It’s quite common for parents to experience shifts in temperament with their teens. One moment they may feel on top of the world and in a good mood, but then a simple question can throw your teen into an “attitude” or cause them to lash out in anger.
Anger is a normal emotion. We all feel angry from time to time, and teens are certainly no exception. Teens are going through many changes that can cause them to become angry and to express their emotions immediately rather than sit back and reflect in the moment.
This is due to the fact that teens are going through a time when they are separating from their parents in preparation for going out into the world as autonomous, independent adults. Due to this impending shift, it can cause teens to use anger and attitudes as a means of separating from their parents when necessary. This is due to their still-developing prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain that continues to develop until we are around 25–26 years of age.
Since the teen brain is still developing, teens may be more impulsive or can act unreasonably, especially when experiencing emotional or psychological distress. These factors, paired with changing hormones, are a recipe for a young adult who is prone to exhibiting spurts of anger from time to time. However, when the anger overtakes a teen and it is expressed behaviorally with aggression, this could be a sign of a more serious issue.
What Is an Angry Teen vs. a Teenager Who Is Angry?
As mentioned, anger is a normal emotion that we all feel from time to time. However, when anger is expressed behaviorally as aggression, problems can arise.
Since teens are going through a variety of changes and may feel fear, uncertainty, apprehension, and even anxiety about the future, it’s natural for them to experience shifts in temperament and behavior. We typically associate this with teen angst, and sometimes anger is thrown into the same category. Anger, however, is more about what has happened to your teen or what your teen feels should or shouldn’t have happened to them rather than about angst or apprehension for the future.
A teenager who is angry will show expressions of anger from time to time, and their reactions may not always seem appropriate for the situation since teens are still growing, learning, and developing and dealing with raging hormones.
It’s also common for teens to develop thinking errors from distorted thoughts. These are ideas in their heads that are overgeneralized and do not match reality. They tend to be negative in nature, self-defeating, and exist from a victimized standpoint.
While it is normal for teens to engage in this type of behavior, there are various forms of therapy such as DBT and CBT that can help challenge these distorted thoughts so teens can bring themselves back to reality in the moment.
An angry teen—who acts beyond a teenager with anger—will exhibit expressions of anger frequently and may seem constantly mad or upset at the world rather than directing the anger onto one specific person or thing. This persistent anger can have a big impact on the family unit.
If your teen is experiencing issues socially, academically, or beyond that can be directly related to anger outbursts or aggressive behavior, you just may have an angry teen on your hands.
Should you become concerned that your teen’s anger has become an issue that appears to be growing or failing to improve, it may be time to seek some help. At Idaho Youth Ranch, we specialize in working with at-risk youth to help them find joy, peace, self-control, and clarity in life as they move forward into happy, healthy adults. Give us a call today if you’re concerned about your teen’s anger.
Why Is My Teenage Son so Angry?
There are a variety of reasons why your son may be angry. Perhaps he is going through something emotionally challenging or struggling psychologically. He may also be adjusting to the rising levels of testosterone in his body, which are causing him to go through puberty.
Other sources for anger in teens may surround their need for autonomy. If teens do not feel that they are given any autonomy or decision-making freedoms, they can act out in anger; they may also do the same when they feel misunderstood.
Anxiety can also influence the level of anger that teens experience. For example, those with higher levels of anxiety or anxiety disorders may be more prone to experiencing anger. Anger may also be a sign of a having experienced trauma, or it could be symptomatic of a mental health issue such as bipolar disorder, depression, conduct disorder, or even substance abuse.
The way anger is expressed can determine whether it is problematic for your son. If he is able to control his temper and express his anger by putting it into a healthy outlet, this is good. Unfortunately, teens do not have all of the tools that adults do and may need some encouragement when it comes to managing their emotions in a healthy way. Increasing the emotional intelligence in your teen is a great way to help him adjust to the changes that are going on throughout the teen years.
In order to increase the emotional intelligence in your teen, it’s important to encourage him to express what he is feeling and going through. Men are often socialized to suppress their emotions and hold back, as emotional expression can sometimes be seen as a sign of weakness. However, this is not healthy. It’s healthy to identify and express emotions in a way that doesn’t encourage your teen to engage in aggression toward others or himself.
When emotions are bottled up, they can explode or leak out in strange and unusual ways. Encourage your son to express himself and to not hold back out of fear of appearing weak. This will help to increase his emotional intelligence. If your teen begins expressing himself with rage or aggression, it may be a sign that help is warranted.
If your teen is struggling with controlling his temper or expressing his emotions, it may help for him to have someone to talk to, such as a licensed therapist. Our team of professionals at Idaho Youth Ranch are here to help your teen son understand his anger and learn to control it in a healthy way.
