Because adolescents experience so many rapid changes and face significant life decisions, their emotions can be especially volatile. As a parent, you have likely been a target of your son’s anger more than you’d like and wondered about the source of this hostility.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Anger in Teens
Anger and irritability may sometimes be appropriate responses if your son is not doing well in school or making new friends. Still, a young man who lacks any other outlet for his feelings may fail to express himself in healthy ways. Anger becomes unhealthy when it’s disproportional to the circumstances at hand or turns into violence.
Lashing out could be an adolescent boy’s go-to response when he feels stuck or is having trouble understanding and expressing complex emotions. Often, boys grow up believing they shouldn’t express any emotions other than anger, and that reaching out for help will make them look weak. This harmful mindset is called toxic masculinity, and it leaves many young men emotionally stunted.
Adolescent Anger Management
Anger management training should start at home. As a parent, you have a responsibility to help your son find ways to process his feelings without resorting to aggression. For example, you can teach him that it’s OK to cry or talk about his problems if he is upset about something. More productive ways to work through anger include exercising, meditating and doing controlled breathing exercises.
Use these tips to help you become a more supportive parent to an angry teen.
- Choose your battles wisely. Don’t hold grudges over minor arguments.
- Use positive reinforcement instead of negativity. Find ways to frame criticism that do not sound overly judgmental.
- If you find yourself getting upset and frustrated, take a moment to count to 10 or walk around the block. Meeting anger with anger will make matters worse.
- Set healthy boundaries, and ensure your teen understands the consequences of overstepping those limits.
Is Your Teen Always Angry?
If your teen feels angry all the time, you should also know that frequent emotional outbursts may be a symptom of a severe underlying problem like:
- Anxiety or depression
- Substance abuse
- Unprocessed trauma
- Learned behaviors due to family dysfunction
A therapist can teach your son to manage his emotions more appropriately if he has been using anger as a stand-in for all his other feelings. You may also wish to pursue therapy as a family if your teen’s anger results from dysfunction or multigenerational trauma.
How to Get Help for Your Teen and Family
At ARCH Academy, we believe family involvement is essential in successfully treating teen substance use disorders. In our single-gender environment for adolescents aged 14 to 17, we provide a blend of proven therapies with an accredited academic program that allows teens to continue pursuing an education while participating in treatment. Contact us to learn more about healing your son and your family.