Your teen’s brain is undergoing some pretty big changes. While the brain is developing rapidly during the teen years, the prefrontal cortex does not finish developing until adulthood. This is significant because the prefrontal cortex is the decision-making part of the brain. It is also significant because teens are more impulsive and emotional. They will act or react before thinking about consequences and their moods will change on a dime. This can easily translate to anger.
It is also during the teen years that kids begin to exert their independence. They naturally withdraw more in their mission to become their own people. It is also natural for parents to try to maintain control over things like the household, school work and social lives. Conflict is inevitable.
While conflict may be unavoidable, it does not mean it should always devolve into shouting and other manifestations of anger. Hearing “no” from you can understandably be frustrating to your teen. Having a phone taken away can understandably elicit the emotion of anger. What is not ok is teen verbal or physical aggression.
Anger Management for Teens Starts with You
Having a teen with anger issues is daunting. Here are eight tips that can help you manage your teen:
- Take a deep breath – You may not be able to control how your teen reacts, but you can control how you react. Snapping at your teen and raising your voice is just going to escalate the conflict and make the situation worse. Take a deep breath, relax your body and lower your voice when you reply. It could significantly lower the temperature of the conflict.
- Listen, Acknowledge, Validate – Patiently listening to and acknowledging their feelings can help take the edge off a situation. Validating their feelings can show you understand what they are going through. It also can make them more receptive to listening to what you have to say.
- Show respect – It may be tough to acknowledge your baby is growing up but treating them like a young adult will help them. Speak to them as you might with other adults. Let them make decisions about things like activities and school schedules. Treating them with respect will go a long way to making sure they do the same with you.
- Avoid criticism – Your teen likely feels insecure. Criticizing every homework assignment, sports game and chore is a recipe to alienate your child and make them feel even more insecure.
- Spend time with them – This may sound counterintuitive when you are both annoying each other to no end but spending more time together can be beneficial. Go for a walk with the dog, play a board game or go get a slice of pizza. You don’t need an agenda other than to enjoy each other’s company—in fact, it’s great for them to see you without your parent hat on.
- Check in regularly – In our busy, hectic lives, it’s easy to let too much time pass to talk about family matters. Talk about upcoming schedules for school, work, sports, travel, etc. Talk about how things are going with friends or teachers. Talk about how you are doing. Your teen may be resistant to opening up, but they are listening.
- Model Healthy behavior – Telling your teen to behave a certain way is meaningless if you don’t do it yourself.
- Create creative and physical outlets – Chances are your teen doesn’t get enough exercise, especially if they are not involved in organized sports. Exercise can be as effective as drugs in improving mental health. And creative pursuits like playing an instrument or drawing can help reduce anxiety, improve focus and offer a change of perspective.
10 Signs Teenage Anger Needs to Be Addressed
Anger is a perfectly normal reaction to a number of situations. But it is how our kids deal with this anger that is important. If you are seeing regular signs of the following, it may be time to intervene:
- Physical or verbal aggression
- Excessive arguing
- Irrational thoughts and behavior
- Substance abuse
- Cutting off communication with peers and family
- Cruelty to others and/or animals
- Criminal behavior
- Destroying property
Shepherd’s Hill Can Help
Shepherd’s Hill Academy is a residential therapeutic boarding school that is trained to deal with a variety of teenage issues, including excessive anger. Individual attention, mentoring and goal setting can help get your teen back on track. Through our nature-based therapeutic component, teens are removed from their comfort zone, as well as peer pressure and technology. If you are wondering if Shepherd’s Hill Academy can help your family, take our quiz and learn more about the programs we offer.