In many cases, parents need to recognize that the outburst of anger from their teenager may not be due to them being angry at their parents. It is often a release valve allowing them to vent the internal strife, excessive frustrations and emotions they experience during this metamorphosis period of their life. When dealing with teenage children, the approach taken will need to be modified as compared to toddlers and younger children; you will increasingly have to substitute diplomacy and tact for discipline in this age group. Parents might consider the following 10 tips for tackling teenager anger problems:
Show by Example
Don’t overreact and avoid exacerbating the situation by responding angrily. You are the adult… so act like one!
Cool Rules !
Repeating the mantra ‘lose your cool and look like a fool’ can get through to many teenagers because the one thing they dread at that age is looking an idiot…cool rules!
Communication and One-to-One’s
When both parties are calm, try to communicate and get to the root of the situation. Heated arguments never produce meaningful outcomes.
You can help your teenager work through anger-provoking issues by setting aside time for sharing thoughts, experiences and moods in a quiet place free of interruptions from other family members. Processing issues daily rather than waiting for them to build up and explode can help your teen retain control of his or her temper. Angry teenagers sometimes act as though they don’t want your help, but inside, most are grateful.
Give your child plenty of hugs and affection.
Working at becoming a good listener can prove highly beneficial when dealing with anger-prone teens. Listening, a vital aspect of good communication skills, demonstrates to the teenager that you are willing to invest time and energy in them and their world. Simply asking them about what happened at school, how their friends are doing or whether they have anything troubling them, helps facilitate dialogue, cements family bonding and build their self-esteem.
Setting out clear guidelines in ‘black and white’ can be very helpful when tackling teenager anger problems because it introduce accountability and a reference point when transgression has taken place. Keeping the rules easy at hand, for example by posting them on the refrigerator, helps remind all concerned of their obligations.
The process will involve establishing a framework of what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable together with setting appropriate consequences for infractions e.g. what constitutes acceptable ways of expressing displeasure or irritation. Although parents may invite their teen to help write the guidelines through negotiating certain points, aspects that will not be tolerated need to be made crystal clear and enforced if necessary through appropriate discipline. Examples of unacceptable behavior might include throwing or damaging things, door slamming, being uncooperative regarding homework or housework, threats or hitting, profanity etc.
The Power of ‘You’
Replace ‘I’ with ‘You’ by acknowledging their feelings. “I could have told you not to do that” is judgmental and critical, whereas, “You sound really upset. Would you like to talk about it?” comes across as putting them first.
Venting emotions and anger refers to redirecting pent-up emotion. Encourage them to have hobbies, get involved in physical exercise or even take an extra shower!
Anger Management Materials
When the atmosphere is calm, consider introducing an anger management book or DVD produced for teenagers. To avoid them feeling cornered, it may be wise to suggest that they take it away and check it out at their leisure. They can get back to you if they have any questions.
Given that teenagers deal with unique situations and encounters that only a teen might understand, it is very important that any additional anti-anger resources and materials supplied are teen-friendly and targeted specifically for this age group. The advice and lesson plans found in the materials will help provide answers to many of the question posed by young people regarding dealing with feelings of anger.
Rewards and Incentives
Rewards for self-control and appropriate anger processing are another anger management tip suitable for teenagers. Rewards could be as simple as extra time on the computer, television or reduced household chores for that week. However, keep things real and do not go overboard with lavish rewards. It’s important that they understand as soon as possible that the greatest reward is the personal satisfaction gained from achieving a task; monetary gain can be nice but it has to be in proportion to the achievement.
Also, children need to see a balance between love, forgiveness, respect and discipline in the context of action leading to consequence. Let your teenager know that although you are on their side, as they mature they must increasingly demonstrate responsibility for managing emotions, including anger, in adult-like ways that are socially acceptable.