Strategies for teenagers’ anger management
By Dylan Buckley
Medically reviewed by Lauren Fawley
In all forms of media, the stereotype of the angry teenager reigns supreme. Whether it is on your favorite movie, television show, or in your favorite novel, teenagers are depicted as moody, aggressive, and rebellious. Because this has become the expectation for teenagers, it is easy for parents to justify certain behaviors and to let them slip by without receiving any consequences for their actions.
While there is a certain amount of understanding that should be dedicated to teens who are going through puberty and other circumstances that come with growing up, you should never let a teen get away with being angry and taking it out on others. Like any individual, a teen needs to learn how to properly handle their emotions and how to deal with anger and parents need to make sure that teenagers are held accountable for their actions and are given the necessary tools and guidance to succeed.
If you’ve come to this article, it means that you are most likely dealing with an angry teen in your household and you need some assistance in helping them pacify their behavior and control their emotions so that everyone involved is healthy and happy. If this is your goal, here are some helpful strategies that will guide your teen along the process of dealing with anger.
Discover what it is that is fueling their anger
Teenagers may start to huff and puff at a moment’s notice and may not take the time to consider what has them angry in the first place and why they are feeling the way that they are in the moment. Helping them cultivate self-awareness is the first step in a successful anger management strategy for teenagers and sets up the foundation for taking the necessary actions to work through said anger. When they start to feel so angry that they start to act out, whether it be towards others or towards themselves, let them know that they need to ask themselves, what is making me so mad? Can I trace this anger to a specific moment and, if so, what is it? When you can identify what is making you angry, you are better able to remedy the situation.
Come up with several solutions to the problem
For some teens, managing anger can be an issue as their first instinct is to react in such a way that causes emotional or physical damage or goes against the authority of their parent figure. In order to combat this, a teenager needs to know that they could also choose to take a more responsible route. For example, rather than acting out, they could choose to sit down with you and talk about their emotions and why they feel the way that they do. Alternatively, if they do not like something that you have done or said, they could choose to pursue a solution that allows them to get their emotions out in a more healthy way so that they can move on from the situation without so much anger. Although it can feel as though things are set in stone to teenagers, they must learn that there are always several solutions to a problem.
Think before taking action
Anger is not an emotion that is typically accompanied by reason. Anger is impulsive and angry teens are often impulsive as well. They aren’t considering the consequences of their actions when they do something but the reality of their situation is that there are consequences for every action, both good and bad. Before your teenager decides on a solution to their problem, they need to think about the consequences of each of their chosen solutions and think about what will happen if they follow through with it. How will the solution end? Will everyone in the scenario be happy with the resolution? Is it in their best interest to choose that solution or will it only get them in trouble?
Having consequences for certain actions can be great incentive to keep a teen from acting out and, paired with the realization that each action has consequences, will make it easier for them to realize the gravity of the situation and to find the motivation to learn valuable anger coping skills. When they’ve had experience thinking before acting, they will gain more positive experience with making the right choices and managing their anger.
Find a creative or physical outlet for anger
We often attribute some of the best works of art to artists who put their raw emotions into the piece. Anger is one of these emotions that can make for truly evocative pieces and teenagers can use their raw emotions and channel them into something creative to better work through and process their anger. For example, a great anger management exercise for angry teens is to find an artistic way to express their anger such as writing it down in a journal or turning it into their own personal story, to use their anger to paint or to draw a piece, or to turn their anger into music by writing a song or doing something else associated with music such as dancing. There are plenty of ways to channel anger artistically and there is no end to what your teen could do in terms of self-expression.
If you have a teenager who isn’t very artistic but more physical, they could choose instead to express their anger either through team sports or through individual exercises. For example, running, hitting a punching bag, or engaging in other strenuous exercises are all great ways to release pent up aggression to make them feel better throughout the day.
Learn calming exercises to help with tension and anger
While it is important to express anger productively, it is also important to learn how to manage anger and to prevent it from becoming a problem. Many will try to pursue suppression as a way to keep their anger in check but emotions are meant to be acknowledged and expressed and it is important that teenagers are not encouraged to ignore feelings. Instead, let them know that it is okay to let their emotions out on their own until they calm down enough to go about their day without feeling the need to lash out at others.
Likewise, equip them with tools such as breathing exercises, meditation exercises, and other calming methods that will help them to work around their anger until they are able to think more clearly. You can also let them know that they can use their friends and other family members for mediation for anger so that they can vent without hurting anyone. There are plenty of ways that teens can release and extinguish their anger without taking it out on other people.
Find distractions that are enjoyable and relaxing
It’s truly hard to be angry about something when you are happy and enjoying yourself and this is a lesson that many teenagers can use to take a break from their anger and momentarily distract themselves. Whenever your teen feels angry or agitated about something, tell them to go take some time to do something that brings a smile to their face and relaxes them. After they’ve finished their exercise, they’ll most likely have forgotten about what angered them in the first place, indicating that it wasn’t truly a big deal to begin with. If anger is still on their mind, this may prove that whatever did anger them needs to be taken care and they can move forward from there.
Anger management is just about having tools to make the emotions more manageable and less overwhelming. Along with some of these strategies that you can use at home, there are also anger management groups out there that will give your teen the chance to connect with other peers having the same issue and you can also allow them to call an anger management hotline if they feel that they want to handle their issues on their own without speaking about it in front of others.
In some instances, however, anger may not be so easily manageable and teens may be dealing with a host of other issues that make it overwhelming to take care of their anger successfully. There may also be issues within your parent-child dynamic that are adding additional pressure to the anger management problems. For those with a teen who has severe anger issues that may need more help than you, the parent, are able to provide, it could be helpful to reach out to a counselor who is trained to take care of these issues. If you think that you and your child would be able to benefit from one-on-one therapy, the certified therapists here at BetterHelp are awaiting your word to start your first session today! **