Do you know a child or teen struggling with anger?
Idaho Youth Ranch is here to help.
What Made My Teenage Daughter so Angry?
There are many reasons why your daughter may be angry. She is going through a great many changes emotionally, psychologically, and physically. The hormonal changes alone that surround puberty, and especially her menstrual cycle, can certainly come into play, as can her need for autonomy and making decisions about her own life.
Teens commonly feel misunderstood by adults and think their parents simply do not understand them. This is because they want to do things that may not be well thought through, as the frontal lobes of their brains are still developing. This can cause friction between parents and teens, especially when it causes teens to feel controlled or like they do not have a sense of autonomy or freedom.
The anger your teen is expressing may also be a sign that something has happened to her. Perhaps she has experienced an injustice, something socially discouraging, or something traumatic. When trauma is experienced, teens tend to react in one of two ways: by either internalizing the pain, which can be exhibited via symptoms of depression, anxiety, or self-harm; or by externalizing the pain, which can present with anger, aggression, or harm to another individual.
The way your daughter expresses her anger is more of a determinant as to whether or not her anger is problematic. Since teens are still learning, they may not express their anger as maturely as adults right away, and so some encouragement regarding how to manage emotions and express them in healthy ways may be needed.
If your daughter is struggling with her anger and it is impacting her life or the family unit, it may be time to seek some support. Our dedicated team of professionals at Idaho Youth Ranch are here to help your daughter understand her emotions, channel and express them in healthy ways, and learn to adjust into adulthood as a happy, healthy individual. Give us a call today to discuss our treatment options.
What Are the Dangers of Teens Who Struggle to Control Their Moods/Anger?
Teenagers who struggle to control their moods and anger may continue to have issues with their temper and emotions later on, in their adult years, if they are not given any help or support. It’s imperative for teens to learn to manage their emotions and express their anger in healthy ways when they are young so they can develop healthy coping skills that they’ll use as adults. When they engage in unhealthy coping skills and refrain from learning to express their anger constructively or manage their emotions in a healthy way, it can lead to greater issues later on in life and make getting help or changing their behavioral patterns as adults even more difficult.
Such issues associated with anger control problems that are left unchecked include issues with the law, difficulties holding consistent employment or dealing with authority figures, and difficulties in one’s own social life.
As previously mentioned, anger may also be a sign of a mental health issue, so it’s imperative that teens who are exhibiting signs of problematic anger receive the help and intervention they need. Bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and substance abuse may all show symptoms of anger control issues, or persistent anger.
If left unchecked, this can lead to greater mental health issues later down the line. It can also cause teens to engage in risky or unsafe behaviors, such as drug use or abuse, risky sexual behavior, internet addiction, exercising too much, etc.
Having issues with anger or temper control can also make it difficult for your teen to establish healthy relationships with others, both as a teen and as an adult, and can lead to a dysfunctional home life or an abusive relationship depending on the severity of the anger, its cause, and whether your teen receives the help and intervention he or she needs.
If you are concerned about your teen’s anger, it’s important to seek help right away. Our skilled professionals at Idaho Youth Ranch specialize in working with teens to help them manage their emotions and cope in healthy ways so they may lead fulfilling, successful lives as adults.
What to Do With an Angry Teen? How Parents Can Help.
Should your teen be experiencing any of the warning signs above, it’s important to seek help from an experienced professional who has success working with at-risk youth.
As parents, there are also some things you can do to help prevent situations from escalating and to try to keep the energy in your home as calm as possible.
Avoid trying to control your teen.
Trying to control your teen can result in even more anger or aggression. Your teen needs to feel autonomous and like a unique, separate individual. Even though teens still need safe boundaries, guidance, and consistency in enforcing rules from adults, having their own say in some of the decisions that relate to their life can go a long way. Rather than treating your teen like a young child, it’s important to treat him/her like a young adult.
Talk to your teen in a businesslike manner.
Do not yell at your teen or express a lot of “attitude” in dealing with him or her, as it may only escalate the situation at hand and encourage more attitude from their end. Talk to your teen as you would a business connection: without emotion, even-keeled, consistent, and matter-of-fact. This is especially important when it comes to setting and enforcing rules and boundaries. If you speak to your teen like an adult, they are going to be more likely to respond maturely. When teens are spoken to like children, they are more likely to feel disrespected and lash out with aggression in an attempt to establish more independence.
Show respect for your teen’s privacy.
Privacy is important to teenagers, and while you want to ensure your teen is staying safe and not engaging in anything dangerous, it’s important to show your teen the same respect for their privacy you would another adult. Invading a teen’s privacy can lead to mistrust and a tendency for them to conceal information in the future.
Listen and acknowledge your teen’s emotions.
