I'm worried my son will lose control and lose his job

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Continuing our Q & A series – answering questions from parents about their young person's work and learning choices.

My son’s school has managed to get him into an apprenticeship, working for a mechanic. My son is pretty happy, and I’m relieved as he loves his cars and he was sick and tired of school.

However, something has been bothering me. My son tends to get angry very easily when he’s frustrated. I’m worried something will go wrong and he’ll shout or throw something and then lose his job.

He needs this job. What can I do?

Dad of angry son

Dear dad of angry son

It’s a big transition from school to the world of work. Learning how to behave around your workmates is as challenging as learning the tasks of a new job.

Feeling a bit angry when frustrated is normal, but any problems with the expression of anger will make it difficult for your son to adjust to his new life as an apprentice.

Here are some ways to help your son.

Six steps to coping with anger on the job

A young apprentice angrily uses a wrench to tighten the nuts on a wheel while his boss stands behind him closely telling him what to do. They are standing under a car.

Apprentices get closely supervised, so learning to control anger is essential.

1. Role model coping with anger

How do you handle anger? Model calm and constructive ways of dealing with anger around your son. He’s likely to pick up anger management skills just by watching you.

2. Make him aware of his anger flashpoints

Chat about the types of things that make you angry. Describe how it feels in your body when you get angry. Do you breathe differently? Do you start to feel heated?

Have your son imagine when he is angry. How does it feel for him? What does he notice? What tells him he is angry? What triggers his anger?

3. Help him set up a healthy routine

It’s easier to handle frustration if you normally feel well rested and healthy. Encourage your son to set up a solid routine where he gets lots of rest, good food and exercise. Exercise is especially good at removing the anxiety and stress that can lead to anger.

Chat about how you get ready for work each day and how you deal with frustration when things go wrong. If you don’t go out to work, talk about how you deal with frustrations in your daily life such as getting help when the internet is not working.

4. Work out an anger plan

Your son will get frustrated. Share with him this on the spot anger-busting strategy:

  • Stop. Ask yourself – "What am I feeling?"
  • Walk away from the situation.
  • Take up to five deep breaths. Shake your arms.
  • When feeling calmer, return to the situation.

5. Role play situations with your son

Once you’ve worked out an anger plan, try role playing situations with your son. Act out how he could talk to his workmates if they make him angry.

6. Help your son learn to forgive

A lot of anger comes from our expectations of ourselves and other people. Sometimes we can be angry at ourselves for making a mistake, or angry at people for not behaving in the way we expect them to.

Help your son develop an attitude of acceptance that we all make mistakes. Encourage him to see mistakes as normal and not personal attacks. Being able to understand and forgive our own and other people’s behaviour can reduce stress and release a lot of anger.

Find out more

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Our Q & A series of career tips answers common questions parents have about their young person's work and learning choices.

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Updated 24 Jan 2019