Help, My Troubled Teen Is Violent

It can be frightening and intimidating when your teen begins to display violent tendencies. Whether it is happening at home, or you are receiving reports of bullying and fights, teen violence can lead to negative habits and even life changing consequences. While the severity of the violence involved may require outside professional help, there are still some things you can do as a parent to help your teen learn to control his anger and express it in a more healthy way:

  • Consistent Rules and Consequences – Teens need consistency more than ever and particularly in the home. You should give your teen a clear idea of what is an unacceptable way to display anger and what the consequences are if he breaks the rules or puts others in danger. Depending on the situation and your teen’s history, this can result in loss of consequences or even police involvement. He should know that you are ready and willing to help him learn how to manage his anger, but that you will not stand for violent behavior.
  • Communicate – It is easy to let communication slip between you and your teen during the adolescent years as he becomes less and less interested in talking. However, you need to offer him as many opportunities to talk as possible in order to determine whether there is something deeper that is driving the violence. Teens often lash out because of sadness or depression, feelings of inadequacy or social insecurity. Once you determine what the problem is, you can help him address it.  
  • Alternative Releases – It may help your teen to identify alternative ways to release his tension or anger. Team sports, listening to or playing music, going for a long run, hitting a pillow or punching bag  or learning to walk away and cool off are all healthy ways to deal with anger. Figuring out what his main triggers are can help him practice different coping methods.
  • Be an Example – It is more important than ever for you to set a good example for your teen as they often absorb what they observe at home. Demonstrating effective anger management techniques in your relationship and day to day challenges may help your teen learn to follow your example.
  • Safety – You have a right to feel safe in your own home. Know that if your teen is aggressive toward you or you are concerned for the immediate safety of anyone in the home, you should seek help immediately. Calling a neighbor, friend or even the police does not mean that you are an inferior parent or that you don’t love your teen enough. The safety of both your teen and your family should always come first.

In situations where you are not seeing any results from your efforts or your teen is getting more out of control, it may be necessary to turn to professional help. Residential treatment centers are programs that help troubled boys identify their issues and learn to deal with them in a full time therapeutic environment where they can gain the skills they need in order to manage anger effectively and turn their lives around.

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