When people look back on their transition from being a child to becoming a young adult, most would admit that“…it was a challenging period of life” is somewhat of an understatement. Even those who come from loving and stable homes are still subjected to the rapid changes in body appearance, surging hormones, relationships and the emotional rollercoaster of developing a sense of identity.
Although children with anger issues can occur in any type of family unit, there is far more risk when they come from troubled homes. In such situations, children may be affected by parental neglect, abandonment, busy schedules or avoidance, to name a few. Also, family members that frequently undergo periods of heavy work-related stress can sometimes contribute to a child’s anger issues. Often, parental conflicts and family dysfunction may lead to anger management issues that require professional assistance to resolve them adequately.
Raising kids is harder than ever these days. Questionable or negative role models, ‘me-centered’ self-gratification and dwindling social restrictions encourage children to express unrestrained emotions that can wreak havoc on families and society.
Increasingly, the pressure from mass media encourages teenagers to grow up long before their mind and body are ready for it. Anger exhibited by many teenagers is due to perceived inadequacy, frustration with themselves and a fear of failure. The stress of conformity and peer pressure has probably never been greater, and although many young people handle it well, a significant number feel over-challenged and under attack.
Not only do today’s teenagers face even greater pressures than those of the past, but by age eighteen, most have witnessed thousands of simulated murders and hundreds of thousands of acts of violence through video games, mass media and television e.g. AAP 2009. Furthermore, some teenagers are involved in real-world violence associated with gang activity. Others come from broken homes where domestic violence and substance abuse are the norm. By the time they start going through puberty, their entire existence may seem out of their control, and they may grow increasingly enraged, acting out their anger in antisocial ways that require adolescent anger management.
Some teenagers respond to this by repressing their anger and withdrawing. This group often reacts by going into self-preservation mode and building a mental protective wall around themselves. Other teenagers when faced with conflict will lash out and become reckless, often to the point of violence. Although rebellion has always been a trait of this age group, sadly, one only has to look at the news to see the increasing reports of destruction to property, physical aggression and violence resulting in tragedy and death.
Aside from the impact on family life, a teenager with uncontrolled anger issues will find it increasingly takes control of their life. They tend to say hurtful and upsetting things, holler and scream, push people around, kick or punch inanimate objects and even self-harm. Not only will it impact their ability to form friendships but it can have a profound effect on their success at school; underachieving is a real possibility.
As they get older, if the problem is not tackled effectively, it can spiral out of control and lead to an inability to function effectively in a college or working environment. Unfortunately, a lack of control (which is typically associated with low self-esteem) can increase the risk of the individual getting into trouble with the police and authorities, with the ensuing risk of incarceration. Therefore, learning to control anger as early as possible is an essential life skill.
As a side note and worth considering are the results from a British study by Wade et al. 2006. Researchers found that humans lose the ability to detect expressions of anger and sadness around the time of puberty. This discovery, which surprised scientists conducting a pioneering study of the ability to read expressions, could explain why teenagers around the age of 13/14 years old suffer the exasperating inability to understand their parents. Commenting on the results, David Skuse of the Institute of Child Health, London, said “Teenagers really do get ‘dumber’ in their social intelligence around the time of puberty…one wonders sometimes if they understand anything you are saying….it would appear that this is a function of their brain at that time.”