Anger Management: Dealing With Your Angry Teen
It’s hard to imagine that your little ray of sunshine has somehow turned into a sullen, moody teenager. As a parent, you become hard put to discipline and manage your child when you are met with a wall of annoyance, antagonism or resentment.
The teen’s struggle to transition from childhood into adulthood can seem overwhelming. He is faced with many emotions – pressure from parents and peers, feelings of confusion about his body and shifting roles or the intense emotions brought about by his relationships. Often, their way of expressing their frustration is through anger. A teen may not yet be equipped to positively cope with his emotions. This results in his involvement with fights, getting into heated arguments with you or physically expressing their anger (such as punching walls). Parents should be there to provide guidance in order to help the child develop healthy methods for dealing with his feelings.
Here are some things you can do to help your teen:
– Provide a framework for their actions. Teens need structure at this crucial time of his life. You need to establish rules regarding his behavior. Let your teen know that although it is alright to feel anger, there are improper ways of expressing this anger. These improper ways of acting will result in consequences such as being grounded, losing computer or internet privileges, confiscation of devices or if worse comes to worst, police intervention. However, it is also important to remember that you should not use consequences as a threat, especially if these consequences are unreasonable. Saying, “If you don’t stop yelling, I’ll ground you for a month!” will render your threat ineffective. For one, you will only provoke them into more displays of anger. Also, you may not be able to effectively carry out your threat when things have calmed down since the threat of consequences was unreasonable in the first place.
– Seek to understand. There will usually be something behind his displays of anger. Seek to establish communication lines between you and your child, where he can feel safe to share his feelings. Try to simply be there for your teen, spending time with him and listening to him without judging, criticizing of giving advice.
– Provide your teen with healthy ways to blow off steam. Rather than waiting for the inevitable eruption, provide your teen with physical means by which he can relieve anger. You can harness his interests and natural abilities and get him involved in visual arts (painting or drawing), writing, music, sports or exercise.
– Manage your anger. As a parent, you can set a good example on how to effectively manage anger. If you give in to your feelings, you may perpetuate the problem. Yelling, calling names and getting physically violent are not the responses you would like your child to see. With these, you only lose the battle. It also shows the teen that he, too, can be verbally and physically abusive.
– Give your child some breathing room. Your teen will need some space for him to think and process the situation and how he feels about it. While we would like to be there for our child, we also should respect his need for privacy. This also means that you may need to walk away in an effort to calm things down. Doing so allows you and your child to cool down so as to avoid confrontations when everyone’s emotions are high.
– Be on the alert for signs of violent behavior. There are red flags to which parents must look out for, red flags that indicate that your child may need more help resolving aggressive and violent behavior. This includes cases of bullying at school, violence to animals, threatening, obsession about violence (games, movies or websites) and stating a fantasy about committing some act of violence.
– Call the police. When things go from bad to worse such as when your child starts being violent to the point that he becomes a danger to himself and to others, it may be time for more drastic action. You may need to call the police, particularly when there is an immediate threat to you or other members of the family. Often, police will simply give the teen “the talk”, giving him a warning about the consequences when he decides to escalate his aggression.
– Consider a troubled teen program. When a teen starts being abusive and his anger leads him to other harmful acts (such as substance abuse or hurting family members), you can seriously think about putting him into a troubled teen program. This can help take out the teen from his emotionally-charged home into a new environment. Choose a program that not only provides therapeutic methods to help your teen effectively deal with their emotions but also can help you determine whether your teen may have a mood disorder. Some programs include a wilderness or outdoor program, teen summer camps, a military program or a troubled teen residential program.