When your teen becomes angry, their outbursts or cutting words can make you feel like you’re living in a war zone in your own home.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are tactics you can use for helping teens with anger, keep your sanity, and get back to loving each other as a family.
10 Ways to Deal With An Angry Teenager
1. Protect quiet zones.
Make sure your teen has a safe space in their home to process their angry feelings. Whether it is their bedroom or the basement, let your teen know this is a place to go to for self-reflection, or to journal or listen to music, until they are calm – and perhaps ready to talk about what is causing such explosive anger. If there are younger siblings in the household, remind them of the importance of respecting your teen’s space.
2. Remember it’s not about you.
Don’t personalize your teen’s anger. While it may seem as if your teen’s anger is always directed at you, often you are just the closest one to be caught in the crossfire. Besides going through the awkwardness of puberty and dealing with those physical and emotional changes, your teen may be dealing with a heavy academic workload, peer pressure, romantic issues, sexuality, friend issues, and worries about their future.
You don’t have to accept poor treatment from your teen. But realize that the root of your teen’s anger is likely much deeper than you not giving them a later curfew or allowing them to go to a party where there were no adult chaperones.
3. Provide healthy outlets.
Encourage your teen to get active or creative when they need a vent for their anger. Exercise, playing basketball, bike riding, journaling, painting, or writing a song can all release healthy endorphins when teens are stressed. Healthy activities can help manage stress and calm intense emotions.
4. Don’t lash back.
When you refuse to be a combatant with your teen, they will be in a one-way battle and may give up the fight. No matter how difficult it may be not to get into a screaming match or to point fingers, you are the adult and the parent here, so keep your wits about you if you can.
We all get angry sometimes, but you can mirror the right behavior for your teen by expressing your anger without hurting anyone or putting another person down. If we parents get belligerent when someone cuts us off on the highway or short changes us at the supermarket, we are not mirroring positive behavior for our teen to follow.
6. Validate your teen.
Sometimes those who are the angriest and most unlovable need the most love. Let your teen know that you are there for them and ready to listen to their feelings without judgment. Let your teen know you are their biggest supporter and always will be. Validate those gifts you know they have underneath all that anger – it can shift the mood during times of conflict.
7. Fill your home with laughter.
Like adults, teens have a lot on their plate. Coming home to a place where silliness is the norm can teach your teen not to take life so seriously. As studies have shown, laughter reduces stress and benefits health. Put on a funny movie, make silly faces, tell knock knock jokes. Just laugh.
Write your teen a letter and encourage your teen to write you one. A letter is less confrontational, and you can each get your points across without being cut off. Letters can also offer affirmation and reassurance during difficult times.
9. Get counseling.
If your teen is exhibiting defiant behavior, getting violent, having difficulties with drugs, alcohol, or sex, or is depressed, get professional help. It may be a hard sell to get your teen to counseling, but it is a necessary one if you are very concerned about your teen’s emotional health. Try to find a therapist that works with adolescents. It’s okay if you have to go through a few therapists before you find the one your teen is comfortable with.
10. Expect backward days.
There will be days when you think your teen has progressed in containing their anger, but then there will be days in which it seems your teen is moving backwards. That is to be expected. Take a deep breath, repeat a few of these steps, and remind yourself that we all have backward days. But we also have the saving grace of the next day to try again.