Teens can get angry over many things. They might feel like you don’t understand them. They might feel like you are stifling their individuality or independence. However, most of these circumstances are common and can be easily managed. When teens are angry due to a significant event in their lives, such as the divorce of their parents, the death of a loved one, witnessing violence, or experiencing some form of abuse, their anger resides at a deeper level and needs addressing.
Certainly, without healthy ways of effectively managing anger, it can quickly escalate to aggression and even dangerous behavior. In fact, the result of a teen’s inability to control anger can lead to damaging relationships at home, school, and work. In extreme cases, failing to appropriately manage anger in adolescence can later lead to domestic violence and child abuse, workplace violence, and divorce. There are many scenes in films and television shows that demonstrate how anger can get the best of people and ruin relationships.
In some cases, teens who struggle with anger management issues often simply lack the tools to appropriately express their anger. For instance, teens can learn how to acknowledge anger but not respond to it. They can learn how to express their anger in a healthy way. Another way to use anger is to direct it towards a positive cause, such as volunteering in the community or playing a physically demanding sport.
Some of the most effective ways to manage anger include:
- Develop effective coping skills
- Develop control over angry responses
- Increase frustration tolerance
- Improve problem-solving strategies
- Replace aggressive behavior with assertive behavior
These skills can be learned in therapy, from a community anger management class, or through private instruction. It’s important to know that anger, if not managed or expressed, can lead to psychological concern. Anger turned inward can lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Anger expressed outward in an unhealthy way can lead to violence, bullying, and unhealthy relationships.
In fact, it’s important to know that in some cases no matter the tools that a teen learns to cope with their anger, it might continue to be an issue until it is properly addressed. For instance, if a teen exhibits anger related to a traumatic or disturbing event in life, it’s important to give that teen opportunities to express their feelings. It’s important for parents to validate and respect their teens’ feelings. If teens are being punished for behavior that stems from unresolved anger, parents might only be adding to a teen’s anger.
Instead, parents might first address the feeling of anger that drove the behavior in the first place. Then, when there is an emotional connection between the parent and teen, and especially only after a teen feels heard and understood for their feelings, then a parent can address the unwanted behavior and discuss consequences. However, discussing consequences without really acknowledging a teen’s anger will only make matters worse.
In order to properly manage a teen’s anger, a parent must connect with their teen emotionally, give them healthy coping tools, and seek the support of a mental health therapist if necessary.