Sometimes, the behavior exhibited by a teenager cannot be excused and may give rise to more serious concern. If they begin to exhibit a pattern of unacceptable behavior or they show any form of aggression or violence, it is the parent’s duty to seek professional help for the sake of their child. Allowing frustration and anger to be exhibited in harmful ways or fester into rage or fury can result in potentially dire consequences.
Teenagers with anger problems require early diagnosis and special interventions or anger management training to help them cope and become adjusted to more normal emotional processing as quickly as possible. An anger management specialist can advise you as to whether your teenager might benefit from counseling or group therapy. In addition, you may want to work closely with your child’s teacher and school so that a consistent approach can be maintained both at home and school.
By nature, parents are protective of their children, but it is essential to be objective and get the problem resolved as soon as possible. No matter how difficult it is, try not being overly defensive. You show your love by tackling the issue and not through maintaining your pride. Doing the right thing does not mean taking the path of least resistance!
By sharing information such as:
- What are the common anger or rage triggers?
- Do their rages occur more or less frequently at school?
- What impact is their behavior having on their ability to form or maintain friendships at school? etc,
progress will occur more rapidly and the risk of them dropping out of school and underachieving will be lessened. Anger-prone adolescents may not even realize their behavior is beyond the limits of acceptability, so this will require diplomacy and discretion on the part of both parents and teachers.
There are all sorts of anger management groups, camps and retreats that are designed to offer affected teens time away from their normal environment. They tend to incorporate fun and interesting activities within an anger management framework and provide teenagers with the support and tools necessary for dealing with anger-related issues. There are mixed gender or separate gender anger management groups/camps as well as those designed for specific age groups (12-17 are typical). By their nature, the camps and retreats offer the opportunity for a different experience both with regard to duration and location, compared to a local evening or weekend group activity.
Traits Related to Anger Problems That Give Cause for Concern
- Low tolerance threshold and frequent fighting.
- Animal cruelty.
- Dispassionate and unable to relate to other people’s feelings.
- Fascination with violent films, weapons or gang culture. May carry weapons or be part of a gang.
- Use of alcohol or drugs.
- Vandalism, graffiti or damage to property.
- Bullying or being bullied.
Risk of Being an ‘Ostrich’ and Not Tackling the Problem
An example to consider regarding not addressing anger issues and their causes (in a child or teenager) relates to domestic violence. Numerous studies and surveys have shown that the roots of adult domestic violence can clearly be traced back to childhood. Both males and females who have been abused as children and/or displayed conduct disorders as adolescents are found to be at risk for partner violence. This highlights the reason why prevention programs should not just target the boys.
The early manifestation of such issues can be observed in teenagers in serious relationships. When compared to other teenagers, this cohort are almost twice as likely to experience abuse, controlling and violent behavior. Some alarming statistics include:
- 64% reported controlling behavior.
- 61% reported having a partner who made them feel bad or embarrassed about themselves.
- 55% compromised their values to please their partner.
- 50% of young women worried that their partner would break up with them if they did not agree to engage in sex.
- 30% reported being worried about their physical safety.
- 25% reported being in a relationship where their partner put them down or called them names.
- 20% in a serious relationship reported being hit, slapped or pushed.
The perpetrators of such behavior tend to have the following possible personality traits:
- Sudden anger, jealousy, verbal abuse, controlling behavior, unpredictable mood swings.
- History of anger issues and violence with previous partners.
- Threats of violence, use of force.
- Cruelty to animals.
Where to Find Help
If you are a parent of an anger-prone teen, you may be unsure about where to find information or help. Various articles in the sections anger and children and adult anger management contain information that might still prove helpful in dealing with teenagers. For example, the articles practical approaches, 25 tips to beat stress, finding help, cognitive therapy or how to control anger, still contain actionable advice for teens, so long as one make allowances for the difference in age groups.
You can also ask your child’s principal or school psychologist for a referral to an anger management therapist. They can help your teenager learn how to deal with uncomfortable emotions in socially acceptable ways. Larger schools may offer support groups for such teenagers either at school (can be during or after school meetings) or outside the school environment at a club or even through meetings at home.