How to deal with angry teenagers

By Lee-Ann Jacobson
Teens commonly challenge authority and express anger.

Parenting teenagers is undoubtedly a challenging task at best. As teens mature they inevitably begin to test boundaries and question the authority exerted by their parents, which can make for a trying time for all parties involved. It is usually possible, however, to minimise the severity of confrontations between you and your teen and maintain a healthy dialogue even when he or she seems angry or defensive. In rare cases, it may be necessary to find a professional for your teen to talk to. But more often than not, teen anger is a normal part of the maturing process.

Understand that your teen may be irritable due to sleep deprivation.

Understand the possible root of the problem. As teens develop, they experience hormone fluctuations which can cause erratic mood swings, including anger. In addition, teens often experience what doctors refer to as DSPS, or Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, which causes sleep deprivation. According to Science Daily, "Teenagers' morning drowsiness is often caused by out-of-tune body clocks." Since many teens have trouble going to sleep until late but must get up early for school, they often don't get the rest they need and are irritable as a result.

Set an example of effective anger management for your teen.

Make it clear what your expectations are when it comes to speaking respectfully to each other, and set an example. You cannot reasonably expect your teen to control his anger when you are unable to do so yourself. Crisis says a good rule is "any family member who yells, screams, hits, bites, pushes or throws something in anger will take a mandatory time out for twenty minutes, then apologise, and then discuss the problem." Having such a rule can pre-empt teens from acting out in the first place and is fair because it applies to the entire family. By holding yourself to the same standards, you can teach your teen how to deal with his angry feelings in a mature and civilised way.

Be supportive. Although angry teenagers may be frustrating to deal with and less than pleasant to be around, the kids who make it through this phase successfully are usually the ones whose parents continue to try to understand them. According to Psyche Central, "Parents who hang in, who continue to express love and concern ... and who stubbornly refuse to give up are the parents who generally manage to save their kids." Realise that just like the teething and colic phases of infancy, this too shall probably pass.

Seek professional help if all else fails. In some cases, your teen may need to talk to a school counsellor or therapist to solve his anger problems. Teens who resort to violence or destructive behaviour are possibly suffering from mental health issues or acting out due to hidden drug addiction or personal trauma. If this is the case, assure your teen that you are there for him and want to help him be the happiest, healthiest he can be.

About the Author

Lee-Ann Jacobson has been a freelance writer in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, since 1994. She has written for several publications, including "Vancouver Magazine" and "National Chart Magazine." She holds a Diploma of Journalism from Langara College and is completing a Bachelor of Professional Arts in communications at Athabasca University.