Navigating Teenage Angst: Empowering Adolescents to Tame Their Anger, Inside and OutOct 20, 2023
Teenagers face many challenges as they navigate the ups and downs of adolescence. In figuring out their identity, values, and dreams, they often feel overwhelmed by their emotions. When this happens, it's common for them to have "anger explosions ."Most teens feel guilty or ashamed afterward and can fall into a pattern of anger/shame/isolation.
To break this cycle, it's essential to help teens understand their anger when it emerges and provide them with the tools to regulate their emotions. This blog post will discuss how you can help your teenager manage anger.
1) First and foremost, remind your teen that learning to manage anger takes practice, time, and patience. Perfection is not expected. Take inventory of how anger is usually expressed in your family. If you also find yourself or other adults in the home are quick to anger, this is an excellent opportunity to work on the adult's skills.
Be open and honest with yourself about where your own anger management skills are as a parent! Remind your teen and yourself that they are not their anger. Their outbursts do not define them as a "bad or mean kid."
2) Break the stigma associated with anger. Instead, help your teen learn that anger is a normal, healthy human emotion. There is nothing inherently wrong with the human feeling of anger. People get into trouble when it gets out of control, rageful, and persistent. We must teach teens to control and channel their anger toward positive action. We can help them learn to make better choices and build new patterns to manage their anger healthily.
3) One of the essential skills we can teach teens is the ability to slow down when they feel anger rising. By pausing, they can evaluate the situation and choose how to react. This is known as impulse control training. If they can't stay calm in the heat of the moment, they may need to step away for a time-out and regulate their emotions before engaging. Do not force your teen to engage with you when they are at 10/10 anger. Let them cool off and come back!
Nothing can be resolved when humans are dysregulated in a fight or flight mode. If forced to engage, unhealthy behavior can escalate quickly. By allowing for a pause, you create space for yourself and your teen to have productive conversations at a safer time without letting anger get the best of anyone.
4) The more we understand our anger body sensations, the more control we can have over it. Therefore, we must help teens be curious about their body cues for anger. Teach them to identify the bodily sensations and thoughts that trigger their anger. Labeling these triggers when they occur teaches them to take a step back before reacting or lashing out.
5) Offer healthy coping mechanisms, like deep breathing or journaling, that allow teenagers to deal with their frustrations productively. By providing these tools, we help teens understand that anger is a natural emotion that can be managed healthily.
Managing anger is a critical task of adolescent development! By helping teens understand the irritation in their minds and bodies, we can provide them with the necessary tools to manage their emotions. Encouraging teens to slow down and pause, label their bodily sensations and thoughts, and practice healthy coping mechanisms supports healthy expression and management of emotions. Ultimately, as parents, educators, or caregivers, we strive to help our teens navigate these emotions and keep them as they grow into healthy, resilient, and empathetic adults.