10 Ways To Help An Angry Teenager

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated February 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
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Adolescence is an often frustrating or confusing time for teens and parents. As a parent, you may think back to when you were a teenager and remember feeling frustrated. You might have felt angry with a loss of control or changing social issues. 

Teenagers often experience an influx of hormones and new situations they haven't experienced before. These changes may cause feelings of anger to arise. If your teen is experiencing anger more than usual, there are a few ways you can attempt to support them. 

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Be a positive example

It's important to stay calm and model healthy ways of handling emotions for your teen. If you struggle with anger and irritability, your teen may also have a hard time with emotional control. Research suggests that children learn by observing their parents, and these lessons can stick with them into their teenage years. By working on changing your own behavior, you can set an example for your teen and help them develop better impulse control and emotional regulation skills. 

If you struggle with anger management, you might be a positive example by seeking professional help or communicating with your child when you want to do better. For example, you could say, "I'm feeling angry right now, and I'm going to spend some time alone before we talk."

Watch their influences

Look at who your teenager is spending time with. Teens might start modeling the behavior of their friends and those they spend the most time with. If your child hasn't had behavioral issues previously, they may be mimicking what they think is trendy or cool about their friends. Though it's important for teens to gain their own identity, it's good to be aware of who your child is spending time with and the values they are taking on from their peers.

If your teen spends time with others who aren't a positive influence, there may be a reason. Perhaps they relate to a similar stressful experience, or your child is having trouble making other types of friends. Keep the dialogue open around socialization and be a support for your child when possible. 

Additionally, take a look at what content your teenager is viewing, such as movies, television shows, or video games. Too much screen time can also contribute to anger in teens by limiting their ability to think and process emotions. Video games, in particular, can be hyper-stimulating and trigger emotions that are difficult to control.

Set clear boundaries

Your teen might react angrily when you set rules, consequences, or boundaries. While enforcing consequences can be beneficial in some cases, if your teen isn't prepared for your expectations or doesn't understand the reason for the consequences, they may feel angry. 

Set clear boundaries with your teenager. Sit down with them when you feel calm and discuss the rules. Ask them how they feel about the rules and what they think is fair. You don't have to change your expectations for your adolescent, but you might consider their input to understand what makes them feel unheard or disrespected. 

Many parents set limits with their teens, but sometimes it's necessary to be more specific. Clear boundaries and expectations can help prevent your teen's anger from escalating and will make it easier for them to comply. 

Ensure your child understands the consequences of crossing a boundary. If they cross this boundary in the future, you can remind them of the conversation you had and how they agreed to the rules and consequences. Remind them that you love them and care about them and that the rules are in place to keep them safe. 

Actively listen and validate your child

Your teen might seek a safe and validating person to vent to when angry. If you have a healthy relationship with your child, they may want to come to you. Let them know that you're more than willing to listen to them vent when they need to and that you're a safe place to talk things out. 

When your kid talks to you, try not to interrupt. Actively listen by hearing what they say, repeating it to them to make sure you understand, and validating their concerns. Let them know their feelings are valid and you're here to help them learn healthier coping behaviors to handle those emotions. 

Offer guidance on how to better handle intense emotions such as deep breathing, walking away from the situation for a few minutes, and mental distraction.

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Help them look for solutions

When your angry teen is going through a difficult situation, try to help them devise solutions to resolve it. Doing so may teach them problem-solving skills they can use throughout life. 

Encourage them to think about what went wrong in the situation, and guide them toward coming up with solutions that are realistic and practical. While staying calm may be difficult when having feelings of intense anger, help your teen come up with techniques for staying in control. If necessary, involve a professional such as a clinical psychologist who can help them develop their problem-solving skills, resilience, and self-esteem.

Your teen may give out with angering situations and people throughout their life, so learning to handle these situations early might benefit them in the long run. Think about your teen's unique personality and behavioral patterns when thinking of what will work for them. They might not handle every situation exactly as you would, but there could still be ways for them to manage anger healthily in a way that suits them. 

