Is This Teen Anger Normal?

Wondering if your child’s teen anger is normal or out of control? Well as children become teens, they begin to take on their own persona. Teen emotions often have no filter during this time and teen anger can go the roof. While it’s nice to see a move towards independence, many parents wrestle with whether their teen’s anger is normal for this stage of maturity or whether they need to take action to help their teen express themselves in a healthy way.
Do you know what is triggering their anger? Do they feel like misunderstood? Are they overwhelmed by the expectations of a job, school, peers, or family? Do they feel like you disrespect them when you have to say no?

To answer these questions, it may be helpful for you to observe your teen’s mood and how it changes throughout the day and week. Arguing with parents about things like staying out later, driving, and dating are normal, but arguments shouldn’t cross over into violence, truancy, or legal trouble. Take special concern if you see signs of:
• Obsessions with violence towards people or animals
• Frequent drug or alcohol use
• Sudden interest in weapons or violent content
• Self-harming
• Any mention of suicide
Make a point to spend one-on-one time with your teen to keep the lines of communication open and to stay connected. Try to understand what’s driving their anger and meet them halfway if you can. It helps to communicate to them with eye contact and warm smiles despite their grunts and shrugs.

How To Help Your Child’s Teen Anger

You can help them to notice anger as it erupts and encourage them to regulate it without becoming too upset yourself. Teach them to listen to their bodies for signs of a racing heartbeat, muscle tension, or adrenaline rush. Encourage them to think before they act and learn to walk away. Winning an argument is not always the best outcome. If you’re not having any success, a therapist can help your teen with anger-reducing therapies like changing their self-talk and using distractions like music, writing, or drawing.
Try to remember that the lessons teens learn are preparing them for adulthood. Expect some opposition and rejection and be prepared to give them some space. One of the best things you can do is to model how to manage teen anger appropriately, even if they don’t catch on right away.

About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

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