Dealing with your teenager’s anger could be one of the best things you can do for your family. Teens get angry for a number of reasons; from fear, feelings of injustice, insecurity, loneliness, overactive hormones, lack of sleep, peer bullying, a growing need for independence and just trying to make sense out of life. Parents get angry when their teens behave in ways that aren’t appropriate or if they feel their children aren’t showing them proper respect. If parents don’t understand that their teenager’s anger may be about something totally separate from them, they might go about lighting the fuse in the dynamite by reacting too harshly. So, guess which party needs to “man up” and defuse the situation?
1) Be a Model. Many times in the heat of anger a person realizes they’re going too far, but they don’t know how to back off and cool down. It’s an important ability for either party, but it is learned by the parent modeling it to their children.
2) Make Your Home Safe Zone Ready. Kids enter a jungle when they walk out the front door. School has always been a tough place. Today the bullying is far worse, in and out of school through online chat rooms, cell phone texting, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter, where insults can reach the teen (and the world) wherever they are.
3) Get Closer/Lower. When I’m dealing with an angry teenager, I don’t walk away. I get closer to them and I intentionally position myself physically close to them. If they’re standing, I stand near them. If they’re sitting in a chair, I sit on the floor. It’s a way to signal that I’m not going to force my opinion on them. I’m telling them without saying a word that I want there to be a two-way conversation about what is bothering them.
So, in our homes we can show our teens that even if they’re upset with us, or the whole world seems to be upset with them, we still love them and accept them unconditionally. When we’ve seemingly become the focus of their anger, it can really cut against our grain personally, but we need to wear our parent hats and avoid being defensive. In fact, don’t even try to quash their anger. If you do, they may well try to seek other ways to deal with their frustration, like drinking or taking drugs to cover up having to think about it. Rather, having a safe place to “blow off steam” and talk about it allows them to process what they’re feeling. After all, they probably aren’t even angry at you, they’re just taking it out on you because you are a convenient target. You don’t have to throw up your hands in resignation and despair if you’re dealing with an angry child.