Anger Management For Teens

Does your teen blow up every time you mention rules? Do they threaten themselves or others? Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells in your own home?

The teenage years can be a turbulent time. Teens are trying to find how they will fit into the world. It is usual for teens to desire more freedom. They will push boundaries, and can sometimes get out of control. Anger is a normal emotion. How people react to anger can say a lot about their emotional wellbeing. Anger can build over time if someone is passive or has not established solid boundaries with those around them. In other cases, teens can seem to go from 0-60 and lash out impulsively.

Like everyone else, teens experience complex emotions but often don’t have the coping skills to deal with those emotions. This article examines anger management for teens,  some of the common problems associated with anger, and anger management treatment options. This article is meant to serve as a guide for families and help them address anger management issues.

 

What do Anger Management Problems Look Like in Teens?

The first step in addressing anger management issues is identifying what an anger management problem looks like. Some teens have a more challenging time coping than others. When your teen’s anger becomes a problem, it can be expressed in many ways.

Internal Anger Expression

Poor self-esteem, negative self-talk, fixed mindset, and depression.

This is especially common when teens avoid confrontations and let the anger build up over time. This can look like sarcastic or backhanded comments but can also present indirectly with things like “forgetting” to do chores. This type of aggression can be toxic in a home.

Adventure therapy helps teens experience success and develop coping skills to help them control their anger | Aspiro Adventure Therapy
Adventure Therapy success story anger management for teens | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

External Anger Expression

Yelling, screaming, blaming others, and throwing things. Teens struggling with an anger problem can also become passive-aggressive.

How an anger management problem presents can vary widely depending upon the individual. It is also essential to understand that anger is generally a product of more profound emotional distress. This is critical because addressing the deeper emotion is often key to treatment.

Reasons Behind Teen Anger

Anger is often a sign that someone is struggling to process or cope with a more profound emotion. Anger is a common reaction for teens when they don’t know what to do or how to solve a problem. Teens can struggle with this more than others because they often lack experience or coping skills to cope with complex emotions. They also often lack the awareness of how to identify when something is a problem.

As teens develop, they gain more self-awareness. Learning to be self-aware can help teens cultivate self-control when they are angry. A recent study found that anger was especially common among men and younger adults and was associated with decreased psychosocial functioning. This can have serious consequences. Teens need to learn how to control their anger instead of letting their anger control them.

Almost 15% of children and teens suffer from depressive symptoms, and depression sometimes takes on the form of anger or irritability. Further, teenagers who have experienced trauma of some kind are more likely to react to situations with anger. Several psychiatric disorders can lead to increased anger outbursts for teenagers too.

These Disorders Include:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Personality Disorders
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)
  • Substance Abuse
  • Learning Challenges like Dyslexia or ADHD
Choose adventure therapy for teens who struggle with anger management | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

A recent study found strong associations between anger and bipolar disorder, drug dependence, psychotic disorder, borderline, and schizotypal personality disorders. Researchers also found that 1 in 12 adolescents met the criteria for Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). This disorder is diagnosed when a person repeats sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior, or angry verbal outbursts out of proportion to the situation. Other triggers can be grief and loss of a loved one or family issues like divorce or financial struggles.

While the reasons behind anger management issues can vary, one common theme is that they negatively impact a teen’s chances of success.

Wilderness Adventure Therapy Anger Management For Teens | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

What Anger Management Issues Can Lead to For Teens?

Anger management issues can often disrupt teens’ lives and knock them off track. Teens who struggle with anger management even face an increased risk of several mental health concerns.

Increased Risk of Mental Health Concerns That Include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance Abuse
  • Eating Problems
  • Problems With Relationships
Adventure therapy can help teens manage their anger and in turn, help them develop close relationships with their peers | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

Teenagers who have trouble managing their anger tend to have fewer friends, more behavioral problems, and lower school grades. Studies suggest that excessive anger suppression or expression may be associated with unhealthy lifestyle choices early in life. As you can see, teenage anger management can become a problem as their anger issues cause them to feel more isolated.

In this section, you’ve learned about anger management problems in teens. This is a common issue that can knock teens off track. You’ve learned what anger management problems can look like, some of the reasons behind these problems, and some of the consequences that anger management issues can lead to for teens. While this is all great information to know, the next step is identifying whether your teenager has an anger management problem.

