The teenage years are years full of change. Teens are beginning to truly develop a sense of themselves, and trying to figure out where they fit in life. Additionally, changes are happening in the body – physical, emotional, mental and hormonal – and these changes can cause feelings of confusion and frustration. It is normal for teens to feel frustrated and sometimes become angry. However, sometimes anger gets carried to unhealthy levels. It is important for you, as a parent, to recognize the signs of a teen anger problem and help your teen learn anger management skills. This can prevent future episodes of teen violence.
Warning signs of a teen anger problem
Watch your teens for signs of an anger problem. If anger problems are not addressed in a timely manner, it can lead to incidents of teen violence. Here are some signs that an anger problem exists (1):
- Regular loss of temper over small things
- Property damage during times of anger
- Victim of a bully or prolonged teasing
- Drug and alcohol use
- Regular arguments with family and friends (may begin to turn physical)
- Cruelty to animals
What you can do to help manage teen anger
As a parent, you need to help your teen work through his or her anger issues, preferably before they become serious enough to result in teen violence. Most teen anger problems stem from frustrations, fears and rejection. Here are some things you can do to help (1):
- Offer your support and love
- Listen carefully and engage in conversation. Try to understand the underlying issue beyond the surface behavior
- Be on the look out for anger triggers and try to find ways to deflect it
- Teach your teen that anger is understandable, but that it needs to be controlled
- Show your teenager how you find positive outlets for your anger and frustration
- Help your teen recognize anger-related feelings and practice control
There is also the option of seeking professional help. Anger management and counseling with a mental health professional can help your teen work through his or her anger issues. If your teen feels comfortable, you should attend counseling sessions with him or her to show your care and support.
Suggestions you can give your teen to deal with anger
You can help you teen learn anger management techniques by sharing the following with him or her (2):
- Deep breathing can help calm and relax your teen
- Suggest that your teen make a conscious effort to stop and think through the situation. Could the anger stem from a misunderstanding?
- Problem solving techniques can help your teen address a problem by identifying it and then trying to work toward a solution. Warn your teen that it may not be a quick solution.
- Suggest “alone time” for your teen. This can help him or her manage stress and reduce feelings of anger and frustration. Some common stress-reducing alone activities:
- Writing feelings and thoughts in a journal
- Listening to music
- Taking a walk
Teen Anger Management Sources:
- “Teen Anger: Management and Prevention,” Family First Aid [online].
- “Anger Management,” National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center [online].