I am commonly asked questions like “Why is my teenager always angry with me?” Parents DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY! Teenagers are generally not angry with you they are just plain angry. This anger can vary from resentment right through to actual rage. What you are seeing is not the anger itself but a behavior.
The emotion is the anger, but what we see is the reaction to the anger that is the behavior.
Some Teens withdraw and repress their anger whilst others may become violent and destroy property or physically aggressive to other people.
You, the adult need to understand that teenage anger is an emotion not a behavior. So, the teen doesn’t have to act out their behaviors in the way they do. The anger is frequently triggered by something going on in their life and this may be as simple as being unable to do a math problem. They may get up and walk along the corridor and punch the wall or kick a trash can, but they are NOT ANGRY WITH YOU.
This anger is usually with themselves and some perceived inadequacy. They are fearful and in this case it is the fear of failure. Your teen is on an emotional roller coaster dealing with issues of identity, relationships, the future, and all their hormones are going crazy at the same time. Understand this and you are able to accept that when your teen is angry it is generally not aimed at you.
Regularly your teen is frustrated and angry with themselves. It’s really important that you the parent, don’t react to the teen with your own anger – because this just sets up a pattern of reactive behavior from parent to teen, going back and forth and ultimately achieving nothing positive.
This is the time that people say things that they don’t mean and the situation gets out of control. In this situation it is essential to remember you are the adult, so stop reacting. You need to focus on what your teen is feeling, and this is a way of defusing their anger.
At this time your teen needs some acknowledgement of their feelings. So what I want you to do when this occurs is respond starting with the word “you”. It is very easy for us to fall into the pattern of “I can’t stand it when you.. ” , “I told you to…”. These are both statements in which you are responding with anger, so i want you to focus on them and their needs and commence with “you”. For example, “you sound really frustrated”, “you seem really distressed” or “you seem really angry today”. We all know how much better we feel when someone else acknowledges our feelings. “You’re really sad today”. After you have acknowledged their feelings it is important that you let go of the situation and at another time when the teen is not highly emotive address the issues.
For example; ask them if they had any warning signs that they were getting angry and could soon lose self control. Often before a teen (or adult for that matter) loses control and the anger escalated into something quite ferocious, they usually find that they are clenching their fists, shaking their legs, tapping their foot or possibly they develop sweaty palms. of course each person has a different sign. If your teen acknowledges for instance that they get sweaty palms just prior to an angry outburst you can assist them in finding a less destructive activity to do when their palms sweat.
Relieving the pent up emotion for example with a run around the block, a swim, a shower, reciting a poem etc. They can now identify when their anger is escalating from the emotion into an unacceptable behavior.
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