Dealing with Anger

Anger is the emotional response to frustration. Teens can respond to anger by physically lashing out or by bottling up their rage. Neither way is healthy, and parents need to teach their children how to work through their anger constructively.

Dealing with Anger

Since you have known your child his whole life, you can easily pick up on his warning signs. Your son's powers of perception may not be so keen, and he may be unable to immediately identify anger when he feels it. Having the ability to recognize anger in himself is a very important skill. When he loses his temper, let him cool off and then talk to him. Ask him if he realized what he was doing when he lashed out. Doing this can help him recognize his own anger in the future, which is the first step to coping with it.

Fact

Teen anger may come out as rage or sarcasm, indifference or quietness. Anger does not cause destruction unless it is dealt with improperly — such as when it is allowed to escalate into hostility or aggression, when it is ongoing, or when it's kept in and not addressed.

Teens deal with anger in different ways. There isn't one right way to respond, but your son needs to realize that there are multiple ways to deal with his anger. Suggest that he:

  • Cool off by physically removing himself from the situation

  • Stop and try to communicate, which includes listening to the other person

  • Realize that his thought process may be compromised by anger

  • Use relaxation skills, like counting to ten

  • Exercise if he feels anger or frustration building up; the release of endorphins can make him feel better

  • Listen to music to help him relax and sort through his feelings

When Anger Is a Problem

Anger can be a problem when it seems pervasive in your son's life or when it is mismanaged. If teaching him the skills to deal with his anger doesn't work, it may be time for professional help. You may also need professional help if your son is in danger of harming himself or others, if his anger leads to depression, or if he is destroying property, hurting animals, or engaging in other worrisome behaviors.

Bottled-up anger is a real problem. Suppressed anger can lead to other problems for your son, including depression, hostility, and cynicism. If you see that your son is constantly being critical, or is passive-aggressive or depressed in general, it is time to talk to your health care provider. There are classes available for anger management that are designed to help teens overcome anger issues and move forward.

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