Anger is a normal healthy emotion. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to propel change in our lives and in the world around us. We see it in all demographics; the very youngest to the oldest, rich and poor alike, in all races and ethnicities. It’s part of what makes us human.But what happens when anger seems to get out of hand? Let’s look at some information and avenues to address anger management in teens
The dictionary defines anger as:
“A strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility”
It lists its synonyms as “annoyance, vexation, exasperation, displeasure, and resentment”. Certainly, teen anger fits every one of those descriptors!
What the parents of angry teens really want to know is “Why is my teen so angry and how can I help?”
In general, most “teen anger management” information will jump straight to how to nip these nasty outbursts in the bud, by the way of methods for the parent or by proactive self-regulating steps in children. But what many fail to realize, is that before the fruit, even before that blossom or bud, is an existing state of being with a root.
What is Anger?
Anger looks and sounds like a big red flag
It is a stoplight letting you know that something is wrong. The presence of anger indicates that the person feels abused, abandoned, neglected or wronged. Anger is an emotion resulting from frustration and feelings of powerlessness. It often surfaces when we feel our thoughts and values are being ignored or disrespected.
It’s important to note that anger is different than aggression. Aggression is the uncontrolled acting out of anger.
The function of anger as we already stated is to motivate us toward change. Anger is something that protects us from others, as conversely, shame protects others from us. When we see the anger in a teen we can understand that he or she is trying to cushion themselves against assimilation into thought patterns and values they feel the need to stand apart from.
Where does teen anger come from?
Whether its severe frustration about interpersonal relationships, exasperation from new sets of demands and responsibilities, or a result of lack of anger coping skills, teens seem to have their fair share. One day we’re looking into the face of a sweet, eager to please child and the next we feel like we are enduring the wrath of a miniature tyrant.
Teenage transitions, hormonal adjustments, the natural quest for autonomy, and unmet needs are the biggest sources of vexation and hostility. Basic components we often take for granted like adequate food, sleep, social support, and pain management (if necessary) are often taxed and out of sync in rapidly changing minds and bodies.
How do I help my angry teenager?
We all understand that addressing the problem before it becomes a problem is the best method of diffusing so many teen issues. In an ideal life this would be easy, convenient, and pleasurable. In a Leave-It-To-Beaver world of intact families, deep and insightful dinner conversations would banish anything more than mild discontent from the younger populace.
As we reckon back to modern reality we see there’s a real need for establishing these avenues amid business, demands and never-ending distractions. But if we’re going to make any headway communication and interaction are vital and key.
Helping your child can take many forms. Let’s look at some tools you can use, encourage and develop.
Having open pathways for checking in on your child helps the child to learn and realize that there are ways to vent and discuss problems and issues. Keeping these times light, enjoyable, and engaging is very desirable. Learn to ask targeted questions that need specific answers rather than open-ended questions that simply end in a yes, no or a mumble or grunt. A trusted friend, mentor, parent or counselor, like those at Lifeline For Youth can create a safe environment where children and teens can feel open to speak without being judged or condemned for having emotions and opinions that may differ from others.
Getting connected to and recognizing what emotions we are feeling is an underutilized tool that can make a huge difference. Through it, we can recognize trends and identify triggers. Did stress pour down during testing at school or when deciding which sibling should wash and the other rinse? Were they feeling mouthy at breakfast from lack of sleep? How did they react? How do they view that reaction in hindsight?
Girls tend to express themselves better through writing, but encouraging a “log” of feelings can be good verbiage to use with boys who may feel “journaling” is for girls.
Modeling Anger Management
It’s true that things we do are either natural to us or nurtured in us and managing anger in teens is no different. You can go ahead and put the puppets away. Simply being a more self-controlled adult (especially while dealing with a provocative teen) and verbalizing your feelings, thoughts, and desires in difficult situations can go a long way towards teaching right responses to our emotions.
Often we don’t realize that the very poor example we are trying to discover in their friendships, hobbies, and interests is really staring at us in the mirror. Admitting that we don’t handle everything right or the best can make a favorable impression by admitting we need a course correction on how to defuse our own out of control anger.
Respect the Differences
There’s scarcely a human alive that hasn’t felt like their ideas, goals, and feelings haven’t been snubbed or looked down on by their parents at some point or another. Think back and I’m sure you’ll remember clearly things that you felt the need to define your own boundaries with, that didn’t match your caregivers’ expectations. As individuals, we need structure to keep us safe and wings to explore our individuality. Wise are the caregivers who can balance the two.
Need further help trying to manage your teens’ anger issues? That’s OK. Not everyone knows where to start. Give us a call today at Lifeline For Youth and we’ll help you and your teen get to the root of the problem!