Slammed doors and angry outbursts may be just typical behavior that goes along with the highly combustible teenage years. Teens are transitioning from being completely dependent on parents as children toward the autonomy found in adulthood. This is a developmental phase fraught with supercharged emotions, including acting out in anger.
But when does “typical” teenage moodiness and anger become deeply concerning?
When a teen begins to display increasingly aggressive, hostile, even violent behavior towards others there may be deeper emotional issues involved. These angry expressions may be symptoms of a mental health issue that should be addressed by the family physician first, and then possibly a psychotherapist. Adolescents who seem to be unequipped in managing their frustrations and anger may benefit from acquiring specific anger copings skills for teens, which can be taught through individual and family therapy sessions. These coping strategies may be all that are needed to help the teen learn to navigate their impulsive tendencies toward expressing frustration, and channel them in a socially appropriate manner.
What Are the Signs of Teen Anger?
The teen brain is still under construction, not fully developing the important executive functions until age 25. This region of the brain that regulates executive function can be underdeveloped in some teens, impacting how they manage judgment, emotions, decision-making, and self-control. Kids whose brains haven’t yet matured may lash out in anger when they feel slighted, disappointed, or frustrated, lacking any real coping skills. Some of the signs of an undeveloped teen brain’s executive functions include:
- Getting into heated arguments, both at school or at home with siblings
- Exhibits excessive emotional outbursts, rage
- May bully others
- Is difficult to reason with
- Engages in relationship or dating violence
- Makes verbal threats
- May be cruel to animals, younger siblings
- Excessive arguing, loud fighting
- Destroys property
- Exhibits symptoms of depression, self-harming behaviors
- Exhibits physical violence towards others
6 Anger Coping Skills For Teens
Parents should initially set very specific rules and boundaries regarding the expression of anger within the household, and expectations for how they conduct themselves at school and beyond. By setting anger rules and boundaries with consistent enforcement, the teen is made aware that hostile behavior is unacceptable. Parents can equip them with some anger coping skills for teens that will provide more positive ways to manage feelings of anger, such as:
- Teach conflict resolution skills. The words we use are powerful tools for diffusing feelings of anger towards someone. Teaching teens how to communicate their feelings about an issue that is upsetting them in a constructive way can allow for a calm discussion to ensue about resolving the issue.
- Have them keep a journal. Suggest the teen use a journal as a method of purging frustrations, emotional pain, and angry feelings, getting these negative emotions on paper often diminishes their power and frees up emotional space inside.
- Encourage physical activity. Teens should be encouraged to get out and get regular exercise, through team sports, recreational leagues, running, cycling, surfing, hiking, activities that reduce stress, elevate the mood, and enhance sleep quality.
- Teach problem-solving skills. Show the teen how to resolve a problem in a calm, controlled way by having the teen come up with some possible solutions for a problem. They may need extra help with an assignment or guidance for resolving a relationship issue, and brainstorming potential solutions makes them feel more in control.
- Show them relaxation techniques. Teach the teen some relaxation techniques that can be accessed when something sparks an angry response. These can be doing deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, doing art, listening to soothing music, or taking a walk. Eventually they will begin to turn to those activities when they feel anger bubbling up.
- Model appropriate behavior. Most importantly, model appropriate anger management skills and habits within the home environment. Teens emulate their parents, both the good traits and bad ones. Be an example for your teen by managing your own temper. Avoiding verbally lashing out, cursing, and physical aggression to give them a positive role model.
BNI Treatment Center a Leading Residential Mental Health Program for Teens
BNI Treatment Center is a Los Angeles-based residential mental health center that works with youth aged 12-17. Teen anger is a common concern among parents and teachers, as it can be disruptive and threatening. Teens may benefit from a more intensive approach to treatment that includes psychodynamic therapy to examine any underlying causal factors or unresolved emotional pain.
Anger coping skills for teens are taught through our cognitive behavioral therapy, which will guide the teen toward adopting a different mindset when they feel angry or frustrated, that will lead to more constructive, and peaceful, resolutions and behaviors. At BNI Treatment our integrative program is an effective blending of both traditional evidenced-based therapies, and experiential therapies that appeal to teenagers, helping to keep them engaged in their own recovery. For more information about our program, please contact BNI Treatment Center today at (888) 522-1504.