Updated: Aug 19, 2020
Teenagers’ rage, anger and aggression is something many parents of teenagers will often have to deal with.
If you are a parent of teens you probably know or have experienced unexplained fumes of fury and fire from you teenager. May be even violence and aggression. I certainly have and, having worked with thousands of teenagers over the years I can tell you this is certainly not an anomaly.
As parent of teenagers, we want to know how to deal with our teenagers’ rage and anger, their violent and aggressive outburst. This is so that we can help them manage that and support our teenagers to developing habits of highly effective teenagers.
You probably expected a bit of moodiness and attitude as your child grew into a teenager. But, I bet you didn't expect the dash from 0 degrees to 150 degrees - calm to fumes. This drastic dash speed of emotions is what sometimes makes these aggressive outbursts hard to handle, because the violence catches us unaware.
To be honest, ongoing outrage and aggression of this sort can wear down even the strongest parent. But before you lose hope, give up and resign to “this is what it is and will be” take a deep breath.
Let's take this as an opportunity to learn and yes, you can learn how you to deal with your teen's violence and aggression and hopefully guide them to regulating their rage and anger. Managing this process successfully can even end up bringing the two of you closer.
Let’s explore some of the strategies that as parents of teenagers we can use to diffuse teenagers' violence and aggression towards parents and even towards their peers. Identification of these situations and coining this as an inappropriate behaviour, can be a starting point for parents to help and support teenagers learn how to self-regulate.
You know as much as I do that if our teenagers learn to manage their anger and aggression,and by this I don't mean suppressing it, but to really feel the anger and rage, accept it and express it safely. This can help to create a calmer environment in the home as well as with their wider relationships in the community.
Here are the 9 Ways To Deal With Teenagers’ Rage & Anger
Number #1 way to deal with your teenager's aggression and violence.
Remind yourself not to lose it just because they’ve lost it.
Only God and parents of teenagers knows how difficult it is not to flip when your teen yells at you or is violent towards you. Now, if our reaction is raising our voice, then we are not better than them and this is only likely to escalate the situation, make the teenager feel even more justified in their violence and anger, get louder and even more frighteningly vengeful.
Instead, we can practise to stand silently, and if we speak, to lower our voice and speak slowly and deliberately. This method achieves two goals.
Firstly, you model appropriate behaviour during times of disagreement.
Secondly, when you manage your emotions and slowly drop the frequency.
Your level of emotional frequency becomes contagious to your teen, and they will most likely stop the shouting. It is hard to continue attacking a non-resistant and non-threatening person. Your teen is more likely to fall into the same mode of communication in their responses and if they don’t, they are likely to leave because they have no opponent to contend with.
Number #2 way to deal with teenagers anger and rage.
Establish a clear habit that communicates and signals to your teen that you don't need to deal with problems when you're highly charged because it is neither safe nor sound. You can say "I pause" and encourage your teenager to exercise that freedom to pause too.
Either of you can ask to walk away and continue the discussion when things have cooled down.
This allows your teenager time to have a breather, and for you, time to ground yourself ready for this discussion - if it is still needed. The caveat, if you left it at pause, both of you need to return to the discussion afterwards and deal with it appropriately.
Sometimes, when you go back to address it, the teenager will say it doesn’t matter anymore.
This can be your opportunity to remind them that, heightened emotions of rage and anger are detrimental to the brain and body. The degree of harmful effects increases by being in that state on a regular or consistent basis.
When teenagers understand what is harmful to them, they are more willing to learn how to self-regulate and manage their emotions. If you just tell them to stop being angry, they see that as just another of parent's commands and they can reject it outright. However, when you give them valid rationale, they are more likely to accept and adopt it.
Number #3 way to deal with teen violence and aggression.
As a parent of teenager, I am sure on top of having a family you have a busy life with work and community. Sometimes we are so busy and don't necessarily want to hear about the latest teen squabble playing out on social media.
But practice stopping when your teenager comes to you. Completely stop what you are doing and focus. Allow your teen to have your full attention for that moment so that they know you are hearing them.
Listen and then validate their feelings.
If you can absolutely not stop, just let them know to give you a minute after which you will stop and listen.
But do make sure you stop.
You don’t have to agree with what they are saying but show your compassion towards them as they explain their situation. Because at that moment, that which they are angry about, matters to them.
When we don’t listen, teenagers can equate this to us not caring about them.
Again, if you can absolutely not listen to them at that very moment, let them know when you are available and then make sure you keep that commitment to them.
Number #4 way to deal with teenagers anger and rage.
Model healthy emotions
When parenting teenagers, you can't expect your teen to diffuse and manage their own anger and rage if you are not diligently dealing with your own anger and rage and tend to be aggressive.
Do you yell, scream, lash out or behave in other downright destructive behaviours?
Then you will need to work on yourself because eenagers will model what and how you behave. We are examples to our teenagers.
Psychological research continues to show us that parents have the highest and strongest influence on their kids’ lives. So be the person you want your teenager to be.
