Why are teenagers so angry? You are not the only one asking this question. It’s not unusual for teenagers to experience intense anger. During puberty, teens’ emotions can be particularly volatile since they are undergoing such rapid physical, mental, and social change, as well as making many important decisions.
But anger doesn't always stem from the same source. While it can occasionally be a healthy way for teens to express their feelings, there are times when it can be indicative of a mental health condition. Sometimes, explosive, violent, and frequent outbursts of anger may need to be treated with anger management techniques.
Here, we’ll explore why your teen may be angry so often along with various ways to manage it.
Why is My Teen So Angry All the Time?
Teens may seem angry very often, but this is usually no cause for alarm. During your child’s teenage years, some increased moodiness is normal and to be expected. There are many hormonal changes that occur during this period, so teens react to triggers and process emotions differently than they used to.
Teenage years are also very different from adulthood. For days or even weeks, your teen may stew over something or someone who hurt them. And yes, depending on the circumstances, your teen being angry often can be normal. However, there too much anger can point to signs that your teen is not feeling and expressing this emotion in a healthy way.
What Causes Teen Anger?
Let’s take a look at the causes of anger in teenagers. These may include but are not limited to the following:
- Being a victim of bullying
- Social pressures
- Low self-esteem
- Conflict within the family
- Experiencing a traumatic event (e.g., the death of a loved one)
- Substance abuse
- Adoption issues
- Mental health struggles (e.g., depression, anxiety)
Signs Your Teen’s Anger Might Be Out of Control
There are some signs that your teen might have anger issues. However, there are also indicators that these anger issues might be out of control:
- Excessive conflict with parents, teachers, siblings, and/or peers
- Physical aggression or violence
- Frequent emotional outbursts that may involve screaming or lashing out
- Irrational thinking and behavior
- Making verbal threats
- Cruelty to people or animals
- Criminal activity
How Can I Help My Teens Manage Their Anger?
So, how can you help your teen manage their anger? This is not an easy task for any parent or guardian. Anger can be a very intense emotion, and trying to help your teen with it may sometimes lead to conflict or misunderstandings. If you are struggling with helping your teen manage their anger, then here are some tips that may be useful:
1. Set boundaries and expectations
Teens who are defiant and angry need clear rules that are connected to obvious consequences when they are broken. Establish these guidelines and requirements when things are calm. Talk with your teen about what will happen if the aforementioned rules are breached. Tell your teen that these guidelines are there to protect him or her from danger and keep them safe. Show your child how much you care. Even angry teenagers want to feel their parents' love and concern for them.
2. Don’t add to heated situations
Avoid turning arguments into full-blown fights during tantrums. More important than winning the fight is helping your teenager in regaining control over their emotions. Even when teenagers seem out of control, we must maintain our composure. It's easy for parents or guardians to get furious when teens are disrespectful and angry. This is a normal response that can start a downward spiral. Try expressing to your teen that although you may not like that they are angry, you understand and love them no matter what.
3. Encourage healthy habits
Encourage living a lifestyle with healthy habits, including physical activity, a balanced diet, and adequate rest. This is one of many effective coping skills that teens can use to manage their anger. Your teen will benefit from having a healthy lifestyle pattern because it promotes positive behaviors. This entails establishing regular bedtimes and mealtimes, as well as a fixed time to check in with your teen.
Ensuring your teen gets enough sleep is most important. In addition to contributing to stress, mood swings, and irritability, sleep deprivation can affect one's weight, memory, focus, and ability to make decisions. Teenagers should sleep for 8 to 10 hours per night. Many parents find it useful to have teens turn in their electronics an hour or two before bedtime in order to remove distractions and accomplish and remove distractions.
4. Support your teen’s hobbies
Teens who engage in hobbies can better control their negative emotions. Parents can encourage their children to take up an activity that will allow them to express themselves, even when they are angry. Sports, weightlifting, journaling, music, yoga, mindfulness & meditation, cooking, art, and even horse riding are great hobbies to take part in. Whatever it is your teen decides to try, it is best to be supportive.
5. Set a good example
By setting a good example, parents may help teens develop healthy coping mechanisms and emotional control. When your teen becomes furious, be sure to respond in a healthy and appropriate way. You should also maintain as much composure and reason as you can, even if your child is particularly difficult and obstinate.
6. Teach them coping skills
Teach your teen adaptive coping techniques when they're calm and composed. Anger management for teens may involve techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, writing in a journal, and knowing when to take a break. Learning how to reassess situations is also an excellent approach to managing and preventing angry feelings. Avoiding the subject or repressing emotions are examples of maladaptive coping mechanisms that should not be encouraged because they are linked to unfavorable consequences in adolescents. Instead, your teen can use helpful anger management coping skills, such as flexible thinking and creative outlets.
7. Reduce technology use
Parental guidance on technology should extend beyond just bedtime. Any teen who uses technology, social media, or screens too much may develop unhealthy behaviors. In addition to harming one’s sleep, too much screen time can also make a teen more irritable. Parents need to keep an eye on their teen's technology use to make sure they aren't watching or playing violent video games, movies, or music, which can lead to violent outbursts and behavior [*].
When Should I Be Worried About My Teen's Anger?
Anger is a normal emotion to experience and express. However, it can become unhealthy for teenagers when the level of their anger does not match the cause. It may also be worrisome if your teen’s anger is out of control or becomes violent. Frequent bouts of anger are also something to watch out for.
When your teen starts to exhibit angry behaviors that may seem disproportionate to the situation, then it may be time to consult a mental health professional.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is anger in boys more common?
You are not alone if your teenage boy has started displaying angry or aggressive behaviors. Teenage boys may need better outlets if they are experiencing anger or aggressiveness due to high levels of testosterone.
What is the best therapy for anger management in teens?
One of the most successful methods for teen anger management is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Teenagers who use CBT are able to recognize their triggers, develop coping mechanisms, and modify their attitudes and actions in response to their angry feelings.
What is healthy anger in teens?
Healthy anger is conveyed with little to no vindictiveness. It is not about getting even, gaining control, or hurting someone else, whether verbally or physically. Teens who know how to express anger in a healthy way communicate it clearly and effectively. They also do not sit with their angry feelings for too long, nor do they think about it frequently after the event has occurred.
The Bottom Line
While some tension between parents and teenagers is typical during the adolescent years, there comes a time when anger transforms from a feeling into a persistent issue that needs to be addressed right away. For parents, this process can be incredibly taxing, challenging, and distressing.
No matter how helpless a parent may feel or how much misery you and your teen are going through, things can and will get better with the right care and support. Your child can develop more effective coping mechanisms, self-assurance, and the skills they need to control their anger and find happiness and success in life.
- Shao R, Wang Y. The Relation of Violent Video Games to Adolescent Aggression: An Examination of Moderated Mediation Effect. 21 February 2019.