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Home|Mental Health|How to Calm Down an Angry Teenager

Learn how to diffuse anger when your teen explodes.

Anyone living with a teen has seen an angry outburst up close. They may stomp up the stairs and slam the door while yelling at the top of their lungs. These outbursts are not foreign to parents of teens, but are part and parcel of this chapter in life.

Teens are in that time of life when they want so badly to be an adult and get very upset when they are still treated as a child. Hormones also play a part in their mood swings and intense emotions. Even more so, the teen brain is still forming the functions that help them manage their emotions.

So what do you do to calm down an angry teenager? What is the magic bullet to gaining a sense of peace in the home again? Keep reading to pick up some helpful tips for parents of angry teens.

Why Are Teens So Moody?

The limbic region of the brain regulates the executive functions, like decision-making, emotion regulation, impulse control, and self-control. This brain region is not fully formed until age 25. When the brain is not fully matured a teen may lash out in anger when they feel slighted, disappointed, or frustrated. This is due to a lack of coping skills.

Some of the signs a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed include:

  • Is difficult to reason with.
  • Gets into heated arguments often.
  • Has frequent angry outbursts; rage.
  • Bullies others.
  • Poor social skills.
  • Makes verbal threats.
  • May be cruel to animals or younger siblings.
  • Destroys property.
  • Shows symptoms of depression.
  • Engages in self-harm.
  • Aggressive or violent.

Teens that display these types of signs and symptoms may simply be immature, meaning their brain has not yet caught up. They may outgrow these types of behaviors. If not, there may be a mental health issue involved that should be assessed and treated.

Anger is Not Always Loud

Does your teen stew and simmer when they are upset, instead of expressing their anger? Not all teens show overt signs of being angry. Instead, some teens become closed off emotionally and isolate in their rooms. They stuff their feelings and may express their anger in unhealthy ways, such as substance use disorder or self-harm.

By not showing their anger in an outward way, parents might think all is fine with their child. It is crucial to keep an eye on the teen’s mood state, as teen suicide rates have risen sharply. Stay connected and tuned in to the small, quiet signs your teen might be struggling with depression. Depression symptoms include:

  • Signs of sadness, or feeling hopeless.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Loss of interest.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Change in eating habits; sudden weight gain or loss.
  • Neglects appearance or hygiene.
  • Grades plummet.
  • Restlessness.
  • Trouble paying attention or making decisions.
  • Irritable, angry.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or shame.
  • Substance use disorder.
  • Negative attitude.
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

When Teen Anger Has a Behavior Disorder Involved

There are times when the angry outbursts have a behavioral health element. Two of these disorders include anger and aggression as frequent symptoms:

Oppositional defiant disorder. ODD often first emerges in childhood. In teens, ODD can take on a more intense profile. Symptoms include:

  • Defiance.
  • Refuses to follow rules.
  • Rejects authority figures.
  • Hostile behavior.
  • Verbal aggression.
  • Angry outbursts.
  • Argues often and loudly.
  • Stubbornness.
  • Negative outlook.

Conduct disorder. Conduct disorder may show up in childhood, but most kids will outgrow it as teens. In teens, conduct disorder can signal a more serious antisocial aspect. Symptoms include:

  • Poor impulse control.
  • Bullying.
  • Aggression towards people or animals.
  • Getting into fights often.
  • Pack of patience.
  • Destroys property.
  • Violent towards others.
  • Stealing
  • Lying
  • Trouble discerning social clues.
  • Highly irritable.
  • Lacks empathy.
  • Engages in risky sexual behaviors.
  • Often truant from school.

How to Calm Down an Angry Teen

When parents attempt to diffuse anger it is often at the peak of the outburst when the teen is simply not open. There are many ways to assist teens in controlling their anger, and these should be practiced in an ongoing manner for best results:

  1. Teach techniques to relax. Teach the teen some techniques that can help them relax that they can access when they feel angry. These can include deep breathing, mindfulness, doing art, soothing music, or taking a walk. Over time they will begin to turn to these methods when they feel anger bubbling up.
  2. Teach problem-solving skills. Show the teen how to resolve a problem in a calm, controlled way. Teach them how to come up with some solutions for a given problem. When the teen helps to brainstorm solutions it makes them feel more in control.
  3. Teach conflict resolution skills. Teach teens how to voice their feelings about an issue that upsets them in a way that allows for a calm discussion.
  4. Encourage exercise. Teens should be encouraged to get out and be active. Exercise helps reduce stress and can also improve the mood state.
  5. Be a role mode. Mostly, parents should model their own positive anger response for the teen to learn from. Teens emulate both the good traits and bad ones they view in their parents. Set an example for your teen by keeping a lid on your own temper.

Parents who find that none of these interventions are helping calm their teen down should meet with a mental health provider so the teen can be evaluated.

BNI Treatment Centers Provides Inpatient Teen Mental Health Treatment

BNI Treatment Centers is a mental health treatment program designed for teens. BNI offers acute stabilization and treatment for a range of mental health disorders. BNI creates custom treatment plans it address the unique features of each teen’s mental health issue. If your teen is having anger issues, BNI Treatment Centers can offer. To learn more about our program, please contact us today at (888) 522-1504.

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