How do you Know if Your Teen Has an Anger Management Problem?

Anger management is a serious issue for many teens. The first step in addressing an anger management issue is recognizing that it is a problem.

There are several signs and symptoms to be aware of when trying to spot anger management problems in teens. These can vary depending upon the individual teen. It is crucial to be able to identify the signs of a potential anger management problem so that you can address it early on and effectively. 

The list above is not meant to be a comprehensive list of signs and symptoms of an anger management problem, but it is a start. Each teen is unique, and their anger management problems may present differently. It is important to be aware of these signs before the issue escalates from what might seem like a phase into a serious problem. Take the quiz below to help you identify if your teen has anger management issues.

Signs The Your Teen May Have Anger Management Issues:

  • Dysregulated Mood
  • Irritability
  • Explosive or Self-Destructive Tendencies
  • Pacing
  • Aggressive Posturing
  • Explosive or Self-Destructive Actions
  • Verbal Outbursts
  • Physical Acts of Aggression
  • Disciplinary Issues at School
  • School Suspension
  • School Underachievement
  • Isolation
  • Poor Self-Esteem
  • Loss in Friendships
  • Passive Aggressive Behaviors

Quiz -Does Your Teen Have an Anger Management Problem?

Is your teen quick to lash out when asked to do simple chores?
Does your teen punch walls, throw things, or hurt themselves when they are angry?
Does your teen seem to lose control during arguments?
Does your child get into physical fights with siblings?
Are you worried about your getting violent outside the home?
Do you feel scared or threatened by your teenager?
Have you thought about calling the police when your teen has gotten angry?

If you answered yes to three or more of the questions above, take the online assessment below to see if wilderness therapy is right for you!

Parenting Do's and Don'ts for Angry Teens

Parenting is a hard job these days. It is even more challenging if your teen is showing signs of having an anger management issue. Learning about common mistakes parents make can help avoid some heated arguments. It can also open up more communication for your child to express the root cause of their anger.

5 Common Mistakes Parents Make With Angry Teens

When you come home after a long day of work and find yourself in another heated argument with your teen, it can be hard to keep your cool. In these times, it is important to remember that parents can make a few common mistakes when communicating with angry teens.

Getting angry at your teenager will only escalate the situation. The interaction’s goal should be to connect with your child and help them process their emotions, not to win an argument.

Doing this during an argument will only make things worse. When consequences are given, this should be in a calm environment where the parent can clearly explain the consequence and the events leading to that decision. Consequences given in anger are likely to cause your child’s anger to increase.

There’s no need to get into a power struggle with your son or daughter in the heat of the moment. Taking a cell phone out of their hand or blocking them from leaving a room may escalate the situation.

When arguments arise, everyone wants to come out on top and for others to see their point of view. It is natural to want the last word, but this does not often lead to a mutual understanding. Instead, this can further perpetuate a conflict.

When an argument arises, make sure to stick with the facts and the problem at hand. It is easy for parents to get caught up in the moment and bring up past issues. Especially when it comes to your teen doing something that has broken your trust, the goal should be to de-escalate your teen so that a productive conversation can occur.

Avoiding these mistakes is easier said than done. Parenting teens is hard work, and no parent is perfect. Having a few go-to strategies is a great way to help your teen control their anger.

Tips And Tricks To Help Your Teen Control Their Anger

Coming up with strategies to help your teen control their anger on the fly can be challenging. Planning out an overall parenting strategy is key. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

  • Be a role model for your teen. Managing your anger teaches your child how to do the same.
  • Give your teen time and space to calm down. Anger is a powerful emotion that can prevent someone from acting rationally. Anger is also generally a short-lived emotion. Just giving your teen time and space can let the intense emotions and angry behavior burn out.
  • Avoid power struggles. Power struggles between you and your teen are a recipe for disaster. Setting clear expectations can help mitigate power struggles.
  • Encourage your teen to communicate about their emotions. Emotional literacy is often an area where teens struggle. Being able to express one’s feelings appropriately keeps them from building up. Some easy ways to express emotions include journaling or statements starting with “I feel…”
  • Set up rules and consequences in advance. Rather than coming up with a consequence on the fly during a heated exchange with your teen, lay out the ground rules and the consequences for breaking them clearly and in advance. This way, your teen has a better understanding of how their actions will impact them.

