How can parents help teenagers cope with anger?
How can parents help teenagers cope with anger?
The topic we are dealing with here today is quite a complex one, as both the teenage phase is quite turbulent and the emotion that we are discussing is also quite intense.
At Sherwood High, we believe that while growing children deal with issues that require help, there are several steps we, as parents and caretakers, can take to help children manage their teenage years more effectively. It is only with proper support from both in and outside the home that teenage children can learn to handle and manage their feelings in order to find success and happiness in their lives.
Today’s blog is to be a resource for parents, teachers, guardians, and caregivers of teenage children struggling with their teenage emotions of anger, defiance, and disrespect. We’ll be looking at how we can really understand from our child’s perspective and how we can help them manage their emotions.
The Teenage Phase:
The teenage years are quite complicated in growing children’s lives, as they are trying to figure out how they fit into the world. It is common for teens to desire more and more freedom while trying to push boundaries. All of us experience various emotions in our day-to-day life, similarly, teenage children also experience complex emotions, but they do not have the required skill set to deal and cope with those emotions.
While the teenage phase can be a tumultuous period for children, it can also be a challenging time for parents. Some children become moody, unpredictable, notoriously reckless, and difficult to manage because of defiance and anger. It is important for parents to understand that there are rigorous changes happening both mentally and physically in their children’s lives during these teen years. They are already going through a lot of bodily changes, dealing with hormone changes, issues of communicating their feelings, having low self-esteem, and what not. Therefore, it is only with the right support, help, and encouragement that children can deal with these teenage emotions and changes effectively.
Anger as an emotion:
Anger is one of the many normal, healthy emotions we all feel from time to time, and knowing how to cope with anger and express it in a socially appropriate manner is an important skill for teenagers to learn. While anger can be something that adults can work around with, teenagers, however, find it rather difficult to control their anger due to hormonal changes and inability to communicate their feelings effectively.
Most teens get into trouble because of their inability to appropriately discharge feelings of intense anger. What happens here is that children can probably find themselves angry for multiple reasons and their expression of these feelings can also be in a multitude of ways, but underlying all these in common is the struggle of experiencing hurtful emotions but not knowing how to manage them. This leads to inappropriate expressions of anger, which can have serious consequences in their teenage years.
When teenagers cannot manage their anger when they don’t get their way, they are bound to have serious issues. Because when teenagers don’t know how to cope with anger, they may feel a strong desire to act differently on these emotions, irrespective of the risk it poses for themselves and for others.
For example, some children may yell or lash out, while others can become physically aggressive or even bottle up their feelings, leading to depression and anxiety later on. If we do not teach children how to manage their anger, they’ll face difficulty in forming friendships, maintaining any relationship, in schools, colleges, and careers, et cetera.
Hence, managing anger is essential, as anger management endures one’s personality and aids in pursuing goals with stability.
1. Identifying the Problem:
The first step in anger management is to start noticing what makes your child angry and why. There are plenty of factors that can contribute to anger issues and defiance in teenage children. While the amount of maturity, capacity and emotional regulation skill sets of every teen is different, some children might simply need more help in learning to manage their emotions and coping with anger. It is important to understand and try to identify that what your child is going through is not a symptom of any underlying mental health issue, as intense anger can be an expression caused by any trauma, stress, or pressure.
You can ask your children to put into words what is making them upset. Simple questions like, why are you angry? Why are you feeling this way and why? can help them formulate their feelings better. To lighten up the topic, children do not need to have a very serious reason to be angry. As parents, you probably have heard the term ‘hangry’ which is used to describe the irritable feeling people get when they are very hungry.
So anger does not really need to be directed towards a specific situation or a person. Your child being tired, sad, anxious, or afraid can also contribute to feelings like anger despite them being individual emotions. Apart from asking your child what they’re feeling and why you can even ask things like; have they had their food? Are they hungry? Did they get a good night’s sleep? Or if they are worried about an upcoming exam, if they had a quarrel with their friend or sibling if they did not perform as well as they expected in their game or sport, and so on. These questions can help you identify if they are actually filled with rage or are just irritated or sad because anger can range from mild annoyance all the way up to shaking fury.
You can also help your children the same way by asking these questions to themselves to figure out what makes them angry. The better your child can make the connection between what causes angry outbursts the more control they will have in expressing those emotions and adjusting to those situations.
2. Tips to Help your Teen control their anger:
The challenge in helping angry young teenagers is in keeping them safe while also teaching them ways to recognize anger and deal with it more constructively. Parents and caregivers can do a lot to help an angry teen learn ways to cope with anger successfully.
- Safe Expression of Anger:
While bottling up feelings can be detrimental to your child’s mental health, you can find ways in which your children can be taught to deal with their feelings without hurting others or themselves. You can find safe ways to help your children get their anger out. So activities like hitting a punching bag or hitting a pillow can help them get the negative emotion out of their body and their focus.
The impulse to do something physically when feeling angry is a strong trigger in many teenage children, so by regularly involving your children in sports or other exercises can help in expressing anger or controlling and regulating it.
There are also creative ways of expressing angry feelings such as drawing, painting, writing, graffiti, dance, music such as hard cord, can be used effectively by teenagers to express and understand the anger.
Music is not only helpful in expressing angry feelings but also a great tool to learn relaxation. When children are feeling frustrated or angry, ask them to look for music that will help them feel better. Music does not really have to be relaxing classical music, but it could also be country music or anything that they like because by experimenting they can understand what kind of music helps them feel better while they are feeling annoyed or irritated.
- Relaxation Techniques:
Teach your children to find ways to relax physically when anger makes them clench their fists, or tighten their muscles or grind their teeth because when they relax their bodies, they will be more in control of their emotions.
There are many relaxation techniques that you can help your children follow, such as meditation, deep breathing, exercise, yoga, guided imagination, focused breathing, Progressive muscle relaxation, and so on.
- Role Modeling:
Well, this is something that we speak about in most of our blogs, but we just cannot stress the importance of positive role-modeling enough.
Teaching your children to handle anger is more effective when you do it with your behavior rather than your words. When you are angry, make sure not to yell and shout, or break things and try to role model appropriate ways of dealing with angry feelings.
Teach your children by showing how to talk about angry feelings and how to express such feelings appropriately. For example, you can say, “I am furious that you didn’t finish your homework as you are supposed to, so I’m going to take a few minutes to think this through, and then we are going to talk about the consequences of your actions.”
Despite your strongest efforts, if your children seem to be uncontrollably angry or troubled, remember that uncontrolled rage can be sometimes associated with mental health disorders in teenagers. So make sure to never think twice before seeking professional help if you sense there is a problem.
We would like to conclude by saying that it is essential for parents to do the best they can to support and love their children while still understanding that they cannot control their children’s emotions and actions. The best thing that we as parents and caregivers can do is to provide our teenage children with consistent support within the home and outside while also being patient and accepting.