Managing Teenage Anger: Getting Real
by John Moyer, LPC
Everybody gets angry sometimes. Angry teens often get a bad rap as destructive people that most of us want to avoid. Let’s talk about normalizing anger as a perfectly healthy emotion that can get out of control, just like any other emotion.
When you’re a teenager, it is simply a more challenging time for managing feelings because by its very definition adolescence is about being in the process of intense change. We know how stressful change can be. But we can learn skills to handle intense emotions better. Nobody is perfect. So let’s first dispel the myth of perfectionism and the idea there’s one best way to manage anger, because there isn’t. That’s a fantasy. The reality is there are several different skills that can help us get through difficult times which in turn could decrease the risk of uncontrollable anger and rage.
Managing intense emotions is about reducing risk, but we also know part of being a healthy teenager is about taking risks, challenging boundaries, questioning authority, and exploring as a way to discover who we are. We learn over the course of time how to become more adult-like. But it doesn’t mean we can’t learn how to do those adult-like things in smarter, more effective ways now. Of course, one of the best ways is to have someone model that kind of behavior for children before their teenage years. But few of us were lucky enough to have great models for dealing with intense emotions in safe and effective ways. (Remember, there’s no such thing as perfect parents or caretakers.)
Here are 4 examples of what teens can do to improve their anger management skills:
- Be aware of your own emotions.
Practice mindfulness exercises of being in the moment. Be watchful for thoughts too far in the future or stuck in the past. This will help you deal with your current emotions before they grow too big to manage.
- Develop stress management skills.
Learn how to cope with daily stressors each day before they build up. This will more likely help you to reduce the risks of feeling overwhelmed and out of control.
- Increase conflict resolution skills.
Learn how to deal with conflict in safer and more effective ways by practicing simple conflict skills like stating it from your perspective instead of accusing others.
- Attend an anger management group
Interacting with other teenagers, hearing their views, and sharing your own is a great way to learn from each other.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb
New Directions Counseling Services understands the need for managing anger more effectively as a teenager. For that reason, we will be offering a Teen Anger Management Group starting Thursday, January 21, 2016 and lasting for 10 sessions.