Has your teen been rude or aggressive lately? Are you worried the child is losing temper often, with little or no control over their behavior when they’re angry?
If you are nodding in agreement, and if your teen’s aggressive behaviors include verbal and physical attacks involving the destruction of property or injury to self or others, you should be concerned (1).
Anger is a normal emotion that needs to be expressed in a healthy way to prevent building up of negative thoughts and feelings. But when a teenager is unable to do that, they may lose control and create situations that could be difficult to handle.
In this MomJunction post, we explain the reasons for anger in teens, signs of teen anger, and tips for effective anger management in teens.
Why Do Teens Get Angry?
Anger is a natural emotion and is experienced by people of all ages, including babies, children, teens, and adults. Different things could make different people angry. Things that commonly lead to anger issues in teenagers include:
- Feeling misunderstood
The ability to regulate our emotions begins to develop in infancy. The significant hormonal and other developmental changes of adolescence may cause teens to struggle at times with emotional regulation. They may feel helpless with big and overwhelming emotions. In a way similar to the developmental leap of toddlerhood, this developmental stage calls on parents to listen and try to stay calm as they help their children navigate this often tumultuous stage of life. So the next time your teenager is angry, try to find out what’s making them angry to help them deal with it better. But how do you know when the teen is angry? The next section talks about it.
What Are The Signs Of Teen Anger?
Healthy expression of anger involves verbal communication of the emotion, without getting aggressive or violent. But when your teen struggles to contain their anger other more problematic behaviors may emerge.
- Physical attacks
- Verbal attacks with foul language
- Malicious gossip
- Intense sarcasm
- Prejudiced speech
- Substance abuse
Some teens turn to substance use in part to help manage out-of control emotions. Your child might experience physical symptoms along with intense anger and frustration.
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Clenched jaw or fists
- Muscle tension
If you can help your teen to notice these physical reactions you can help them to calm down and have more control over these symptoms of intense anger.
Nine Anger Management Techniques For Teens
Pent up frustration in teens often results in angry feelings which they can convey in a myriad ways. Sometimes, acting out become their means to express anger, especially when they have difficulty using words to express their feelings. Teaching teenagers how to manage their anger is essential to protect them and the others around them from harmful physical and emotional effects. Here are nine anger management techniques to help your teenage boy or girl convey their emotions better.
- Setting rules at home: Let your teen have clarity on what behavior is acceptable at home and what will not be tolerated. Have rules on how everyone in the house can express their anger, along with consequences for breaking the rules. This encourages them to behave in a specific way and tone down their anger consciously.
- Teaching them the difference between feelings and behavior. Feelings of anger are acceptable and essential, but aggressive behavior that can hurt themselves or other people is unacceptable. This includes hurting others with words. Build self-confidence: Teens may become angry at others when when they feel badly about themselves.
- elp Help your teen to identify when their emotions are getting out-of-control. Model calm breathing and a gentle tone of voice to help them return to a calm state. Taking deep breaths, counting numbers, taking a brisk walk or running, or listening to soothing sounds or music can help calm the mind and the body, and control the anger.
- Model use of time out when things get heated. Do not insist that they continue the conversation when they seem to be upset, for that could make them more angry.
- Teaching problem-solving skills: Half the reason for teen frustration or anger is the inability to solve a problem, which leaves them feeling helpless. Equip the teen with problem-solving skills so that they can analyze a situation and find potential solutions and use them confidently. This helps them deal with situations better, whether it is resolving a disagreement with their friends or siblings.
- Helping them cope better: Anger can become aggression when the teenager doesn’t know how to cope with anger. Coping skills help them deal with unwanted situations and keep their anger in control. Work with them to understand what kind of coping techniques/strategies can help diffuse their anger.
- Being a role model: Be a role model to them. Show them how you express your dissatisfaction appropriately, by putting the words in the right manner. It helps them understand that they can express their anger without intimidating or threatening the other person.
- Enrolling in anger management classes: If handling your teen’s anger is getting difficult, then enroll them in anger management classes. Such workshops focus on teaching them the different techniques to overcome their aggressive behavior by developing an internal ability to control and channel their emotions.
