Is Your Teenager Angry, Explosive And Highly Reactionary?

Has your teenager started acting verbally or physically angry or aggressive toward his or herself, you or others? Are these new behaviors alarming, impulsive and risky? Have there been problems at school, with friendships or with siblings? Has your teen been pushing boundaries by ignoring curfew, disrespecting other’s property or refusing to follow set rules? Does he or she appear highly irritable, overreact or struggle to communicate thoughts and feelings in ways that don’t include anger? Are you feeling helpless in your ability to control your child? Do you wonder if he or she will grow out of this dramatic, scary behavior or if things will continue to get worse? Are you fearful that if it continues, your child may do something that causes lasting harm to his or herself or another? Do you wonder what happened to your happy child and question what you did wrong? Are you desperate for a clear strategy to help your child navigate his or her emotions in healthier ways?

The teenage years are, by their very nature, a struggle. Teenagers, for the first time, are charged with the challenging tasks of figuring out who they are and how they fit into the world. Their internal and social landscapes are constantly changing, and acclimating to those ongoing and new experiences can be difficult, scary and overwhelming. It’s kind of like an indoor cat that is let outside for the first time. Like the cat, your teen is able to feel and experience things that weren’t once possible. For some teens, the overload of new emotions is expressed through anger. It is also important to note that for some teens, anger is actually an indication of underlying depression. A thoughtful assessment can help to determine that.

Some Degree Of Anger Is Common In Teens

Feeling anger is a common part of the human experience, and teens are no exception. Parents should almost expect to see some anger from their teenager – and to be often surprised by them as well. Anger is more common in boys than in girls, and teenagers who have recently experienced a loss, traumatic event, significant life transition or have a family history of mood disorders may be at increased risk for developing anger issues.

While all teens experience some kind of anger at some point, some teenagers need extra help developing better coping skills. These teens can benefit from learning to understand and express their emotions. If your attempts within the home to calm your child are not working and the anger is ongoing and appears to be getting worse, getting help immediately can be critical. Thankfully, working with the right therapist during the formative teenage years can not only provide immediate relief for your teen and family, but also help your teen develop healthy, long-term, life strategies.

Anger Management for Teens Can Be Extremely Effective In Helping Teens Understand And Manage Angry Emotions

There are many highly effective techniques, skills and strategies that can be used by teens to manage angry feelings, impulses and behaviors. A big piece of this is self-awareness work, which all teens can benefit from, but is particularly important for teens who are prone to expressing feelings through anger. Your highly trained and experienced BPS therapist can work with your teen to help identify the root causes of his or her angry feelings. Your teen can begin to understand these feelings, sense them surfacing and learn better ways to express them. Through practice in therapy, he or she can learn real, concrete strategies to apply in the moment when the adrenaline response is triggered. Your teen can also learn and rehearse calming techniques to help control impulses and manage his or herself when anger arises. Techniques and skills to manage anger are some of the easiest to learn and apply. With help, your teen can become more strategic and thoughtful about how to express emotions and interact with others.

If conflict is high at home, your therapist may suggest that you work with your teen in a family therapy setting. A family therapist can help you and your teen create agreements, which can be an extremely useful strategy to break out of the power struggles that may be occurring within your relationship. Co-creating agreements can defuse patterns of conflict, decrease anger and empower your teen to make better personal decisions. A family therapist versed in anger counseling for teens can also offer you support and guidance as you learn how to create and enforce positive boundaries. Your therapist can provide strategies that you can use to support your child as he or she learns how to express feelings in ways that don’t include anger. You can also learn more effective and positive methods to communicate and connect as a family.

The teenage years are an opportune time to learn life-long, healthy coping skills, techniques and tools. With help, your teen can learn how to process and express complex emotions in ways that aren’t explosive or scary. In time, your teen can become angry less often and, when provoked, develop the skills to work through the angry emotions more efficiently.

But, you still may have questions or concerns…

Couldn’t my child’s behavior just be part of normal teenage angst? Shouldn’t he or she grow out of it?

You may be right. It is true that some teenagers will grow out of acting with anger and learn better ways to express emotions. But, it’s also just as true that, without help, some won’t. For those that don’t, it’s highly likely that they will continue to develop unhealthy and angry ways to handle emotions and that their behavior will worsen over time. The ways your teen learns to handle his or her feelings – in angry or healthy ways – now can have a significant impact on how he or she will view and interact with the world throughout life. Addressing anger issues now can have lasting power. It is very possible for your teen to develop healthy strategies to handle emotions now before bad behaviors become long-term patterns.

My teen is absolutely refusing to go to anger management counseling.

It’s really hard to know what to do when a teen needs and refuses help. Involving your child in the process – giving him or her the power to choose the therapist – can be an effective approach to introducing the idea of therapy. You can tell your child that he or she is going to anger management counseling – not negotiable – but offer the opportunity to interview and select a therapist.

If your teen’s refusal continues, you may want to seek parenting advice from a family therapist. Family therapists are trained to offer parental guidance and support. They can help you navigate difficult barriers – such as your teen’s refusal for help – and strategize different and more effective ways for you to communicate with your teen.

It’s also important to note here that an adamant refusal for therapy may be indicative of a deeper problem and a higher level of intervention may be needed. A family therapist can also help you make this determination.

I think that my teenager needs some expert help, but I’m not sure we can afford it right now.

This is your child’s life and wellbeing. Addressing your teen’s anger issues now may prevent a host of life-long problems and patterns from occurring as he or she leaves your home and enters adulthood. The investment in your teen’s emotional and social health through therapy may not only address his or her immediate anger issues, but also keep the related problem behaviors from getting worse. Teens with anger issues can be at increased risk to get in trouble with the law or be involved in dangerous situations. An investment in therapy now can help prevent destructive behaviors and unhealthy coping mechanisms from becoming entrenched.

Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with teenagers and anger management or who they or their teen couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct a increase the likelihood of a good fit, BPS offers an online therapist directory and match you with a therapist who is trained and experienced in working with teens and anger and whose personality is a good match for you and your child. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to your child, yourself and your family may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine your child learning how to express emotions ways that don’t include anger both now and in the long-term and ask yourself what that is worth.

If money still is an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find a resource to help offset cost.

To increase the likelihood of a good fit, BPS offers an online therapist directory to help determine what your teenager’s specific issues are and ensure a good match between you, your teen and a BPS anger management for teens specialist in terms of personality, style and expertise.

Check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you and your child with a therapist who has expertise working with teenagers and anger issues.


BPS therapist Dan Fox, LPC helped create the content for this page. Dan is a licensed professional counselor who has been working with teens on anger issues since 2002. Dan’s diverse, adolescent-focused background also includes teaching high school, running a summer camp, school counseling and serving as director of September High School.