Your initial reaction to your teen’s anger is important.
Elevations RTC is breaking down how to help your teen manage their anger. Dealing with anger, a raw and unpredictable emotion, can be difficult in any situation, but throw in the hormones and inexperience of teenagers and the situation can become devastating quickly. In part one of our two part series on teen anger, we discuss four things that you can do as a parent to help teach your teen a healthier way to manage their anger.
When your teen is in the throes of a tantrum or directing all their rage at you, how do you react? Do you get angry back? Although we make the decision on how to react within a split second, it’s this reaction that can set the tone of an entire argument with our teen. It can be tough; sometimes our teen is acting so outrageously that our own anger boils over to match theirs. There are certain things that we can do to quickly and efficiently de-escalate the situation and turn our teen’s anger into productive emotions instead.
Learning how to control our own reactions to anger can help start turning our relationship around with our teen. Whether we freeze, become angry, or even “lose it” ourselves; we can use our example to teach our teen how to manage his temper. We know just how difficult this can be though; it’s easy to react in the moment, but we also know how much this works with managing our angry kids. It’s important to understand that anger is a “secondary emotion.” This means that another unpleasant feeling is always lurking beneath the surface, both in ourselves and our teen. For us, it may be the unpleasant shock at our teen’s behavior; for our teen, it may be the uncertainty with how to productively express their dismay at something. Anger is a lot like fear, something causes it; it just leaves us feeling less vulnerable than hurt or fear does.
4 things to avoid when your teen is angry:
Another important thing to remember about anger is that it does serve a purpose. It is key to telling us when something is wrong. It can be dangerous though when not handled properly. Anger is an immediate reaction, similar to touching a hot stove and immediately jerking our hand away. While we can’t always control what makes us angry, we can control what we do when we “pull our hand away from the stove.” With all of this in mind, these are seven important things to remember when your teen gets angry:
Don’t get in her face. When your child is having an angry outburst, it can be tempting to match their anger level and direct it back at them, but this is not a healthy way to handle the situation and can instead ignite their anger further. Instead, give her some space to cool off. Once the situation has de-escalated and they are more willing to hear what you have to say, then you can approach them.