When a teen is experiencing high emotions and feels misunderstood, it’s important to listen. Try to understand what your teen is going through and acknowledge those emotions. Do not ignore them or make your teen feel unvalidated for what they’re feeling. Having emotions is normal and we all experience them; however, it’s the way the emotions are expressed that is important. Failing to acknowledge your teen’s emotions can add fuel to their fire of feeling misunderstood and powerless.
Offer your teen healthy options.
When your teen is feeling angry, it’s important for them to learn healthy ways of coping with their feelings. Offer your teen some healthy options, such as:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Guided meditation
- Yoga or exercise
- Sports or physical activities
- Adult coloring books
- Music or art
- Controlled activities such as throwing axes, breaking plates, boxing, etc.
Model healthy habits for your teen.
If you would like your teen to develop healthy methods of managing and expressing their emotions, it’s important to model what that looks like. No person is perfect, and there will be times when we cannot model ideal behavior for our teens at all times, but the best examples of what it looks like to be a healthy, well-adjusted adult will go a long way with developing youth. If you feel like you need some help with your own emotional regulation and expression, some individual, group, or family therapy sessions can certainly assist you in this.
Refrain from speaking angrily to your teen and know when to step away.
When your teen is angry, it’s important to stay professional and businesslike. Part of this includes refraining from snapping or yelling, as this will only escalate the situation. Instead, set healthy limits and boundaries, speak professionally, and know when to step away and take a time out should you feel that things are becoming too heated. These are healthy habits to model for your teen that will help prevent situations from growing out of control while lessening conflict in the home.
Set limits and boundaries for anger for your teen.
When your teen is angry, set limits surrounding what is and is not an acceptable expression of that anger. These rules can include not throwing objects, not breaking objects, not swearing or verbally abusing another person, etc. Once these limits are set, be consistent in holding your teen accountable, and have consequences in place for if your teen fails to abide by those limits. Have them replace any items they break and apologize to those they hurt with their words or actions. Do this all in a very businesslike manner.
Refrain from micromanaging or criticizing your teen.
While teens do need managing, and a bit of constructive criticism can do a great deal of good, it’s important to refrain from being overly critical of your teen. They are in a delicate stage of development, and consistent criticism can have a negative impact on that development. It is also important to choose your battles and refrain from micromanaging. Having a teen who is angry and acting out may naturally cause you to want to tighten the reigns and watch their every move, but this can cause them to act out even more as their need for autonomy will grow even stronger. Allow them opportunities to make their own choices when possible and enforce the consequences of any rules they do not follow. No teen is perfect, and it is unrealistic to expect them to be obedient 100% of the time. However, consistency with consequences when they mess up is an important learning tool.
Spend quality time together and show a genuine interest in your teen’s life.
Even though it may not feel like this, your teen really values your time and interest in their life. Spending quality time with your teen is important. Make some time to do some of your favorite things together, and check in with your teen, as some of the things you enjoyed doing together when they were younger have likely changed. This is to be expected. Ask your teen if there are some new things that they’d like to do together. Perhaps there’s a movie you could see together, a restaurant they’d like to try, an activity the two of you enjoy doing together, a place you’d both like to travel to on a vacation, etc. Showing interest in your teen and his or her interests, hobbies, and favorite things holds a lot of power, as it can deepen your connection and help your teen feel understood and accepted. You may not always see eye to eye, but showing an interest in getting to know your son or daughter better is one of the most powerful, healing things a parent can do for their teen.
How Idaho Youth Ranch Can Help Your Teen
At Idaho Youth Ranch, we specialize in working with at-risk youth to help them learn to manage their anger and emotions and express it in healthy ways. If the anger your teen is feels is a symptom of a more serious issue such as depression, bipolar disorder, trauma, or substance abuse, our team will work with your family to form a treatment plan specially designed for your teen. Early intervention for emotional and behavioral issues is imperative for your teen in order to learn how to manage anything that comes toward them in a healthy way, now and as an adult. It can also help combat the likelihood of developing a more serious mental health issue as an older teen or young adult.
We offer a variety of therapy options to help your teen, depending on their unique needs. Whether it’s inpatient or outpatient treatment, individual sessions, group sessions, family therapy, parenting skills development, or equine therapy that your teen and family need, we have you covered. Since an angry teen can impact a variety of aspects of the family unit and home life, we like to meet families where they are and help restore the unit when needed as well.
Do you feel like your teen could benefit from the help of a counselor or therapist? If so, we encourage you to reach out to us. We’re happy to put you in touch with any resources you need and set up an initial evaluation and treatment plan.
Anger is something that no teen should suffer with alone. Help your teen let go of their anger and move forward in life with peace and happiness.