Your sister is screaming furiously again, and she is heading your way. Dealing with an angry person can be challenging or even frightening at times. When that angry person is also a family member who lives with you, the situation can be doubly complicated. With time and patience, you can help your sister work through her anger and restore a sense of calm and peace.
Oftentimes, anger is best diffused simply by listening. Whether your sister is angry with you or with a situation that does not involve you, she wants to be heard and respected. Give your sister an opportunity to tell her side of the story without interruptions. Let her know that you care about her, that you can see that she is angry and that you would like to help if possible. If your sister is angry with you and she seems to have a legitimate point, apologize and make amends.
Diffuse Using Body Language
UCLA Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Judith Orloff, M.D., notes that angry people in a hyperadrenalized state may barge into others' personal space or feel compelled to raise their voice. Use nonverbal techniques that help to calm the situation. Give your sister sufficient physical space while you are talking. Rather than matching her angry tone or pressured speech, speak more quietly and slowly. Use an open posture rather than crossing your arms to demonstrate a willingness to listen.
If you and your sister are not close, simply avoiding her while she is angry is a perfectly reasonable approach. If you share a bedroom, do your homework at the library or spend some time at a friend's house until she cools down. If you are close, however, consider helping your sister cope with her anger. This could mean doing something physical together like going for a run, helping her work through a problem at school or encouraging her to address an issue she is having with your parents.
At times, irritation and anger can approach levels which become dangerous to others. If your angry sister has harmed you or has threatened to harm you, it is important to enlist the help of others. The first step is to get yourself to a safe place. If your sister has a counselor, consider requesting a joint session. If you or your sister live with your parents, your mom or dad may be in a better position to intervene. If a threat of violence is imminent, do not hesitate to phone the police.
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