How To Effectively Manage Your Teen’s Anger

Posted on March 12th, 2015

“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!


What strategies do find most helpful when intervening with an angry teen?

What angry behaviors can be most challenging to manage as a parent?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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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.

3 thoughts on “How To Effectively Manage Your Teen’s Anger

  1. Lindsay Smith

    Because we so often see anger expressed in negative or unhealthy ways, it can be easy to forget that anger is a normal emotion that can be expressed in healthy ways. I especially like the tip about avoiding excessive negative attention. It definitely takes intentionality to focus more on what our teens are doing right than on what they are doing wrong! But our teens, like most of us, tend to repeat behaviors they are praised for. The more we can focus on these positive behaviors, the more of these positive behaviors we will see!

  2. Carol Satterlee

    Mona, great article. I do come across parents who struggle with anger management issues with their teens. I think one of the biggest challenges is when parents differ themselves in how they want to manage their own anger and thus they model different behaviors. What advice do you have for parents when one “gets it” (that is your great suggestions above and tries implementing some of them) however is derailed by their spouse who doesn’t “get it”?

    There are times a good starting point is to check in with parents first about this. It is not about pointing fingers who is “right” and who is “wrong”. Rather it is about getting them on the same page and in agreement how they can best implement jointly the great suggestions you’ve explained above.

    1. Mona Tahsini, MFT

      Hi Carol, Thank you for raising this very important point. In order for parents to be effective in managing anger or any other challenging behaviors their teen is demonstrating they must figure out how to get on the same page. Each parent may have a different individual approach and style. However, in order to be effective they have to come together and identify what individualized approach their teen will respond to best and be consistent in their interactions with their teen.

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