How To Deal With Anger in Your Teen

With the challenges teens are facing these days, it’s easier for them to get caught up in emotional turmoil dealing with everyday situations. However, if your teen is going beyond the normal boundaries of angst, you may have cause for some alarm.

Engaging in anger-related behaviors such as aggressive language, violence or self-harm can be worrisome for even the most experienced parent, but there are steps you can take to help you and your teen deal with their anger.

Understand their wiring. Teens are incredibly emotionally-driven, and while this can be frustrating to parents, it’s all in the way their brains work. Brains do not fully mature until the mid-twenties in most adults, and a teen’s brain is changing at a faster rate than they can process. Acting impulsively, and making poor decisions are all part of the growing process. Help your teen by explaining to them the short term and long term consequences of their actions, as they may not have even thought them through.

Create boundaries, and stick to them. Obviously, it’s impossible to stop your teen’s anger, but explaining that there are acceptable, and more importantly unacceptable ways of expressing it is crucial to keeping control.  Lashing out, physical violence and dangerous behavior is absolutely not tolerated. Create consequences, such as losing privileges or legal involvement.

Try to pinpoint the problem, and look for triggers. If your teen is exhibiting signs of depression, anger can be a natural follow up. The pressure teens feel to excel in every way can lead to feelings of inadequacy among their peers. Struggling with school or envy over not having the latest fashion trends can set off triggers in a teen and cause them to lash out. Talk with them as much as possible about what could be bothering them, and really prove that you are listening.

Redirect their energy. Getting your teen involved in sports can help get out some of that pent-up aggression, but even that can sometimes not be enough or lead to more competition frustration. Teen wilderness programs, summer camps or even teen military programs can be a much-needed retreat from their everyday pressures of life. These may seem like extreme options, but they can teach your teen how to channel their focus into something productive.

Control your temper. As hard as it may be dealing with a troubled teen, losing your cool can only make the situation worse. Try relaxing techniques like breathing exercises, or if things start to escalate fast, remove yourself from the situation for a moment or two. Putting the argument on pause for a few minutes, or even the rest of the evening can save you and your teen from letting things get out of hand. Resume the talking when you are both calmer, and try to remember what set you off the first time. 

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