Anger Management Strategies For Teenagers

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated February 27, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Anger can be a normal emotion, but it is often crucial for everyone, including teenagers, to learn how to manage it in a way that’s both effective and healthy. A few anger management skills for teens can include being self-aware regarding the source of their anger, determining several potential solutions to the problem at hand, thinking before acting, engaging in creative or physical activities to express and relieve anger, learning calming exercises, employing distractions, and getting help from a therapist. If you are the parent of a teen who is experiencing issues with anger, you may benefit from speaking to a therapist online so that you can determine how best to support your child. Here are some useful ideas and better ways to help an angry teenager.

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Are you seeking help managing your teen’s anger?

Determine the anger’s source

Teenagers may begin to show signs of an angry outburst at a moment's notice and may not take the time to recognize anger or consider the source of this emotion.

Helping them cultivate self-awareness can be the first step in a successful anger management strategy for teenagers.

When your teen begins to feel so angry that they have frequent emotional outbursts toward others or themselves, you might let them know that they need to ask themselves, what is making me so mad? Can I trace this anger to a specific moment, and if so, what is it? When you can identify what is making you angry, you are often better able to remedy the situation.

It can also be important to remember that a teenager experiencing anger attacks may be feeling this anger as a secondary emotion, masking others such as shame, grief, or guilt. If the cause of these negative emotions is not identified or resolved they can lead to further issues like verbal threats, physical violence, or substance abuse.

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources. Support is available 24/7.

Determine several solutions to the problem

For some teenagers, anger management can be challenging, as their first instinct is usually to react in a way that causes emotional or physical damage or goes against the authority of their parent figure. To combat this, a teenager may need to know that they could also choose to take a more responsible route. 

For example, rather than acting out, your teenager could sit down with you and talk about their own emotions and why they feel the way they do. Alternatively, if they do not like something you have done or said, they could choose to pursue a solution that allows them to get their emotions out in a healthier way so they can move on from the situation without so much anger. 

Another thing that may help a teen with anger problems is understanding the anger cycle. This cycle is often expressed as a visual aid by therapists to identify how anger develops over 5 stages: trigger event, negative thoughts, emotional response, physical response, and behavioral response. By recognizing the signs of angry behavior from the start, they may be able to manage emotions that arise at the trigger event.

Think before taking action 

Teenage anger is not typically accompanied by reason. Anger tends to be impulsive, and angry teens are often impulsive as well. The teenage brain may not consider the consequences of their actions when they act out, but the reality of the situation is that there can be consequences for every action, both good and bad. Uncontrolled anger issues in teens can lead to a number of negative outcomes.

Before your teenager decides on a solution to their problem, they may need to think about the consequences of each of their chosen solutions and consider what could happen if they follow through. How will the situation end? Will everyone in the scenario be happy with the resolution? Is it in their best interest to choose that solution, or will it only get them in trouble?

Having consequences for certain actions can be a great incentive to keep a teenager from acting out, and paired with the realization that each action has consequences, it may make it easier for them to realize the gravity of the situation. When they've had experience thinking before acting, teenagers may gain more experience implementing coping skills and expressing anger healthily and effectively.

Find a creative or physical outlet for anger

We often attribute some of the best works of art to artists who put their raw emotions into the piece. Anger can make for truly evocative pieces, and teenagers can channel their anger into something creative to better work through and process it. 

For example, teens could express their anger by writing down their emotions in a journal or turning their anger into a story. They could also draw, paint, dance, write a song, or express themselves in countless other ways. 

If you have a teenager who isn't very artistic but more physical, they may choose instead to express their anger either through team sports or through individual exercises. For example, running, hitting a punching bag, or engaging in other strenuous exercises can all be great ways to let go of pent-up aggression and release feel-good endorphins.

Learn calming exercises to help with tension and anger

While it can be important to express anger productively, it may also be important to learn how to manage anger and prevent it from becoming a problem. Many try to pursue suppression to keep their anger in check, but emotions may need to be acknowledged and expressed. It can be important that when it comes to anger, teens are not encouraged to ignore their feelings. Instead, you might let them know that it is okay to let their emotions out on their own until they calm down enough to go about their day without feeling the need to lash out at others.

Likewise, you could equip them with relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation exercises, and other calming activities that may help them think more clearly. You could also let them know that they can vent to friends and family to express their anger healthily. There can be plenty of ways for teens to release and control their anger without taking it out on others.

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Are you seeking help managing your teen’s anger?

Find distractions that are enjoyable and relaxing

It can be hard to feel angry when you are happy and enjoying yourself, and this can be a lesson that many teenagers can use to take a break from their anger and momentarily distract themselves. Whenever your teen feels angry or agitated about something, you might tell them to take some time to do something that brings a smile to their face and relaxes them. 

Tyler Bennett, LPCC
Tyler was terrific with our family. We found him at a time when we felt like our teenage son wasn't the respectful, easy spirit he normally is. He was able to help us use better communication tools and feel like we were back in touch with our son.”

After they've finished their exercise, they may have forgotten about what angered them in the first place, indicating that it wasn't a big deal, to begin with. If anger is still on their mind, this may prove that the source of the anger needs to be addressed so they can move forward.

Anger management is generally about having tools to make emotions more manageable and less overwhelming. Along with some of these strategies that you can use at home, there may also be anger management groups that can give your teenager the chance to connect with peers having the same challenges. You could also allow them to call an anger management hotline if they feel that they want to handle their issues on their own rather than discussing them with family or friends.

Online therapy may help you cope with your teen’s anger

If your teenager frequently has angry outbursts, it can be stressful for you as a parent. Therapy can be a valuable tool in helping you learn to relieve your stress, but in some cases, you may find that traditional in-office therapy isn’t a convenient option for you. You may wish to consider online therapy, where you can connect with a therapist from the comfort of your home (or anywhere you have a stable internet connection) at a time that fits into your schedule.

According to this study, online therapy can be highly effective in treating the effects of stress and anxiety that teen anger may evoke. You may also speak to an online therapist for some coping skills for teens out there when it comes to dealing with their anger. If you believe therapy would be helpful for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out for the support you deserve.

Takeaway

It can be highly beneficial for teenagers to learn how to manage their angry feelings in a healthy way. Several anger management techniques can include:
  • Cultivating self-awareness in relation to the source of the anger
  • Identifying multiple potential solutions to the issue at hand
  • Thinking before taking action
  • Expressing themselves creatively
  • Engaging in physical activities to relieve anger
  • Learning calming exercises
  • Distracting themselves
  • Attending an anger management group
  • Calling an anger management hotline
  • Getting help from a mental health professional

It can be difficult for parents to know how to help their teenagers work through anger effectively. Speaking with an online therapist can be helpful in teaching you the best ways to support your teenager.

Learn to separate anger from behavior
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