A normal human emotion that everyone feels from time to time, anger cannot be controlled in any way as it is a feeling that comes and goes based on an experience. For example, a teenager wanting to go to a party and his mother says no; feels anger as a result of not getting what he wanted.
Anger & Aggression
Aggression is the behaviour that often arises when we feel anger. For example, with reference to the example above, the angry teenager becomes aggressive when he lashes out at his mother by yelling and slamming his bedroom door. We don’t have control over the feeling of anger as it is so automatic, however we do have the choice not to be aggressive. The teenager made a choice to yell at his mother and slam his door.
Anger Management focuses on learning to calm down when we feel anger, so we don’t escalate and become aggressive.
Some of the common reasons leading to anger and possible aggression in teenagers include:
- Developmental/physical changes;
- Bullying and conflict with peers;
- Conflict with parents;
- Aggressive parents;
- Sibling rivalry;
- Academic pressures;
- Feeling overwhelmed can often present as anger/aggression;
- Grief and Depression can also present as anger/aggression;
- Stressful event;
- Significant change in their life (eg divorce or parents);
- Physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
It can be hard as a parent to know what to do when you have an angry or aggressive teenager on your hands – there are some suggestions on my topic page “Parenting Tips for Surviving the Teen Years“.
Managing Anger in Adolescence
There are a number of strategies that can help your teenager to better manage their anger, such as:
- Learning to identify the signs and triggers of anger;
- Learning the physiological changes that occur due to anger;
- Downtime in their room;
- Progressive muscle relaxation;
- Deep breathing – to help calm themselves down;
- Mindfulness – learning to deal with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings;
- Impulse Control – learning to think before acting;
- Effective communication skills (eg learning how to be assertive);
- Emotional regulation skills – learning what to do with uncomfortable emotions;
- Conflict resolution – how to solve problems without aggression.
Could it be a sign of ADHD?
At times, parents wonder if their adolescent’s constant anger outbursts could be a sign of ADHD. An angry teenager does not necessarily mean ADHD; however if you are concerned that this might be the reason, please see my webpage “ADHD: A Parent and Child Perspective“. As explained above, there are a number of causes for anger in teens and it is important to understand what is going on in their life; and also the difference between anger and ADHD.
If you would like to find out more about anger management in adolescence, please don’t hesitate to arrange an appointment with me.
Leia’s main area of interest is clinical child and adolescent psychology, although she can treat individuals and couples of all ages. She has training and experience in a variety of evidence based treatment approaches.
To make an appointment with Clinical Psychologist Leia Redman try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.