Helping Your Angry Teen
Many teens have trouble managing their emotions, and they may express intense anger toward themselves or others. Although everyone becomes angry at times, the frequency and severity of anger can be difficult to handle in some teens. Here are some strategies to try:
- Normalize Anger Create an environment in which your teen is free to express feelings appropriately. Anger is a normal and often healthy response to situations, but it needs to be expressed in a way that is safe and respectful toward others.
- Identify Triggers Anger may be triggered by stress, bullying, academic pressure, family conflict and so forth. Anger is often a symptom of strong underlying emotions, such as anxiety, depression or trauma. Treating the underlying cause can be more effective than treating anger as a symptom in isolation.
- Recognize Physiological Signs Recognize physiological signs of anger, including increased heart rate, sweating, clenched fists and red face. These signs suggest that anger is getting out of control, and some calming strategies are likely needed.
- Take a Break Even a short break can often lower the intensity of anger. Breaks might include using the restroom, going for a walk, listening to music, exercising, journaling and so forth.
- Set Limits Parents need to set clear limits on behaviors related to anger, including aggression and bullying. Be firm and consistent on the actions you will not tolerate, and help your teen find appropriate ways to express their anger.
- Be Available When teens feel isolated, alone or unimportant, anger can increase. The resulting anger can be turned inward as depression or outward as aggression. Just being available to listen and reconnect with your teen is a simple way you can help your teen cope with their hurtful feelings. Listen to their perspective without judging or giving unsolicited advice. Just being there can help your teen feel validated and understood.
- Demonstrate Empathy Empathize with the challenging tasks your teen faces. They may feel pressured to work harder in school, get into college, hold down a part-time job and maintain social connections.
- Encourage Healthy Lifestyle Habits Let your teen see you making healthy choices to exercise, eat well, and practice stress management techniques on a daily basis. Observing how you balance your work schedule, daily activities, and relaxation time is one of the best ways for your teen to learn how to effectively cope with life stressors.