With all the many stressors that our teens face on a daily basis, it’s not surprising that many find themselves with a large dose of adolescent anger. We’ve all experienced this emotion, and know that rarely are the results of an outburst beneficial. However, it’s important to be in control of anger rather than allowing it to control us. Choosing how we express our anger, or anger management, is the key.
There are many causes for teen anger, such as experiencing a loss in an athletic competition, finding out that a much-anticipated event was cancelled, performing poorly on an important academic test, or having an acne outbreak the day before a special event. Even the way your child’s friends behave can cause an outbreak of teen anger.
Anger is a very powerful emotion because it is fueled by a surge of adrenaline. And our teens, often feeling overwhelmed by the stressors of school studies, social activities, making decisions about post-high school plans, all combined with their raging hormones, can have little energy left for managing anger self-control. Although it’s not unusual for teens to have anger outbreaks, there are ways parents can help teens modify their behavior.
- Triggers: Ask your teen to identify what triggers the anger and why? Keep a written journal to become aware of the patterns and of the triggers.
- Alternatives: After your teen’s anger outbreak, have him or her size up the situation and consider what other alternative ways it could have been solved. Often teens unknowingly create stress in their routines because of poor time management. Has your teen budgeted enough time to complete assignments and meet responsibilities? Listing possible solutions will help for the next time that your teen encounters a similar situation.
- Talk it through: Talk about the best ways to handle anger in various situations that provide a beneficial outcome and create the least amount of damage. For example, if your teen stumbles over a chair, kicking the chair would only provide an opportunity to further hurt his foot. Moving the chair out of the way would be a more beneficial solution.
- Let out the stress: Lastly, make certain that your teen has enough exercise to release some of the pent-up stress that accumulates in his or her body. This also allows for venting frustrations and emotions that can suddenly explode into a full-blown anger attack if not addressed.
Teen anger is a natural occurrence, but when things get out of control, situations can become difficult to handle and downright dangerous. With my teenage boys, we talk about managing anger when things are calm and we can reason together. We talk about what different anger management strategies best work for them before the strategies need to be applied. I have seen a few things thrown in anger ( luckily nothing but a water bottle or shoe sailed through the air). But left unchecked, this lack of control could have escalated and the adrenaline-fueled emotion could have gotten the best of the situation. Remember, Teen anger management is a skill that needs to be practiced and refined.