If your teen is getting angry often with frequent outbursts of rage and defiance, you may want to help them with managing their anger. Anger is a natural and healthy emotion. However, if it becomes destructive and affects your teen’s functioning in life, such as fights at school, few peer relationships, and impaired family relationships, then they may need to learn how to manage that anger.
Male and female teens might express anger differently and have different relationships to this intense emotion. Of course, this isn’t true for all teens, but typically society teaches males to express their anger outwardly while females learn to keep anger to themselves, expressing it only when it feels safe to do so.
People, situations, and even past experiences can cause anger to grow inside. Teens who struggle with anger management issues often simply lack the tools to appropriately express their anger. For instance, anger can be channeled towards a challenging project. Anger is a powerful emotion and the energy behind it can be used towards a good cause. Another choice is to move beyond anger, to acknowledge that it exists but not to let it get the best of you. Now this doesn’t mean to repress anger; that can lead to depression and self harm. Instead, a teen can learn how to effectively channel his or her anger.
Certainly, without healthy coping tools, anger 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 among friends. In extreme cases, failing to appropriately manage anger can lead to bullying others, expulsion from school, property damage, and more.
Some of the most effective ways to manage anger include:
- Teach your teen effective coping skills
- Develop control over angry responses
- Establish rules and consequences for destructive or aggressive behavior
- Increase frustration tolerance
- Improve problem-solving strategies
- Channel the power of anger toward something positive
- Replace aggressive behavior with assertive behavior
- Try to talk with your teen about what’s underneath the anger. Sometimes it may be sadness, disappointment, or abandonment.
- Learn warning signs and triggers of anger and discuss them with your teen.
- Encourage your teen to relieve anger in healthy ways such as such as exercising when angry instead of taking it out on someone
- When needed, give your teen space and time to calm down and then discuss unhealthy situations later.
- Parents and caregivers – learn to manage your own anger in a healthy way and serve as a model for your teen.
If you feel equipped to do so, you can teach your teen these skills at home. However, some of these skills are difficult to maintain, and they may require the support of a mental health provider. Also, a therapist may be necessary if you see your teen exhibiting unresolved issues having to do with anger. For instance, anger turned inward can lead to self-harm, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Anger expressed outwardly in an unhealthy way can lead to violence, bullying, and unhealthy relationships.
If you see any of these issues in your teen, seek the support of a mental health provider.