As mentioned previously, while teenage defiance comes off as anger, some teens aren’t emotionally equipped to deal with anxiety, depression, conflict, or trauma in a healthy way. While many parents’ first instinct is to “control” or “manage” their teen’s anger issues, it is important to remember that you can not control someone else’s emotions or actions. What you can do to help with anger issues is set realistic expectations and consequences, and give your child the tools to more effectively cope with his or her negative emotions.
Establish Expectations, Rules, and Consequences
If you haven’t already, establish clear rules and consequences for breaking said rules. It is important to have this conversation when you and your teen are both calm, cool, and collected. This will ensure that you have a rational, non judgemental conversation with your son or daughter. Explain that anger is a valid emotional reaction that everyone experiences, and that you are more concerned about the negative, angry behaviors that they are displaying— not the emotion itself.
Help Get to the Root of the Problem
When your child has calmed down, talk to your them and try to find out what is really bothering them. Trying to have a rational conversation while your teen is still having an emotional outburst or fit of rage will be counter-productive, and may cause you to become frustrated as well. Ask questions: “Is something wrong at school or with friends?” Listen to his or her problems without judgement; just remember, they may become angry, or they may not tell you. It is still important to show that you do care.
Reduce Screen Time
Spending too much time on electronic devices (smart phones, video game consoles, tablets, etc.) can hinder your child’s sleep hygiene. Poor sleeping patterns can lead to irritability, and further vulnerability to angry outbursts. In addition, it is important to monitor your teens’ electroinic device habits, as exposure to violent tv shows, video games, and movies can increase the likelihood of violent behavior, anger issues, and outbursts as well.
Help Your Teen Find a Healthy Outlet or Way to Express Anger
A great way to help with anger issues in teens is by helping your son or daughter find an outlet for anger is a great way to provide a healthier coping mechanism for negative emotions. Everyone is different, so see what appeals to your child. Healthy outlets for anger issues can include:
- writing in a journal
- playing loud, angry music
Lead by Example
Make sure that you are using healthy coping mechanisms to deal with your anger. Children learn what they live. In addition, if your teen sees you become belligerent when you are angry, your teen may think that this is an appropriate emotional response. This is especially important to remember when your teen is having an outburst. As hard as it sounds, remaining calm during your child’s outbursts will help diffuse the situation.
While many parents want to control their child’s emotions, the best way to help with anger issues is to be loving, supportive, and sympathetic. While remaining calm in the face of teenage defiance and outbursts may be difficult, just remember that anger issues are likely a cry for help.