When I was a social worker, I worked for a while as the program coordinator of an anger management program for teens. It’s normal for teens to be angry sometimes. Well, really, it’s normally for everyone to feel angry sometimes, but the teen years are stressful (for teens and parents alike) and teens frequently get frustrated and anxious and even scared about all the changes they are experiencing and that can lead to a lot of anger. While many teens make it through those pivotal years with just a few angry outbursts, others seem angry all the time and their anger can seem explosive, scary or even violent. Here are some things you can do to help your teenager cope with anger.
Stay Calm Yourself
When teens are angry, they aren’t always very nice. I know, that’s putting it mildly, right? They are often really good at knowing just what to say to push their parents’ buttons and they often aim below the belt.
If you get angry and resort to name calling, yelling and other behaviors, though, that’s not going to help the situation. One angry, out of control person is bad enough. Two angry, out of control people is a recipe disaster. You need to stay calm and in control. Take a time out if you need one. If you have trouble managing your own anger, seek professional help for yourself.
No matter how reasonable and fair you feel your rules are, there will be times your teen disagrees. Being consistent helps prevent arguments, though. For instance, if your teen knows every time he comes home after curfew, he will not be allowed to go out with friends the next night, he may still be upset if you remind him of the rules but at least he won’t be surprised. If he knows the rules, he will be better able to think about the consequences before he acts. Also, there will be no need to negotiate about the consequences when he does come home late. You can simply remind him that’s the rule, the same as it’s always been.
Set boundaries and stick to them, but only set boundaries you can enforce. For instance, you can’t force your teen to stop using curse words. However, you can inform him that you won’t continue a discussion if he begins cursing. Be calm and consistent when enforcing your boundaries.
Be a Good Listener
Listening to your teen doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll agree with him or give him what he wants. For instance, if he comes home after curfew and your rule is that coming home late means not being allowed to go out with friends the next night, he may want to tell you why he thinks your rule is stupid and you should change your mind. In most instances, you should stick to your rules, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to what he has to say.
One way to let him know you’re really listening is to use listening body language. Lean forward a little, make eye contact, relax your hands and arms. Another way to show you’re listening is to echo back what you hear him saying. Say something like, “I hear you’re really angry and that you really want to go to that party tomorrow night. Maybe you’re disappointed, too?”
Fight Fair – and Teach Your Teen to Do the Same
You’re going to have disagreements with your teen but they don’t have to become knock down, drag out fights. Fight fair. Stick to the issue at hand, don’t resort to name calling or hurtful remarks, don’t yell, don’t curse, don’t aim below the belt. Call a time out if you need time to calm down.
When to Seek Professional Help
While it’s not uncommon for teens to have some trouble managing their anger, in some cases, professional help is needed. If your child’s angry behavior is getting him in trouble at school or in trouble with the law, it’s time to see a professional counselor. If you think you might be in danger, if you’re afraid your teen might hurt you or other family members during an angry outburst, seek professional help or call 911 for immediate assistance.
HelpGuide.org. Anger Management.
Dr. Phil. How to Fight Fair.
Teens Health. Going to a Therapist.
Also by this Contributor:
Communication Tips for Teens: How to Fight Fairly How to Help Your Suicidal Teen How to Identify Eating Disorders in Your Teen