Teen Anger Management | Managing Emotions in Addiction Recovery

If you are wondering how to help a teen with anger issues, here are some great ways to teach your teen successful anger management skills.

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Help Your Teen Manage Anger the Right Way

If you are a parent of a child in addiction recovery, you may feel like you are walking on eggshells. For example, have you noticed that your teen is glued to their cell phone? When you ask your loved one a question, are you met with eye rolls and an angry attitude?

Before the teen years, you were probably able to talk with your child about almost anything. However, as your child grows older you might encounter anger problems. When not handled appropriately, a teen’s angry feelings could prevent them from having a meaningful career, thriving relationships, and successful educational pursuits.

Even though anger is a valid emotion, your teen should still know how to handle this feeling the right way. Teen addiction rates are on the rise. If you are wondering how to help your teen with their anger issues, here are some great ways to teach your teen successful anger management skills.

Create a Household with Appropriate Rules

Every household has different ground rules concerning anger. Some families may prohibit loud voices in the house, whereas other families find this mode of communication normal. What are your expectations about how anger should be handled?

Make sure that you create rules that clearly state the appropriate household behaviors, as well as those that will absolutely not be tolerated. Some examples of inappropriate behaviors are:

  • Verbal threats
  • Physical violence
  • Name calling

Don’t forget to establish consequences for not following the rules.

Role Model Appropriate Behavior

When it comes to teaching your teen effective angry management skills, your everyday behavior is everything. Do you yell, swear, and break things when things don’t go your way? If this sounds like you, there are some changes you have to make first before you can expect your teens to control his/her anger.

Lead by example and show your child the right way to manage and express angry feelings. For instance, if you are upset that your loved one didn’t take out the trash, you might tell them that you are really angry that he/she didn’t complete the chore today. Then go for a brisk walk for ten minutes before discussing the consequences.

Explain Angry Feelings Vs. Aggression

Does your child know the difference between anger and aggression? While angry feelings every now and then are completely acceptable, aggressive behavior is simply not ok. Whenever your child feels angry, he/she should know that it’s never appropriate to throw objects, slam doors, or hit people.

Make it clear that verbal aggression will also not be tolerated in the house or elsewhere. The ramifications of such behavior will not only result in at-home discipline but also legal consequences in academic or social settings.

Communicate the Common Signs of Anger

Most teens are also unaware of when angry is on the rise. They may often grow so angry in intense situations that they can’t help but lash out at someone. Instead of letting your loved ones repeat this destructive behavior, why not teach your teen the ways to recognize the physical warning signs of anger?

During a conversation with your teens, pose this question to them “How does your body feel when you are mad?” Let them know that the most common signs of anger include:

  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Flushed face.
  • Clenched fists.

Whenever your teens experience these signs of anger, encourage them to take a break from the situation and breathe deeply for about ten minutes.

Encourage Self-Timeouts

Everyone needs a break every once in a while. The same is true of a teen who is struggling with anger issues. If a conversation is becoming heated, encourage your teen to retreat to their room to gather their thoughts. After 15 minutes, your teen should be in a better frame of mind to continue the conversation.

Demonstrate Assertive Skills

Often times, teens become angry when they feel like others are taking advantage of them. Because of this well-known fact, you should teach your teen assertive skills. For instance, when your teen feels like their rights are being violated, they should know how to speak up for themselves in an appropriate manner. These excellent assertive skills will come in handy when a classmate cuts in front of them in line or a friend consistently calls them names.

Teach Effective Problem Solving Skills

If your teens lack effective problem solving skills, there’s a good chance that they might resort to aggressive behaviors. Whether they are struggling with their favorite sport or trying to sort out issues with their best friend, encourage them to identify a few potential solutions to the problem.

Before choosing the best one, they should thoroughly review the pros and cons of each solution. Don’t be afraid to gently offer your personal thoughts about your teen’s problem while they are brainstorming. The purpose of this exercise is to help your teen see that there are many ways to solve a problem without lashing out. You might even support them as they try to let go of resentment. As time progresses, your teen will grow more confident in their problem solving skills. He/she might even come to you for occasional help.

Share Successful Social Coping skills

There are many socially appropriate ways to handle angry feelings that your teens should know. While some teens may prefer playing a musical instrument, others might enjoy going for a brisk walk outdoors. Some other proven coping skills are:

  • Drawing
  • Cooking
  • Reading

Brainstorm with your teens to identify the specific coping strategies that’ll help them diffuse anger appropriately.

Always Keep Communication Open

The lines of communication between you and your teens should always be kept open. Every day when your teens come home from school, remember to ask them about their day. Throughout the conversation, encourage them to talk about their negative feelings. Allow them to fully express how they are feeling by complaining, disagreeing, and disapproving. Keep in mind that the best conversations are ones where they will not feel criticized or judged. Instead of blaming them for their feelings, consider providing a listening ear and solutions when appropriate. The ultimate goal is to make them feel important and loved.

About the author
Dr. Nalin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY17766), a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist and a Certified Youth Residential Treatment Administrator. Dr. Nalin is the Founder and Clinical Director of Paradigm Malibu and Paradigm San Francisco Adolescent Treatment Centers. He has been responsible for the direct care of young people at multiple institutions of learning including; The Los Angeles Unified School District, the University of California at San Diego, Santa Monica College, and Pacific University. He was instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.
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