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Help your teenager cope with their anger management problem

Mark Myers LCSW, CADC Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor Myers Counseling Group

Lets face it, having to deal with an angry child is not something most parents look forward to in their job description. There is certainly going to be challenges in addressing it. The important consideration to keep in mind when addressing teenage anger issues is how you, as a parent, approach it. In teenage years it is not unusual for a teenager to need master emotions, especially anger. Parent’s need to help their children master this emotion. If this behavior is allowed to continue, in most cases it will not go away. It becomes a established behavior that could jeopardize family safety and the success of your child as an adult. Following is some expert advice for parenting a child with anger management problems.


Do set clear expectations for your youth

A parent needs to be consistent and clear with their child regarding expectations and behaviors. If a child believes he/she is allowed to act a certain way one time, and at a different time is confronted by the same behavior, that inconsistency is detrimental for the family. If consistency and clarity are an issue, I would suggest presenting these expectations in writing and posting them. This will also create more structure for the youth, which is important in dealing with this challenge.

Do demonstrate good role modeling

Children learn as much, if not more, from parent role modeling. It is more important to act the way you are expecting your child to act. If you don’t, your child will either dismiss your message or follow the lead you are presenting behaviorally. Parents need to be mindful on how they express their anger and emotions.

Do make sure that it is anger and not manipulation

There are some adolescents who act angry in order to get parents to back off. If parents are intimidated by their children, most likely the consequences will not be enforced. This could be assessed by being aware of your own responses to your child's anger outbursts. If this is creating an environment where you are afraid to enforce rules because of your child’s reaction, there is a likelihood your child is using anger as a way to avoid accountability.

Do make sure it is truly an anger issue

Children may be experiencing a drug problem, peer issues, victimized by a bully, or struggling with a mental health issues. Determine if there are other challenges your child may be experiencing. The behavior you see may be more reflective of another issue rather than an anger management problem. The anger may be a symptom of an underlining issue. This could be determined by having your child drug screened, talking to teachers, or seeking out professional help.

Do focus your energies productively

It is important to understand your child’s investment in change is most likely different than yours. Talking about why they need to change is less effective than creating motivation to change by presenting consequences. Parents, at times, focus more on talking about what their child should be doing and how wrong their behavior is. This is attempting to get a child to buy into a value (importance of managing anger) that he or she may not be mature enough or invested in enough in it. The primary focus should be on expectations and consequences for their actions.


Do not do this on your own

At times, a teenagers issues may extend beyond the resources the parents have. Seek out advice and support from others. This would include religious institutes, schools, other parents, doctors, and therapists. Most communities have support groups offered through various channels. Most newspapers will advertise these. See if there are groups that are offered for anger management. These groups or services should include a parent component. This will create additional support and ideas for the parent in addressing this problem. Allowing other parties to help share in addressing these concerns, will most certainly help.

Do not work against each other

It is important to present a united front. If children see their parents divided, they will use this to their advantage. Parents working together need to talk to each other about strategies and responses to their child’s anger. A united front is not only helpful for the teenager, but for the marriage as well.

Do not lose control with your anger

When you are responding to your child’s anger outburst, your ability to control your emotions is extremely important. If you lose control this not only diminishes your child’s ability to gain control over his/her emotions, but also can lead to physical confrontations.

Do not ignore safety issues

Anger is certainly an emotion that could escalate into something serious, such as violence. If your child is making physical threats or gets physical, this must be addressed right away. Do not dismiss it as just a comment or just a push. The first time this happens, parent’s response needs to be quick and decisive. Call the police to maintain safety in the house, especially if there are younger children present.

Do not back off

This does not mean going toe to toe with your angry adolescent. It means that you are not allowing your teenager to gain control over your house. Anger is an uncomfortable emotion to be on the receiving end of. However, if you avoid addressing it, there is more likelihood of this behavior becoming more established, as well as escalating.

Jumping cartoon

When a person expresses their anger, that is a normal human emotion. To expect people not to get angry is not realistic (unless you have a lobotomy). It is how we present our anger that is important. Most people learn how, when, and where to express their anger that would not incur consequences. There are some teenagers that may not have the insight or motivation to do this. Their anger outbursts could have significant impact on them as well as their family. It is important to create an environment in your home that has clear expectations regarding anger, and how to appropriately express it. If not addressed, these behaviors could continue into adulthood and other relationships.

More expert advice about Raising Teens

Photo Credits: Fight by Flickr; Philippe Put; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Mark Myers LCSW, CADCLicensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor

Mark Myers received his Master of Social Work Degree from Loyola University. He has been practicing in the helping profession for over 20 years. He is an Illinois Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Counselor. ...

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