Teen anger is nothing to brush under the rug. Whether your teen is throwing his or her smartphone at a wall when frustrated that an app isn’t working, or screaming when he or she doesn’t get his or her way, teenagers with uncontrollable anger are bound to be in serious trouble. While some are verbal attackers, others can become physically aggressive. If they don’t learn to control their anger, they will have problems in school, relationships, and careers.Although anger is a normal, healthy emotion, it is important to know how to deal with it. Knowing how to manage anger and how to express it in a socially appropriate way is an important skill for teenagers to learn. Many teenagers struggle with not being able to properly release their intense anger.
Teenagers get angry for different reasons and express these feelings in different ways. One thing they all have in common is they are still learning how to deal with painful emotions since their brains are not fully developed until age 25.
Inappropriate expressions of anger can have serious consequences for troubled teens, but most have the ability to learn better ways to cope.
Teen anger management tips to teach parents
Here are some concepts and strategies that can help teach teens anger management skills.
Every family has different expectations about how to deal with anger. Some families have a low tolerance for yelling, while in others raised voices are a normal form of communication. Create rules for acceptable behavior and explain what is not acceptable. Violent, physical abuse or threats are not allowed in the home. Find out the consequences of breaking the rules.
Anger versus aggression
Teach your child the difference between angry feelings and aggressive behavior. Feeling angry is perfectly acceptable. However, aggressive behavior is not acceptable. Make it clear that you are never allowed to throw things, slam doors, or vandalize.
Teens need to know that aggressive behavior—even just verbal aggression—can have serious consequences. For example, making threatening comments on social media can have legal consequences. Discuss the potential academic, social, and legal consequences of aggressive and violent behavior.
Sometimes aggressive behavior and anger problems stem from a lack of self-confidence. Teach teens how to advocate for themselves appropriately. Talk about the importance of speaking up without violating the rights of others. Play specific questions with your teen, such as what to do if someone cuts in front of him or her or how to react when others try to take advantage.
Angry body language
Teenagers often don’t know when their anger is rising. They made themselves so angry that they couldn’t help but be angry. Ask your child, “How does your body feel when you are angry?” Teach them to recognize the physical warning signs of anger, such as a racing heart, clenched fists, or blushing.
Encourage them to act when they notice their anger rising. This might mean taking a break, taking a few deep breaths, or counting to ten in your mind.
Also, teenagers learn to stop themselves by dealing with anger. Give them a short break to collect their thoughts in a private space, or encourage them to stop talking to a friend when the conversation gets heated. Create a timeout manual. For example, agree that if someone in the house is too angry to continue the discussion, take a 15-minute break before continuing the conversation.
If your child chooses to take a break, do not follow him or her or ask to continue the conversation while he or she is still upset. Instead, agree to revisit the conversation after a short period of abstinence.
Acceptable coping skillsTeenagers need to learn socially acceptable ways to deal with anger. Teens who lack coping skills are more likely to become verbally or physically aggressive. Help your child identify ways to deal with unpleasant emotions such as disappointment and depression.
While drawing may help calm one teenager, another may benefit from a walk. Work with your teen to identify specific coping strategies that will help release anger.
Some acceptable coping skills include the following:
- Participate in sports activities. Most teenagers have a strong urge to do something physical when they feel angry. Participating in sports and other exercises can help you express your anger regularly.
- Grab your punching bag. Teens need safe ways to vent their anger. A punching bag works well, as well as repeatedly hitting a pillow or using a foam stick.
- A break or pause. When anger flares up, teens may need time alone to calm down, yell, cry, or do whatever it takes to stay safe and not negatively impact others.
- Listen to music. Music that is popular with most teens can be a great way to help teens identify and express their anger, whether it’s through singing, dancing, or playing along with angry songs.
- Find out what triggers your anger. The more your child can make connections between the causes of the tantrum, the more control they will have over expressing those emotions.
- Express anger creatively. Young people can use writing and drawing effectively to express and understand anger.
Ability to solve problems
Teens who lack problem-solving skills may use aggression to get their needs met. Teach your teen basic problem-solving skills.
Whether they’re struggling with a school project or trying to resolve a problem with a friend, encourage them to identify three possible solutions. They can then look at the pros and cons of each method before choosing what they think works best.
This can help your child understand that there are many ways to solve a problem without running out. Over time, they will become more confident in their ability to successfully solve problems.
You will teach your child to deal with anger more through your actions than through words. Don’t expect your child to control his anger if you yell, curse, and throw things. Set an example of how to deal with anger. Show your child how to talk about angry feelings and how to express them properly. For example, say, “I’m very upset that you didn’t clean the room the way I asked. I’m going to take a break for a few minutes and then we’ll talk about the implications for you.”
What is healthy anger in teenagers?
Using “health” and “anger” together seems contradictory. However, anger is a natural emotion that can be expressed in healthy ways if teens have the tools to do so. Healthy anger can be an appropriate response when something is unfair, unjust, disruptive, or threatening. For example, if a teenager gets angry when he comes home from school because his teacher is punishing him for something he didn’t do, that anger is healthy and natural.
When to worry about teen anger
Sometimes anger is not a natural reaction to the situation, but a sign that teenagers need anger treatment tools. Unhealthy anger is when the emotional level does not match or is not controlled or violent. It is also unhealthy for teenagers to be angry all the time.
The physiological changes in heart rate and chemistry associated with adolescent anger are not expected to last long or at this level of frequency. When a teenager snickers over a little thing, it’s probably unhealthy anger.
Research shows that higher levels and frequency of teen anger are associated with teen depression. At times, teenagers may experience emotional stress that they do not share with their parents, making them irritable and more prone to anger. Taking the time to find out what might be bothering your teen can help in these situations. Sometimes hormones can also affect his or her moods. However, hormone-induced anger is usually not a long-term condition.
Help with teen anger management
When a troubled teen still can’t control his or her anger, it’s time to consider seeking professional help to find the source of anger and learn ways to manage those feelings. Contact our office and speak to a Christian counselor who can help your teen practice new coping skills.
Expressive therapy helps teens express their anger, anger management groups allow teens to learn from each other, and individual therapy provides a safe place to explore this difficult feeling. Remember that uncontrolled anger in teens is sometimes linked to mental health issues, so be sure to seek professional help for your teen if anger continues to be a problem.
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