programme can change young people’s lives.
“Men and young people get stuck (in a certain behaviour) and as human beings we either turn to fight or flight…one is very aggressive and one is extremely passive. So we’ll choose one of these behaviours, and it’s about opening up and looking at what choices we can make.”
He says while some boys believe they have a short fuse, the programme teaches them to develop patience when dealing with either people.
Mr Nugent founded Heavy METAL, a behaviour change group for men, three years ago, and channeled many of the original lessons and feedback through to the teenagers.
“With my reputation and success (from Heavy METAL) someone suggested to me that they (teenagers) needed to help and I decided to put forward a proposal, and they took it on board.”
The pilot programme ran last year and was quite successful, he says.
“We were so successful that the school has now invited us back, and they want me to do a class programme they can put in the curriculum.”
Mr Nugent says the programme seems to teach the kids important life lessons, and will in the future contain both make and female participants.
Getting rid of antisocial behaviour and accessing kids who are starting to develop these behavioural patterns with teachers, peers or authority figures, is a large part of the challenge, he says.
“We look at stuff like self-awareness, impulse control, active listening and empathy, and exploring what this means.”
Me Nugent says teachers and principals have seen a change in their problem students.
Students often want to talk to Mr Nugent personally to talk through problems.
“Kids start seeing the cost of being angry because they do recognize now that there are a lot of things to be worried about, it’s about life learning, communication, agreeing to disagree and choosing to walk away.”
My Nugent makes kids often feel like outcasts, so one of his tricks is to learn to talk to them differently.
“I didn’t want to have this discipline hierarchy in the room but being able to communicate with kids non-aggressively and know they have got a perspective or point of view, allow them to express that without prejudging them.”
The course planned the this year is funded by the Department of Human Services and Education and Training, and is sure to keep growing in the future.
“It’s just growing and so is my men’s group. It’s just a case of funding.”
For more information, see Heavy METAL website: www.heavymetalgroup.com.au
By Angela Ferez - Principles Today Magazine, New Zealand