If your teen is still struggling with anger management and you can’t seem to help them through it, it might be time to consider getting some professional help.

Parents choose Wilderness Adventure Therapy to help their children learn to manage their anger | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

Knowing When to Get Help

If issues with anger management for your teen progress to the point where they are disruptive to their lives, it may be time to seek outside help. Types of professional help can vary from anger counseling to anger management programs.

Knowing when it is time for an intervention to treat teen anger management issues is not a science. Parents are usually in the best position to know when to make this decision.

10 Anger Management Warning Signs That Your Teen May Need Professional Help

There are several additional warning signs that your teen might have an anger management problem. It is hard to know as a parent when something has gone from a “phase” to an anger problem. Here are some warning signs that could indicate that this issue with anger management is more than a phase.

Adventure therapy helps teens develop anger management skills | Aspiro Adventure Therapy
  1. Difficulty learning new tasks
  2. Friend loss
  3. Throwing or breaking things
  4. Lacks accountability
  5. Are overly critical of others
  6. Threatening to harm themselves or others
  7. Harming themselves or others
  8. Irrational thinking or behaviors
  9. Criminal activity
  10. Substance Abuse

This section has provided a guide for recognizing if your teen has an anger management issue. If these warning signs are ringing a bell, then your child might be struggling with their anger. Parenting a teen with an anger management issue is difficult, but there are things that you can do to help your child. Next up are some helpful parenting strategies.

Anger Management Treatment For Teens

If your teen is struggling to manage their anger, despite all of your best efforts, it could be time to seek out professional help. If you have decided to seek outside help for your teen, there are a couple of important concepts to understand.

First, anger is often a sign that more is going on. Since anger is often more of a symptom than a cause, there isn’t a one size fits all kind of treatment for teens struggling to manage their anger. 

Teens and young adults can learn to manage anger through Wilderness Adventure Therapy and become happier in their daily lives | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

One consistent element of most treatment addresses how to express anger appropriately. Since teens are inexperienced in expressing complex emotions, they have to be shown how to do so. This coaching is best done in an environment that allows them to try out new coping skills and then evaluate how well they worked.

Second, coping skills vary from person to person. One common coping skill is taking some time and space to cool down. The goal of any anger management treatment is to help your son or daughter learn how to process their emotions. When they learn to process emotions they then can start gaining control of their actions. While eliminating anger altogether is often unrealistic, anger can be managed.

A therapist or other mental health professional will often integrate a variety of modalities into a teen’s anger management treatment plans. These can include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness therapy, experiential therapy, and expression therapy. Treatment plans are most effective when tailored to the individual.

Types of Treatment for Anger Management

If you are considering getting outside help for your teen, here are a few common treatment types for a teenager with anger issues.

Teens and young adults can learn to manage anger through Wilderness Adventure Therapy and become happier in their daily lives | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

Counseling 

Meeting with a professional trained in anger management counseling is a common treatment for teen anger management issues. Anger management counseling can take place in an outpatient or inpatient setting. They can also address any underlying mental health issues that your teen may be struggling with.

Stress Management Therapy

 Teen’s lives are increasingly stressful. With an ever-increasing number of social, academic, and professional inputs, teens are getting overwhelmed. This stress can often lead teens to struggle with anger management. So therapy aimed at reducing stress through relaxation techniques can be effective. This type of treatment can increase a teen’s ability to cope with new stress. Stress management therapy can give your child essential tools to address underlying issues that lead to anger management problems.

Experiential Therapies

A new and challenging environment can often be an anger trigger for teens. The stress can be frustrating and lead to angry outburst. Experiential therapies expose teens to novel environments and activities in a controlled way. They go through this while they are under mental health professionals’ supervision. With coaching, teens can learn to overcome their emotions. This can be an essential part of an anger management treatment plan.

Expressive Therapies

Expressive Therapies can help teens cope with anger productively. Channeling feelings of extreme anger into more creative activities can be effective. These can include things like dance, storytelling, art, or music. This type of therapy can often be an effective coping mechanism and help teens find a way to express their individuality.

Families are getting the help they need for teens with anger management issues | wilderness adventure therapy | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

All of these types of therapy can take place in a variety of settings. These include anger management counseling, outpatient therapy sessions, or more intensive inpatient programs. One of the most effective options for treating anger management in teens is Wilderness Adventure Therapy.

