Anger is a secondary emotion caused by the need to protect oneself from vulnerable, primary emotions – such as fear, rejection, humiliation, or hurt. The adolescent first feels the primary emotion, but because it makes them feel vulnerable they use anger to cover it up. The roots of anger can often be found in past circumstances that have caused the feelings of vulnerability. The emotions may be from neglect, abuse, or another trauma. Some teens get agree just because they do not get their way.
Most angry adolescents have deeper struggles and hurts which are the reasons for their inappropriate expressions of anger. Remembering that anger is an emotion, and not the behavior that results from the anger, is important. Every adolescent may deal with anger in their own way. Some may express anger with defiance, non-compliance, and disrespect; while others may repress their anger, disengage, and withdraw. It can also be shown through prejudice, gossip, sarcasm, and passive aggressiveness. Without intervention, their anger and the behaviors that result can have a lifetime impact. Anger can make it difficult for an adolescent to think clearly and cloud their judgements. It can destroy relationships, negatively impact their schooling/careers, breakdown physical health, and ruin futures. It can have a huge impact on the family and can lead to harming others or themselves.
Again, the behaviors are not the real struggle that the teenager needs help with. Their anger and these behaviors will continue to escalate without finding and dealing with the root causes of the anger. Parents become frustrated and confused by their adolescent’s anger and negative behavior if they don’t understand this. Sometimes it can lead to a pattern of reactive behavior by both the parents and the child. Therefore, a child behaves out of their anger and the parents react negatively to only reinforce unhealthy reactive patterns. As parents, the focus should be placed on the deeper roots rather than the outward expressions of their anger. Parents can challenge themselves to respond rather than to react to their child’s behavior. By being calm in the face of anger, a parent is modeling the behavior they seek. Parents should also strive to be listeners and attempt to understand the situation from the adolescent’s perspective. These moments will open opportunities for the adolescent to express the real reasons of why they are angry. The most important thing a parent can do is show their love and care for the child, even in their anger.
Teenage anger can lead to many unhealthy outcomes – including mental health concerns, addiction, and self-harm. Parents may want to seek treatment if they feel their adolescent’s anger is getting out of control. Treatment for teenage anger often involves individual therapy to identify root causes and guide them to healthier expressions of anger. It may also include group therapy and family therapy. Parents may be provided training to help in dealing with their angry adolescent. Medication may be used to supplement therapy, as well.
Promise Village: Home for Children works with angry adolescents daily. The program’s unique combination of individual, group, family, equine, and milieu therapies provides children with many avenues to overcome their anger. Promise Village seeks to find the deeper reasons for their anger to bring long-lasting change. It uses positive reinforcement and the Promises Stage System to build children up, while also guiding and correcting inappropriate expressions of anger. Promise Village: Home for Children has had much success in helping children overcome their anger and find healthier life outcomes.
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