Teen Anger: Use Self-Awareness and Self-Control

Teen anger is an intense emotion. In fact, it can feel so intense that it can feel bigger than you are. In other words, anger can feel like it has power over you. But with a few simple tools, you can learn to control anger so that it doesn’t get the best of you.

Male and female teens can express anger differently, depending upon their age, temperament, and how they saw their parents display anger. Generally speaking, societal norms teach males to express their anger outwardly while females learn to keep anger to themselves, expressing it only when it feels safe to do so. And male and female teens can already be displaying these patterns in adolescence.

However, it’s important that teens learn to express their anger in a healthy way. Neither exploding with anger or keeping it held in is healthy. For instance,  teen anger turned inward can lead to depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. Anger expressed outwardly in an unhealthy way can lead to violence, bullying, and unhealthy relationships.

Without healthy coping tools, anger can quickly escalate to aggression and even dangerous behavior. In fact, the result of a child’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 harming others.

Anger can come on quickly. With just one insulting word or an unexpected action from a friend, you might rapidly respond with anger. You might even feel your body heat up, your hands sweat, and your head fill with rage. It’s important to know that it’s perfectly normal to feel anger, but it’s how you express your anger that makes it healthy or unhealthy. Teens who struggle with anger management issues often simply lack the tools to appropriately express their anger.

One of the most effective ways to start to manage your anger is to use a combination of self-awareness and self-control. The next time you become angry, try this:

Become Self Aware. To be self-aware means that you have the ability to notice what you’re feeling and thinking. You might even be aware of why you’re having certain emotions and thoughts. Often, children don’t yet have this ability, but teens do. When you’re feeling any kind of intense emotion, such as anger, try stopping for a moment and becoming aware of how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way.

Use Self Control. This might already be obvious, but once you’re aware of what you’re feeling, control the way you express it. If you’re in the middle of class, you might have to express your anger later. Or if you’re at home, you might be able to go to your room and express anger and then later talk about it with your parents. Essentially, what you want to do is put some space in between the feeling of anger and how you display it. This way you can prevent yourself from doing something you regret.

A few other tips for managing anger include:

  • Develop effective coping skills
  • Increase frustration tolerance
  • Improve problem-solving strategies
  • Replace aggressive behavior with assertive behavior

Teens, if you’re working on how to manage your anger, the above suggestions might work for you.

Further Reading