Anger in Teens: Normal Behavior or a Cry for Help
Most parents can attest to the fact that some of the hardest years in a child’s life are their teenage years. During adolescence, it is very common for parents to witness changes in their behavior. It is during these years that your child is learning who they are as an individual, not to mention their efforts to try and fit in with their peers. The daily stresses and pressures of a teen today are far different from those of times past. While this may cause them to act out at times, as a parent, you must be aware of the signs that their behavioral issues have reached a point that require professional assistance.
Anger is a Common Emotion
We all get angry at times, and that anger causes us to act in certain ways that might be outside of our normal behavior. Teenagers often experience a great deal of anger on the daily basis. The frustration of trying to fit in and learning to identify themselves can be overwhelming at times. It is very common for parents to dismiss anger from their children as nothing more than, “typical teenage behavior”. While this may be the case at times, when anger is allowed to go on for some time without any resolve it can eventually cause a lot of issues for your child and your family.
Signs of an Anger Problem
Anger in teenagers can manifest in various forms. Some teens will only display signs of irritability and withdraw themselves from normal activities. However, some teens may express their anger in more violent ways including:
· Bullying their peers or younger siblings
· Getting into physical altercations frequently
· Destroy property
· Commit crimes (theft, vandalism)
· Torture animals
· Increased verbal abuse
· Challenging authority
Each teen will vary in their display of anger. However, if their behavior has gotten out of control to the point that it has disrupted the household, caused harm to your teen or others, affected their ability to perform in school, or seems to go on for prolonged periods of time, it is recommended that you reach out to an anger management counselor for help.
Consequences of Ignoring Anger Signs
To dismiss any of the above signs of anger in your teen could really be detrimental for everyone involved. Anger left untreated can result in a lot of problems down the road. According to Thorax, anger that is not controlled can have the same physical affects as someone who is dealing with chronic stress. Some of the results might include:
· Diminished immune system
· High blood pressure
· Chronic fatigue
· Increased heart rate (heart disease)
· Asthma related complications including difficulty breathing
· The use of substances such as drugs or alcohol to cope
Helping Your Teen Deal with Anger
Once you’ve recognized that your teen is dealing with uncontrollable anger it is time to act. Rather than resort to harsh punishments and disputes, it is best to consider various strategies that might work best. Some recommendations include:
- Find the source of their anger – yelling at your teen about their behavior without having a full understanding of their troubles is a big no no. During a time when everyone is in a clam state of mind, talk with your teen about their anger and see if you can’t figure out what’s wrong.
- Find better ways to relieve anger – Having an outlet is important when you’re bottled up with anger. Sometimes it can help if your teen has something to do that makes them feel good about themselves. Joining a sports team or participating in an extracurricular activity can be of help. Also, teaching them anger management techniques such as punching a pillow, counting backwards from ten, or hitting on a punching bag can also provide constructive relief. Giving them a place to retreat to when they feel angry is also a good idea.
- Establish Ground Rules – Though they will challenge it, teens need structure and guidelines in place. If you’ve never really established ground rules and consequences, it is time to consider it. Again, when you’re calm, talk with your teen about your concerns for their behavior. Make sure they know that you care about their feelings; however, make it clear that you will not tolerate certain behaviors in your home. Sometimes when they know consequences are involved, they are willing to stop their unruly behavior.
Seek Professional Help
If you’ve tried the above strategies for helping your teen deal with their anger with no such luck, then you’ll need to move on to different measures. Now it is time to reach out to a mental health professional. Many teens and their families have benefited from anger management counseling. A trained professional utilizes various approaches and strategies to help teens find the source of their anger and learn alternative ways to deal with it. Such therapy sessions can also be helpful for the immediate family as it can help them learn how to support the teen.
Parenting teenagers is certainly a challenge. They are constantly changing and learning to adjust to the world around them. While various emotions and behaviors are to be expected, if things have gotten out of control it is best to reach out to someone for help. The sooner you get your teen the help they need, the sooner they can learn to cope with life’s events as they occur.