- Seek professional help. If your child is having significant difficulty managing anger they are likely communicating through their behavior that things feel out of control. Taking time to understand their experience in consultation with a therapist can help identify the source of the problem and address the underlying cause. Keep reading for a few more tips on how to help your teenager manage their anger better.
15 Tips For Anger Management In Teens
When a teenager’s behavior seems out of control, bordering aggressive and violent behavior, they are likely communicating that they need help. Here are some tips on how you can help your teens manage their angry feelings.
- Be curious about the reason for your teens angry feelings. Is it due to pressure at school or work, problems in their relationships or friendships, conflicts within the family, or hormonal fluctuations? Stress of all kinds can lead to difficulty regulating emotions and lead teens to “lose their cool.” Take time to listen and help them make sense of their experience.
- Listen and talk with them. If you notice problematic aggressive behavior in your teen, then spend some time with them and understand their experience and their feelings.
- Try to understand their perspective. Don’t be judgmental or disrespectful if they express any negative feelings. Instead, hear them out and help them deal with their feelings in a healthy way. Focus on the present and avoid bringing up their past mistakes during the conversation, as it can make them upset and feel guilty.
- Acknowledge their good behavior. If your teen is following the rules for expressing angry feelings, appreciate them and encourage them to continue doing the same. Being noticed by someone they love for their positive behavior is often all the reward they need.
- Sometimes it’s best not to react to their problematic behavior. For example, teens may become passive aggressive when you ask them to do a task for you. Rather than getting angry about their attitude, ignore their behavior, and thank them at the end if they complete the work. They may keep whining about it, but by not engaging in an argument their frustrations may diffuse with time. .
- Stop nagging. Constantly nagging or criticizing a teen for whatever they do, can irritate and anger them. For instance, tell them to do something once, and remind them once or twice maybe, if necessary. Try positive comments instead of nagging
- Do not threaten Parents will have difficulty regulating their own emotions when provoked by their teen’s problematic behavior. If you lose your cool and say things you regret, when you have both calmed down take time to apologize and work through the misunderstanding.
- Empathize It is a common notion among teenagers that parents can never understand their problems. However, this notion can be changed when you empathize with them. Empathy helps them open up about their feelings and emotions, which can reduce problematic aggressive behavior.
- Have a sense of humor. Teens may flutcutate dramatically between extremes of emotion. If you feel comfortable using humor you may be able to lighten the mood with a funny line, or cracking a joke that puts them at ease.
- Be willing to negotiate. If your teen complains about the house rules and restrictions,you might want tonegotiate and tweak the rules a bit to give them more of a sense of control. This gives them the opportunity to take responsibility in a healthy and constructive way.
- Respect their privacy. Teens usually use their room as their private place, where nobody is allowed without their permission. Respect their need for privacy and give them space as needed. Always knock and ask permission before entering their room, as an unannounced entry as it can lead to unnecessary rifts.
- Acknowledge their requests. When teenagers come up with a request, they expect a positive response from their parents. When that does not happen, the disappointment may lead to anger. Instead of bluntly rejecting their requests, try to make them understand why it is not possible. This makes them feel that their wish is being acknowledged and helps them to consider why it cannot be granted at the moment.
- Do not talk down to your teen. Treating them as the young adults that they are becomingcan be a confidence booster for them.
- Encourage physical activities. Exercises are a great way to improve mood, which in turn helps prevent the build-up of angry feelings within. Make sure that your teen stays physically active as it supports emotional wellbeing. For some, meditation is also a great way to relax and refresh the mind.
- Help them manage mood swings. The hormonal and developmental changes are at a high during the teenage phase. Difficulty regulating emotions can result in mood swings and irritable behavior. Try to understand your teen’s struggles and comfort them when they struggle with big feelings.
A teen undergoes many emotional changes during puberty and may not have the experience to manage their big feelings the right way. Timely support and intervention from the family and professionals, if needed, can prevent problematic aggressive behavior and teach teens to appropriately handle difficult situations.
- Solutions To Control Aggression In Adolescence
- Conflict Resolution Skills For Teenagers
- Social And Emotional Problems In Adolescence
- Tips On How To Raise Teenage Boys And Girls