Introduction – Why does my teenager get so angry?
Teenage is a transition period when a lot of physical, psychological and hormonal changes takes place. The teenager wants to get out of the comfort of home and become independent. This changeover of being fully independent from dependent causes confusion. The different parts of the brain of the teenager are at different stages of development. The part which controls emotions lags and the teen’s frustration is at a peak not being able to judge between the good and the bad. The frustration comes out in the form of anger which is not good for him and the people around him.
Teens undergo emotional upheavals and the result is anger, which not controlled progress to rage. In a fit of rage, the teenager may hurt the person with whom he is in conflict, hurt himself, be defiant, argue, use bad words, steal and even run away from the house. As a parent, we need to have a lot of patience to deal with our teenage son or daughter. The parenting strategies which we have used so far need to be changed when our child steps into teenage.
Signs & reasons behind my teen getting angry:
We have to make the teen aware of the anger that is brewing and is getting out of control. Talk about the reasons that are making him/her angry and what actually happens to them when they are angry.
Reasons behind your child getting angry –
His/her feelings were hurt due to somebody’s comment.
Unfair treatment from parents, teacher, etc.
Lost in a game or competition.
Needed something badly but got denied.
Interference by friends or siblings.
6 anger management techniques (for teens)
The teens can adopt the following techniques to manage their anger.
1. Identify the anger and the reasons behind it:
The teen should become aware that he/she is angry. It would help if they can put the anger into words. E.g. Why am I so angry? What is making me angry? Say it in the mind or aloud. This process will help to bring down the anger, know the reason behind anger and help to act rather than react.
2. Differentiate between anger and aggression:
Knowing the difference between anger and aggression can help teens to control their anger. Anger is a normal emotion which everyone gets at one point in time. Aggression starts when this anger goes out of control. The teen may hit someone, bang his head, damage property or yell showing the signs of aggression. The teen should know that aggression is not acceptable.
3. Assertive skills:
Being assertive instead of angry can help teens to acquire what they want without hurting or disturbing others especially parents. The teen has to use his assertive skills to convince his parents about his demands and make them see his viewpoint.
4. Think of the solution:
Thinking about a solution can give time to dissipate the anger and make the teen focus on the problem. There can be many options for the solution from which one has to be chosen and acted upon.
5. Considering the consequences:
The teen needs to think about the consequences before he acts upon. Such questions as if I yell what will be the result should be answered by the teen himself/ herself before he/she gets angry and does something unwanted.
6. Distraction is the key:
Teens should be aware of the anger management skills in which anger can be used in a productive or creative way. When in anger, if they chose to do the work that they really hate, like cleaning the room, folding the clothes or sweeping the floor, they will be absorbed in the work so much so that the anger dissipates, and the chores are also done. Listening to music, drawing, dancing, etc., can soothe their tempers and distract them from their anger.
When a teen is in anger, all the thinking, emotions or planning often goes to the winds. He should be aware of his anger, the damage it can do and the ways to control it. Only with lots of self-control and restraint can the teen get over his/her anger.
How parents can help?
With parents understanding, support and help, the teens can learn to manage their anger. Here are the ways in which parents can help their teens.
1. Anger rules in your house:
As parents set anger rules which you as well as the children should follow. Make it very clear what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable when they are angry. For example, yelling, hitting or breaking things is not acceptable. Expressing your anger in words, taking time out, count till ten before you speak, etc is acceptable.
2. Be a role model:
As a parent, when you are in anger respond in the same way you want your child to respond. When you are angry, talk about your feelings. Sometimes walking away from the scene teaching teens non-violent ways of dealing with anger.
3. Instead of suppressing anger, manage anger:
Teach your teenager not to suppress anger within. Instead, let it vent out in a constructive way. Anger can be used to put forward a message or make the other person see your viewpoint.
4. Avoid arguments and power struggles:
Do not react and walk away from the scene saying, “ We can talk later when we are in a calmer state of mind.” Or otherwise, turn the radio or television on and your teen will get the message.
5. Practise yoga, and meditation with your teen:
This will help him/her not to get disturbed easily and help him/her to control thoughts and actions. Also playing sports and doing physical activities will help reduce stress and boost energy taking the mind away from negative thoughts.
Anger management activities for kids:
Many times teenagers tend to hide their anger, emotional pain, hurts, scars, etc which will eventually cause physical and emotional injury to themselves and others close to them. The teen should find an outlet to such negative feelings before the damage is done. There are fun games that can help the teens to manage their anger.
1. Hidden Heart:
The hidden heart is a game in which the teen is given two balloons. In one balloon a small heart shape is inserted and tied with a ribbon without being inflated. This balloon is inserted into a larger balloon which is then inflated and tied. The teen is asked to write on the outside of the balloon how he/she hides the feelings. Using humor to hide the feelings, acting tough, etc., are some of the ways. A discussion is facilitated on whether this helps. Finally, the teens are asked whether they want to share their inner feelings in the form of heart. When they agree, the outer balloon bursts to reveal the inner balloon with the heart which represents hidden feelings, pain, anger and emotions.
2. Board game challenge:
This game helps teens who have difficulty controlling their anger in competitive situations. The teens can play any board games such as Operation, Stay Alive, Simon, Jenga, etc. In these games, competition is created to finish the game with most money which in turn creates an intensely competitive atmosphere. After the game a discussion is conducted as to how the participants felt when they won, lost, their feelings of disappointment, anger and whether competition is good or bad.
3. Anger management thumball:
In this game, a soft stuffed ball known as Thumball is rolled, thrown, or passed in a circle or randomly among the group of players. When one gets the ball he/she has to look under his/her thumb and respond to the anger prompt written on it. The prompt facilitates the teens to discuss the anger issues and how he/she can deal with it.
Anger can do more damage than resolve an issue. It should be kept under control or let go by directing it towards physical or creative activities. Anger can be used against injustice, achieving goals and keeping ourselves safe. When Gandhiji was thrown out of the first-class compartment of the train in South Africa, he used his anger to adopt satyagraha against the racist regime.