Everybody gets angry at some point. Parents get angry, teachers get angry, even religious leaders get angry at certain times in their life. Anger is not an unnatural feeling that you need to keep suppressed at all times. In fact, it’s the kind of thing that is harmful when bottled up. Much like a bottle of soda that you shake up, anger that is suppressed can blow up and cause more trouble than necessary.
Teaching teens to get to know their anger
Things can get pretty rough at school. Every day, teens can get a lot of provocation to get mad and plenty of opportunities to act on their anger. Teenage years can be a high-stress time because of the changes that teens have to deal with emotionally and physically.
If teens don’t learn to manage their anger issues, however, it could result to a lot of trouble at school and at home. It can affect how they learn (and enjoy) school, it can cause problems with their friends and families, and could set a negative trend with how they handle pressure and stress in the future. If anger is a normal emotion to experience, it’s also normal to encounter irritants and go through stressful and challenging experiences. It’s simply not possible to go through life without these things.
Is your teen’s response to anger out of control or less than desirable? In helping your teen through his journey to self-awareness and self-discovery, a little self-examination may be in order. Here are a few questions teens can ask themselves find out whether they have anger management issues:
- Do you often get into fights because you are angry?
- When you are angry, do you throw things around or damage property (whether it’s yours or not)?
- Do you have a hard time letting go or getting over an offense?
- Does your anger make you want to retaliate against somebody?
- Do you find yourself engaging in dangerous activities to “blow off steam”?
- Does your anger affect your mood the whole day? Does it affect your entire week?
- Do you talk back to authority figures out of anger?
- Are you unable to stop arguing with somebody and often leave or storm out of arguments without being able to resolve the conflict?
There are many other ways to find out if your teen is handling the emotion of anger poorly, but the things above are pretty good indicators of poor anger management skills.
Teen anger management can help your teen out in different ways. Aside from helping him control his response to anger (and making sure he controls the emotion, and not the other way around), it also helps him get to know himself better. Anger management for teens helps young people become more conscious of what makes them mad and why. It helps young people become more thoughtful about why they act the way they act, which is helpful not just in situations where one gets angry but in other important situations as well.
Learning about how to manage anger also helps young people become more proactive about finding solutions. There’s more than one way to approach a problem, and anger management helps teens realize this.
Teaching your teen how to manage response to anger
Managing your response to anger is a habit that you build up over time. Teens may get frustrated if they don’t get it right the first time, but encourage them to continue and persevere. Don’t stop trying and don’t stop improving. Eventually, they’ll get better at it. Here are a few suggestions to help teens out:
- Recognize the warning signs – People who don’t have good control over their emotions often can’t even remember exactly what pushed them over the edge. At times it takes a bit of conscious effort to figure this part out. It’s a good thing that most people notice signs that tell them they are about to lose their temper. They may begin clenching and unclenching their teeth or their fists, they may begin breathing faster, their eyes become narrower, or their ears may start feeling hot. Recognizing these signs can help you consciously stop the rush of emotions that lead to a poor reaction to anger.
- Learn about anger triggers – It’s easy to point to a general reason why you’re angry about something, but sometimes things aren’t as straightforward as they appear. For example, getting cut off in line can cause some teens to have an angry outburst. They can say that “it just isn’t fair”, but if they look closer at their response to this situation, they can probably learn more about why this kind of stressor pushes their buttons more than other stressors do. Learning more about these triggers can help teens resolve deep seated issues that they probably pushed to the back of their minds a long time ago.
- Talk it out – This doesn’t mean you engage the person you are angry at to a shouting match. You may notice that angry people are often times quite unreasonable and hard to talk to. This is because when people are angry, the part of the brain that is in charge for reasoning slows down or shuts off. This is also why it’s pretty easy to make terrible mistakes when you are mad. To stop the rush of angry emotions and restart the reasoning center of your brain, talk about your emotions to someone. It may sound weird, but having a conversation with yourself in the bathroom can save you from a lot of trouble that your bad temper can get you into.
- Journaling – Journaling sounds so old-fashioned but it really is quite therapeutic. Committing your thoughts on paper can be a great way to get it all out in a way that is not hurtful to other people and to yourself. It also gives you a chance to reread what you were so upset about when you’re not mad anymore and you’re in a calmer, more reasonable state of mind. If you’re not into writing, doing any other creative thing would be good too, like composing music, learning a musical instrument, painting, etc.
- Learn calming techniques – For people who have problems dealing with their responses to anger, the principle of counting from 1 onwards works wonders. For some people, breathing exercises do the trick. For some people, thinking back to a happy memory helps them relax and calm down. Help your teen find a calming technique that works for him and encourage him to try it next time he feels himself getting uncontrollably angry.
- Seek help – Poor response to anger makes matters more complicated than they need to be. However, some issues that make teens angry may really be too big for them to handle alone. An example is getting into fights with bullies. Getting adults involved with problems that are larger than what you can handle is more helpful than responding with aggression.