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Wilderness Adventure Therapy For Angry Teens

Wilderness Adventure therapy programs like Aspiro Adventure can be an effective teen anger management program. For one thing, wilderness adventure therapy removes teens from their environments and allows them to focus on improving themselves. Wilderness adventure therapy also provides the space and time for teens to process through their angry feelings in a healthy way and under mental health professionals’ supervision.

Programs like Aspiro Adventure use a dynamic approach that is research-based. Their comprehensive approach includes cognitive behavioral therapy, stress management therapy, experiential and expressive therapies. Aspiro provides accurate mental health assessments, so you can be assured that your teen is getting the help that they need. These therapeutic methods create an environment of growth and learning that will help get your teenager get back on track.

Exposure to novel environments and activities at wilderness adventure therapy programs has also been shown to be an effective way to challenge teens. Exposing a teen to a difficult or new task can provoke some of the challenging anger management behaviors. In the right setting, this can give teens the chance to practice new coping strategies.

Further, overcoming seemingly impossible challenges, like summiting a large mountain, has been shown to improve resilience, grit, and self-efficacy. These are all critical elements to healthy teen development and are vital for overcoming an anger issue.

In all, wilderness adventure therapy is a smart option for teen anger management treatment. Wilderness adventure therapy’s unique environment provides customized treatment plans implemented by mental health professionals. If your teen struggles with anger management, you might want to consider Aspiro Adventure as a treatment option.

“My son went from angry, depressed, and unaccepting of his challenges to happy, and motivated to continue working on his social skills.”
Parents learn the best ways to support their teens who are struggling with anger management | Aspiro Adventure Therapy
Aspiro Parent

Helping Teens Overcome Anger Issue

Many teens struggle with anger management. Anger problems may look different depending upon the teen. It’s important to realize that anger is usually a sign that someone struggles to process and cope with a more complex emotion. Early recognition of anger issues in teens is key to avoiding further mental health issues.

The first step in helping your teen with their anger issues is identifying that there is a problem. Knowing that there is a problem means being able to spot common signs and symptoms. These include dysregulated mood, irritability, and explosive or self-destructive tendencies. It’s also critical to keep an eye out for warning signs like irrational behavior, criminal activity, and substance abuse. Once you know that your teen has an anger management problem, you can try to manage it at home. This means avoiding common mistakes. These include escalating the situation and implementing strategies like avoiding power struggles. If you are struggling to manage your teen’s anger at home, it may be time to consider professional help.

There are many treatment options available, from counseling to wilderness adventure therapy. This article provides a basic guide to understanding teen anger management problems. It emphasizes what you can do as a parent to help your child overcome them. If you are considering professional counseling and think that wilderness adventure therapy might be a good fit for your teen, reach out to the Aspiro Adventure admissions team. They are available any time to answer all of your questions. 

About the Author

  • Josh Watson, LCSW
    Josh Watson, LCSW
    CMO

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Josh Watson, LCSW
CMO

Also specializes in: crisis de-escalation / anxiety resolution / frustration tolerance / verbal de-escalation / CBT/DBT / interpersonal relationships/leadership development

Josh has been working with adolescents, young adults, and their families since 2001. As an original member of the Aspiro Leadership Team, Josh has fulfilled several roles at Aspiro including Clinical Wilderness Therapist, Clinical Supervision, Admissions Director, Strategic Development, and currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer. He is passionate about carrying out the mission of Aspiro and creating the best possible experience for our clients. When Josh is not at work he enjoys traveling, cooking, outdoor adventure (of course!), golf, and spending time doing just about anything with his wife and two daughters.

Josh Watson, LCSW
CMO

Also specializes in: crisis de-escalation / anxiety resolution / frustration tolerance / verbal de-escalation / CBT/DBT / interpersonal relationships/leadership development

Josh has been working with adolescents, young adults, and their families since 2001. As an original member of the Aspiro Leadership Team, Josh has fulfilled several roles at Aspiro including Clinical Wilderness Therapist, Clinical Supervision, Admissions Director, Strategic Development, and currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer. He is passionate about carrying out the mission of Aspiro and creating the best possible experience for our clients. When Josh is not at work he enjoys traveling, cooking, outdoor adventure (of course!), golf, and spending time doing just about anything with his wife and two daughters.