Build them up

The teenage years often include a wide range of emotions. It can feel exciting, frustrating, or scary for a teen to start being exposed to more and more responsibility. Additionally, research shows that teens struggle with body image and personality when exposed to social media. 

Often, social media shows grown adults and edited bodies. Teens may feel angry, scared, or upset when they notice that bodies online don't look like them. They may try to compete with their social circle and become stressed. This can lead to an increase in angry feelings and mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety.

Try to focus on the positive aspects of your teen. If you only focus on negative behaviors, your teen might feel that they do not have any positive aspects. Compliment their appearance, accomplishments, and skill in every area of life. Remind them that their body is beautiful and that social media often paints a false picture of life. 

Allow them space

It can feel challenging as a parent to realize that your teenager is starting to need more space. Your child might want more time alone to think when something is happening. You might find that they become angry if you push them to interact when overwhelmed. 

It is important to remember that anger can be a sign of a deeper mental health issue and it’s essential to give them the space needed, even if at first you feel like it could make matters worse.

This is especially true during the teen years when their brains are still developing. The part of their brain responsible for impulse control, problem-solving, and understanding others’ perspectives – the prefrontal cortex – is not yet fully developed. Therefore, it can be difficult for them to effectively manage their emotions.

After some time has passed, ask them if they're ready to talk or want to let you know what is going on. If they don't open up, don't force it. You might wait longer or tell them it's okay to come to you when they're ready. 

Encourage them to journal

Studies show that journaling benefits your mental health. Buy your child a journal and a special pen and encourage them to write in it whenever they want to. Journaling can be an effective way to sort through thoughts, feelings, and emotions. 

It may also allow your child to take thoughts from their head and put them onto paper. Journaling may teach your child to open up about emotions and understand their feelings. A journal can be a valuable option if they're uncomfortable talking to you or someone else about their experiences. 

They can also use the journal to record warning signs of anger or stress before it gets out of hand and document how they cope with difficult emotions. Helping your child understand and navigate their emotions can be a key part of ensuring their emotional well-being in the long run.

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Look for other symptoms

Depression, anxiety, trauma responses, grief, and other emotions may disguise themselves as anger. If you notice your child is more angry than usual, ask yourself if there may be an underlying cause. 

At times, behavior may be your child subconsciously asking for support. Symptoms of mental health conditions can be distressing and confusing for a young mind, especially during the turbulent teen years. If your child is also experiencing the following symptoms, consider reaching out to a counselor on their behalf as one of many parenting teenagers tips

  • Feeling anxious, worried, or "on edge" most of the time
  • Struggling to complete assignments 
  • Poor grades at school suddenly
  • Difficulty making or keeping friends
  • Frequent crying 
  • Angry outbursts that result in kicking or punching walls or furniture 
  • Self-harm 
  • Wearing only full-coverage clothes during hot months 
  • Hiding behaviors, such as sneaking out or keeping substances in their room 
  • Struggling to clean or complete chores

Refer them to a counselor 

If your child struggles with anger issues, they could benefit from talking to a therapist or attending children's or teenagers' anger management classes. If you're looking for a therapist for your teenager, find a professional who specializes and has experience in working with teens. 

You may look for a therapist in your location or through your child's school. If you or your teen feels too busy for in-person counseling, you might also consider online therapy. Online therapy is available through platforms such as BetterHelp for adults or TeenCounseling for teens. Additionally, studies indicate that online counseling is effective for families experiencing stress or mental health conditions.

Online counseling can provide teens with a safe and supportive space to explore their feelings, learn coping skills, build self-awareness, and develop strategies for controlling anger.

Takeaway

A teenager's anger can feel overwhelming for both parents and adolescents. If your child is experiencing symptoms of anger, you might consider one of the ten above tips. It’s important to understand that teen anger is a normal emotion, but when it becomes too intense or lasts for an extended period of time, it could be a sign of more serious problems. If you feel your child's anger has become more than they can handle on their own, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional who can provide guidance and support. Remember, as a parent, you are your child’s advocate and can help them through this difficult time. With patience, understanding, and the right tools, you can help your troubled teen develop healthier strategies for managing their emotions. 

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