Our behaviour, more than anything else overrides all the well-intentioned advice that we give to our teens.
Therefore, let’s start with the main person, “you and I”.
By learning to manage your own emotions you demonstrate to your teen how to manage their rage and anger. They see and follow what you do and are therefore more likely to emulate.
So, let’s give our teenagers something positive to model, something decent they can copy.
Number #5 of helping our teenagers manage their aggression.
Be an affirming and an empowering parent
No one, even more so, our teens, likes to be continuously assessed and criticised. Let’s avoid haranguing and giving our teens endless lists of instructions or things they must do. Also, avoid analysing their every move, constantly criticising, running them down and picking every bit of their negative behaviour. Remember they are human too and do fall short.
Speak respectfully to your teenager no matter what. You know that everyone likes to be spoken to respectfully.
With teenagers even if they don’t recognise their own disrespectful actions, remember every misplaced or uncalled-for word directed towards them can dent and shred their self-esteem. Choose your words carefully when addressing them. Weigh your words before uttering them and if you feel they are not laced with kindness, withhold them, just don’t say them.
Check out this blog post: 4 Ways To effectively communicate With Your Teenager.
This will help you model excellent communication behaviours that will help your teen express themself in better and safer ways.
Number #6 way to deal with teenagers anger and rage.
Have healthy boundaries
Teens often see and regard their room as their den and domain. Most say they connect that with their individuality, and it is no wonder that teenagers spend most their time in there.
Establish a family policy where members knock on the door and don't barge into each other's rooms. Teenagers who feel their boundaries have been broken can get really angry and violent and usually harbour resentment.
Teens are also very protective of their “priced” possessions. So, if you want to use any of their belongings, please ask for permission. Remember to accept if their answer is, no. Your teen should afford you the same courtesy. Remind them that respect goes both ways.
For example, if your girl wants to use your make-up they should ask for permission and if they want to use the car, they must ask permission.
Boundaries ought to be respected on both sides.
Stop mollycoddling your teen
I don’t know about you but my teens and definitely every teen I have come across in my many years of working with them, pretty much have an allergic reaction to being treated like a child” (mind you they are still legally children) But you know how often they remind us that “I am not a child”.
Take this as a positive move towards young adulthood and start treating your teenager like a young person and less like a child, which can help reduce their aggression, rage and anger towards you.
Take this as your opportunity to remind them that since they are not “children” in their own words, they must behave- not like children.
This may be our time as parents of teenagers to drop our bossy boots, and authoritative stance, time to go evens and speak with our teens like we would another adult.
This can be hard because most parents want to maintain that image of their little girl or boy, and some feel like they are losing their carer’s role which can make parents clingy towards their teenagers.
Allow your teenager to engage in age-appropriate activities Let your teenager make decisions about their school activities and schedules. This will help tame their anger and resentment toward imposed duties, and at the same time they will have the opportunity to work through the decision making and problem-solving process, which is helpful for the development of life skills that are useful now and even more in their adult life.
Number #8 way to deal with teenagers anger and rage.
Set anger limits
As parents of teenagers, this is a discussion that we should initiate in the family. Your teenager needs to know it is ok to be angry, but it is not ok to damage property, damage other people’s worth by berating and verbally abusing them or getting physically aggressive when upset.
If this happens, it needs immediate nipping in the bud!
Hold them accountable and let them experience the consequences of such behaviour. This may mean them repairing or paying for damage caused or engaging in restorative practice where they engage with the person they have hurt.
When teenagers are shown how their actions have affected others they may take the opportunity to genuinely apologise to those they have hurt and this is a good chance to learn how to reflect on their behaviour.
Number #9 way to deal with teenagers anger and rage.
Offering constructive self management options.
Many teens lash out because they don't know of any other ways to express their feelings. If you know about the teenager’s brain you know the havoc that is running and wrecking in there.
Even the poor teenagers mostly don’t know how their brain and hormones work. Therefore, they don’t know how to deal with it. Their frontal lobe is not fully developed, and they are still operating on immature instincts.
Discuss what is happening in their brain and assure them that you will be understanding but they shouldn’t just settle at being led by hormones. They need to identify ways to self-regulate and practice alternative and safe ways of managing their anger, rage and frustrations.
Identify moments when teenagers are calm and receptive and offer some of your suggestions and alternatives.
Recommendations can include deep breathing.
You can consider calm music and you can grab FREE Streaming here and allow the music to be played throughout the house including their room.
Writing in a journal can be helpful too. You can grab for them something like this teen journal here.
Physical activity is another good option.
Again as said before, listening to music is a great option.
Eventually, the teenage's brain will fully develop, hormones will balance out and behaviour modification will kick in.
As parents of teens, it is our job to be consistent and always show up and let them know we love them despite their rage, aggression and anger.
Our job is to guide them to adopt acceptable and safer ways of dealing with their emotions, and to safely manage their rage and anger so they can end up being mature and productive members of the community.
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How To Deal With Teenagers’ Rage & Anger | ©Angela Karanja | Child Psychologist, Educator, Researcher| July 2020
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