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Looking at the Root of Your Teen’s Anger

Does your teen spend his days quietly seething or engaging in shouting matches? It’s not uncommon for teens to struggle with anger. We were all created by God with a need for relationships, but our culture today is not designed to train teens how to interact with others appropriately. In this article, I’ll help parents discover the real reasons for teenaged anger and uncover the root cause of their frustration, so you can help your teen respond well to others.

Three Common Underlying Reasons for Teen’s Anger

Anger is an emotional response to not getting something you want––that’s true for adults and teens. But your teens need to learn how to respond well, even when they don’t get what they want. So, let’s look at some of the reasons your teen may get angry.

Firstly, many teens get frustrated when they feel like they have no control over their life. Naturally parents want to protect their kids.  But keeping tight control, in order to protect your teen all the time, will have a bad outcome. Teens want to make their own decisions and live their own lives. When there is a struggle between parent and teen for control, anger might surface. You’re going to need to learn how to stop controlling and start trusting your teen.

Secondly, some teens feel shamed or judged on social media, at school, with friends, and even at home. Constant correction can communicate to your teen that he doesn’t live up to your expectations. Your teens desperately want your approval. Simply dismissing your teen’s opinions or shaming him for his thoughts might cause your teen to shut down or lash out in anger. Instead, work to understand what’s really going on in your teen’s life.  Allow your teen to have his own opinions and engage him in discussion, not endless lectures.

Thirdly, your teen might just put up a fight simply because her desires are frustrated. This can happen over big things or small things. Whether or not you agree with what they want, look at your teen like Jesus looked at the crowds—with compassion. Find out what they want and work to meet the deeper longing behind their immediate desire, as long as it is possible and healthy.

How can we find out what is behind our teen’s anger?         

Firstly, to find out what’s really behind your teen’s anger, you need to pay attention when your teen gets angry and observe the circumstances. Become a student of your teen––what trigger’s his negative responses? Then, before you get sucked into the angry conflict, step back and observe what’s really happening.

Secondly, your teen might know what makes them angry and be ready to explain it, but most teens won’t know how to clearly articulate what they are feeling yet. It’s your job to help them understand their own motivations by asking questions and guiding them into deeper conversations.

Thirdly, listen to your child’s heart without trying to defend yourself. They may lash out and throw you under the bus, or blame you for their anger, but you need to listen and discover what’s really bothering your teen.

What are some ways to approach an angry teen?

It’s not easy to approach an angry teenager. But with a calm spirit, trying not to escalate the situation with your own anger, you can be a good example to help your teen learn how to handle their frustration and deal well with others. Remember the wisdom of Proverb 15:1, that says, “A soft word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Respond with gentle words and remind him often of your love.


Hey moms and dads … helping your teens deal with anger can be one of the greatest resources you can build into their life. You can be the greatest example of temper management, or the worst model of explosive anger. Either will be mimicked by your teen. So be careful how you respond when things don’t go your way because you’re being watched. Their anger is a light on the dashboard that flashes a warning that they are not getting what they desire in life or from relationships. It’s your opportunity, as a parent, to determine what is fueling the anger and get to the heart of the issue, by asking questions that go beneath behavior, which is the visible expression of the invisible issues in their life. It’s okay to have anger, as long as it doesn’t control your teen, disappoint them about life, or cause them to act inappropriately in relationships.  

Author: Mark Gregston

Mark Gregston began working with teens more than 40 years ago as a youth minister and Young Life director. He has authored nearly two dozen books, has written hundreds of articles, and is host of the nationally-acclaimed Parenting Today’s Teens podcast and radio broadcast.