Children & Punching Bags for Therapy

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When a child is dealing with emotional stress or other anger issues, parents search out the best solutions to ease the pain. Working through a child's mental health issues can be taxing on an entire family, but through communication and the help of a punching bag, there are ways to ease the pain.

Identification

  • According to AustinChildGuidance.org, the first step in helping children when they are dealing with emotional issues is encouraging them to name their feelings. Many young children are capable of verbally expressing themselves and often act out their emotions. Distinguishing between emotions and actions will assist with their emotional development. Pointing out when a child's behavior is in reaction to a behavior, such as becoming aggressive over a taken toy, will teach children their feelings are OK and to express them in a healthy, non-physical way.

Effects

  • Using a punching bag is one of the most recommended ways for children to appropriately vent anger during therapy. According to children-psychology-and-mental-health.com, many physical actions help vent anger such as yelling or hitting a pillow, but using a punching bag offers an excellent outlet.

Types

  • Children-psychology-and-mental-health.com states the fist type of punching bags used for children's therapy were inflatable punching dolls, which didn't offer good resistance and often burst during use. The website suggests using a solid and securely attached punching bag. Children should use protective hand gear when using a punching bag for therapy.

Benefits

  • There are concerns that using a punching bag for therapy will send mixed messages to frustrated children by encouraging them to use violence to express their anger. According to children-psychology-and-mental-health.com, children are smart enough to determine the appropriate times to express their emotions with a punching bag and when not to. Punching bag therapy teaches children how to manage and control their emotions, and it also improves hand-eye coordination and provides physical activity.

Theories/Speculation

  • According to Art Markman, Ph.D., on PsychologyToday.com, punching bags don't actually do anything to relieve stress and frustration. Through a study conducted in 1999, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, participants were given time to express their frustrations during an experiment using punching bags while others did not. It reinforced the link between anger and aggression, causing those who took the opportunity to punch the punching bag to become more aggressive than those who did nothing.

Considerations

  • If using punching bag therapy for children to express their anger and frustration, make sure you discuss other healthy methods of venting issues. Encouraging children to take a timeout from activities or situations that cause them frustration might allow them to cool down before acting out.

References

  • Photo Credit "Just a little ticked at mom" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Tina Keller (Tina Keller) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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