“You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.” – Buddha
Anger is a normal emotion and we all feel it sometimes. However, the way we express it is what can be problematic. Most teenagers occasionally grow angry and rebellious and express these emotions in various fashions. When you as a parent have an angry teen on your hands, you may feel frustrated and confused. You might be close to anger yourself. You may sometimes be afraid of your teen’s anger, and may even be afraid of your teen. It is important to keep in mind that teens can learn anything an adult can about coping with anger. Learning to manage anger is an important part of growing up, and you are in the best position to help your teen manage it!
Anger and feelings of disapproval can build up, and then are released through different methods. We can better understand this situation by imagining an “anger” balloon. Each time something happens that we do not like, air is forced into the balloon and it starts to expand. Eventually, air has to be let out of the balloon. How anger is expressed is different for different people. Some people let anger build up until their balloon pops, and when this happens there may be an explosive outburst of anger over something big or just a minor annoyance. After this display of anger, there is usually a period of control until the balloon blows up again. Some individuals release air through passive-aggressive maneuvers, displacement, or physical complaints. Others release air from the balloon every time it starts to fill by appropriately expressing their feelings at the time they occur.
You can help reduce your teen’s accumulation of anger by dealing appropriately with aggressive and rebellious behaviors when they occur. Here are some techniques that can help:
- Encourage appropriate communication. The most effective way to deal with a teen’s anger is to encourage them to constructively express their feelings and opinions. Acknowledge your teen’s anger and let them know that it is okay for them to be angry with you, but they need to express it without yelling or being disrespectful. For example, “I get that you’re angry, but screaming at me isn’t going to get me to let you play your video games before your homework is done.”
- Avoid excessive negative attention. Remember to pay more attention to what your teen is doing right than what they are doing wrong.
- Try not to react to passive-aggressive behavior. Ignore your teen’s attempt to get a reaction from passive-aggressive behaviors.
- Avoid random discipline. Be clear with your teen about the rules, consequences, and rewards, and most importantly, be consistent.
- Don’t get into a power struggle. Avoid engaging in back and forth and be clear with your teen about what you expect.
- Look for ways to compromise. If possible, see if you and your teen can come up with a mutually agreed upon compromise.
- Act as a positive role model. Demonstrate appropriate ways to manage anger and conflict for your teens – remember, “monkey see, monkey do!” If you don’t want your teen to yell at you, don’t yell at them. If you don’t want your teen to curse, don’t curse. Stay calm and neutral and stick to the facts. Use a “business-like” tone and address your teen in the same professional manner a boss may address an employee with a performance issue.
- Avoid excessive restrictions. Set realistic expectations and age-appropriate restrictions for your teen.
- Don’t let the behavior get out of control. Intervene at the first signs of conflict and anger. Don’t wait until it becomes unmanageable.
Anger is a normal emotion, and learning to manage it is an important part of your teen’s journey to adulthood. By leveraging the tips above, you can help lead them to success in anger management!
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LOS GATOS TEEN THERAPY CAN HELP!
Would you like additional guidance in this area? Los Gatos Teen Therapy provides individual teen therapy, family therapy, group therapy, parent support counseling, and in-home teen and family coaching 7 days a week, including afternoons, evenings, and weekends. For more information, contact us at 408.389.3538.