Anger Management for Teens
Learn About Anger Management for Teens
Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your angry teen? Are you constantly afraid of saying or doing something that will throw your teen into a rage? Living with an angry teen can be exhausting, but it does not have to be hopeless. With better teen anger management, you can take control of your reaction and attitude towards your teen and put in place some strategies to help them learn to manage their anger.
It is important to recognize that anger in itself is not a bad emotion. It is a normal human response to feel anger when we disagree with the way someone else is acting, or if our boundaries have been crossed. Your goal should not be to eliminate anger from your teen’s life, but to help them manage it in a healthy way. If your reaction teaches your troubled youth to suppress their anger instead of recognizing and addressing it, this could lead to other problems down the road.
Tips For Interacting With Your Angry Teen:
- Evaluate the source: Next time you notice tension rising during a conversation with your teen, step back and try to determine what underlying feelings are leading to your teen’s anger. Anger is a secondary emotion, which means it is always preceded by a primary emotion such as hurt, fear, or insecurity. For example, if your teen daughter flies into an angry rage because you told her she could not see her friends on a Friday night, she may have first felt fearful of being left out. This primary emotion can translate into anger in a matter of seconds. If the argument has not gotten out of control yet, try asking your teen about what other emotion led to their anger. Then you can work on a compromise or plan for addressing those feelings.
- Set boundaries for yourself: If your teen’s anger is explosive, violent, or out of control, come up with a boundary for yourself ahead of time for when you will walk away. Someone with an anger problem will likely try to continue to draw you deeper into a fight after their anger has reached an unhealthy level. At this point, trying to reason with them is futile until they have calmed down. When you feel this point has been reached, calmly tell them that you will discuss this at a later time—give them a specific time frame (1 hour, the next morning, etc.), so that they know you are serious about working it out, but right now are giving them time to cool down. Then completely disengage and do not let any amount of yelling, pounding on doors, or cursing draw you back in.
- Don’t take it personally: This is easier said than done, but extremely helpful in maintaining a good relationship with your teen. If you feel you have hurt or wronged your teen, you should absolutely apologize and ask for their forgiveness. But many teens with anger problems can be consistently treated with love and respect and still lash out. In these times, remind yourself that there are other factors at play in your child’s life besides your parenting. Recognize that their anger is probably coming out of a place of fear and insecurity, which may give you more compassion towards them.
- Discuss the fight once they are calm: After you have worked through the details of the fight and your teen is calm, try asking them non-judgmental and non-accusatory questions. Ask questions like, “When I said ______, what was it about that that made you so angry?” or “How can I work on the way I talk about these things with you in the future to help you not reach that level of anger?”
- Allow them to experience the consequences of their anger: After their anger has subsided, your teen may come to you to apologize and try to bargain again for whatever it is they want. Accept their apology and be willing to have a calm conversation with them. Do not remove a punishment that was given because of their inappropriate reaction the first time. Out of your home, your child will have to experience natural consequences for their anger—whether legal punishments, punishments at school, etc. Teach them that apologizing is helpful in restoring good relationships and a good reputation, but they still must face the consequences for their actions.
Through all of the fighting, yelling, screaming, and insults, remember that if there are still fights this means your teen still cares! Families that fight still have intense feelings of care and concern for one another, which unfortunately amplifies the hurt. But don’t give up! Parents that refuse to give up the fight against anger are the ones whose children have the highest chance of healing and growth.