Is there an active volcano in your home? Are you apprehensive around your teen, knowing that any disruption or irritation will cause your teen to erupt in anger? We all experience anger, but as parents we need to help teens deal with their anger appropriately. In this article, I’ll explain how to handle the anger that boils up in your teen.
See Their Anger For What It Is
Your teen’s sudden flash of fury may catch you off guard, but it isn’t random. There’s a reason for your teen’s anger. But if you don’t know what it is, you won’t know how to help your teen calm down. Too often parents respond to a child’s anger without doing some detective work first. For example, if your teen is angry and explosive because he’s on drugs, you will respond one way; however, if he’s angry because he can’t be with his friends beyond curfew, you’ll respond another way. One way or another, when teens don’t get what they want, it sparks anger. Parents can help their teens by getting to the source of their frustration. The key is to deal with the heart of the issue, rather than just reacting to their behavior. If your teen’s anger stems from substance abuse, get help quickly. Make sure your teen isn’t a threat to himself or others.
Be the “Defuser” … Not the “Igniter”
Have you noticed that most of the time when someone sees a teen get angry, they get angry too? That’s like pouring gasoline on a fire! Parents need to stay calm, especially when teens get out of control. Don’t choose the moment of anger and conflict to correct your teen. Do it later when he can listen. If you’re getting heated, you need to take a break. The best thing in the moment, is to help your teen release anger by letting him talk. Your teen wants to be heard and understood. So stay calm and listen. Once they’ve talked it through, they often recognize that their anger is senseless, without you having to say much. Acknowledge your teen’s feelings without trying to change them right away. The Bible says, “a gentle answer turns away wrath.” The time for sharing your wisdom and correction will come when everyone calms down.
Coach Your Teen in Ways to Calm Down
No one wants to lose control, but your teen may not yet have the words or the tools to react in another way. Teenaged emotions bubble up to the surface as anger and they may not have the words to express what they’re feeling. Parents have more life experience and can help teens release anger before it explodes. You might need to listen carefully to understand what’s stirring up your teen––whether it is sadness, loss, depression, fatigue, or something else.
The best thing you can do is set a good example. If your teen sees you getting angry when you don’t get what you want, they’ll react the same way. Instead, model how to calm down. Recognize the source of your own frustration, talk about it calmly, and display self-control when you don’t get what you want.
If Your Teen’s Anger Stems From Loss
Parents can easily overlook or minimize teenaged loss. But loss can be a significant factor in your teen’s life. Rejection from friends, missing out activities, the loss of a pet, or the end of a relationship can cause substantial pain for your teen. Their loss is very real to them, even if it seems insignificant to you. And your teen’s grief may look different from the way you might express these feelings. You need to allow for personality differences. Dealing with loss won’t have a quick “fix,” so be patient, have sympathy for what they are feeling, and trust God to care for your teen.
Sometimes parents are the source of their teen’s anger. If your teen’s anger stems from tension in relationship with you, then you’ll need to ask your teen some hard questions and not get defensive. You may even need to ask for forgiveness. No one wants to hear criticism, but you do want to hear your teen’s thoughts and understand why he’s angry. Encourage you teen to come speak to you when he’s angry and try to understand his heart. Always be willing to listen and consider making changes to create a home that’s peaceful.
Hey moms and dads … anger is a normal response to any disappointment, hurt, or missed expectation. If there’s ever a time in one’s life when they experience this, it’s during the teen years. So anger will come. It will be important for you to help your teen keep from getting angry by having them set reasonable expectations, by stopping their entitlement hopes, and by helping them understand that they won’t always get what they want. Selfishness plays a big part in anger. Helping your teen become selfless is key to avoiding unreal expectations and too high of standards that can never be met, thus creating the potential for danger. Your example of how you handle anger and the depth of your relationship with your teen are key ingredients in helping them control their anger and not hurt people in the process.