Anger is an emotion that every individual must learn to control throughout their lives and teens are no exception. When normal anger morphs into extreme aggressiveness or violence, it can be frightening and intimidating for parents to handle. While girls and boys are both at some risk for becoming violent, girls usually express their anger verbally, while boys are more likely to punch walls, kick doors or throw objects. When violent tendencies emerge outside the home as well, it can cause serious and long lasting consequences. There are some things you can do to help prevent your teen from becoming violent and help him learn to manage his anger in a healthy way.
- Establish Rules and Consequences – During a calm time, when your teen is receptive to discussion; explain that while there is nothing wrong with anger, it must be expressed in an acceptable way. Let him know that lashing out violently in any situation will result in loss of privileges or even police involvement.
- Dig a Little Deeper – There is often a reason behind the anger in teens and it may help if you are able to uncover it. Sadness and depression, feelings of inadequacy or even bullying may all be the culprits behind negative behavioral issues.
- Healthy Releases – Help your teen find a healthier way to relieve his anger. Activities such as sports, listening to music, going for a run or even hitting a pillow or punching bag are all acceptable ways to deal with rage and tension. See if you can identify what some of his main triggers are in order to practice different coping methods.
- Set a Good Example – Teens often reflect what they observe at home, so it is important that you are demonstrating effective anger management techniques and not lashing in out in violence yourself. You cannot expect your teen to adopt behavior that you are unwilling to.
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open – Your teen may not always be easy to talk to during the adolescent years, but it is important that you continue to make the effort to connect so that they are more comfortable talking to you when you need to discuss serious things like violence or behavioral concerns.
- Understand that if your teen is violent toward you or that you feel as though you are in physical danger, you should seek help immediately. Calling a friend, neighbor or the police does not mean that you don’t love your child enough; it means that you are putting the safety of your family first.
There are times when teens become violent no matter what prevention techniques you try. Social pressure, mental disorders or other reasons might influence how your teen handles his anger. If you have concerns for the safety of your teen or your family, or it seems as though nothing you say or do has helped, you may want to consider a full time residential facility. These programs immerse troubled teens in a therapeutic environment where they can learn effective anger management and prepare to turn their lives around.