Everyone feels angry from time to time, and it can be healthy to express this anger. Talking about our feelings is a good thing. Anger is a normal emotion to experience, and we all cope with it in different ways. However, anger can damage relationships and have negative consequences when anger becomes aggression.
People often feel ashamed or guilty after becoming very angry. These feelings can then contribute to increased anger and frustration, making it a complex cycle to break.
What causes anger in teens?
Teenagers can feel anger for the same reasons as the rest of us. Maybe the store sold out of their favorite snack, or someone pushed them in front of them in the queue. But on top of all this, teens experience a whole range of other issues that can make them feel angry.
Teens go through a lot of changes, including an increase in hormones. These hormones can contribute to significant mood changes that are difficult to manage. The changes in their bodies might also be making them feel frustrated.
Perhaps when a boy’s voice breaks, his friends make fun of him, which makes him frustrated and angry. Or there are suddenly spots on their face that will ruin the school dance. It can feel like a very confusing and upsetting time for many kids.
There are also changes happening in the brain as it continues to develop. Impulse control and planning are amongst the last areas of the brain to develop in teens, making feelings of anger very difficult to control. By this time, kids haven’t yet learned many techniques to control their emotions. This, and the lack of impulse control, can often lead to lashing out.
Many teens also struggle with social anxiety or feelings of depression. These issues can add to angry feelings if they are not managed professionally as the teen continues to struggle.
Then, of course, there are the general difficulties of being a teenager. For example, there is an expectation amongst peers to behave or look a certain way, which can add to stress and create angry feelings. In addition, schoolwork may feel very stressful, particularly if the teen finds it too challenging. This could cause them to lash out or become angry while doing their work.
And, as if that isn’t all bad enough, then you have Mom shouting at you to clean your room when you want to meet your friends.
What is anger management?
As teens don’t have the skills to manage their anger, it can be helpful to try specific anger management techniques to control anger issues.
In some teens, feelings of anger can result in physical or emotional harm to others or intense feelings of guilt in the teen themself. As a result, they, or their parent, may recognize that changes need to be made to control their anger.
Before starting, it can be helpful to set goals or list the reasons you want to make changes. For example, maybe you shout at your teacher or peers at school and are getting into trouble. On the other hand, perhaps you as the parent want to build better communication with your child that feels calm and constructive.
Whatever the reason, remember that it takes time to make changes. So, be patient and keep practicing whichever strategies you learn.
Coping skills for anger management
Self-awareness takes time to learn but is a crucial skill for all to develop. Recognizing your own emotions and reactions to things can be very useful in learning to manage intense feelings. Often, when expressing anger outwardly, there are other feelings involved.
For example, you might feel upset about your team losing a soccer match. Later, someone asks you how the game went, and you get cross, shouting at them. In this scenario, you aren’t angry at this person, but your emotions came out as anger because you were upset about the soccer when they brought it up.
Learning self-awareness can help you to recognize these feelings and manage them differently. Understanding where the root of the anger lies can help prevent outbursts at others. It also helps people to empathize with you if you can explain what you are feeling.
Using the right words
When you’re feeling angry or emotional, it can be tough to express yourself adequately. Using phrases such as “You always…” or “You never…” sound accusatory and can cause people to feel defensive. Instead, try saying, “When you do…it makes me feel…”. This can help open up a conversation and start problem-solving.
Anger management isn’t just reducing your anger but learning how to communicate about it and reducing the impact on those around you. Most people will be willing to help you find solutions when you’re struggling if you can use the correct language with them.
Often we say things we don’t mean when we’re angry, which can cause negative consequences. If you find it challenging to change your language at the moment, you could try practicing by writing things down before you say them. With this technique, you can think about the response first and ensure it conveys the intended message.
Eventually, if you keep practicing this, you will be able to stop yourself from reacting angrily and use positive language instead. Gaining this self-control is useful to help you manage your anger and the impact it can have.
If your feelings of anger become overwhelming, it can be helpful to find a way to distract yourself. Different distractions will work for other people, so consider what usually relaxes you. Maybe you can go for a walk or play a video game. These options could help you positively release your tension and help to calm you.
Alternatively, you could listen to music that soothes you. Try making a playlist that you can listen to when you feel your anger rising. It might help change your focus if you can listen to songs you enjoy and may also brighten your mood.
If your anger is difficult to control or results in serious consequences, there may be deeper issues to resolve. Consider seeking help from a mental health professional or talking to a parent or trusted adult.
Talking about your issues can help you feel less overwhelmed by your emotions. Engaging in therapy can also help you learn coping strategies, so you have some tools to manage your anger.
Anger management activities
Angry feelings can also cause physical symptoms, such as tensing your body, grinding your teeth, and short, shallow breathing. A great way to manage these physical symptoms is relaxation. For example, you can use deep breathing to help your body relax.
Similarly, yoga and meditation can also be helpful relaxation techniques. They can help you to focus your mind on your body and not your emotions while continuing to use calming deep breathing techniques.
Exercise is a great way to manage anger, as it releases endorphins that can lift your mood. In addition, your physical and emotional well-being often impact each other. So, feeling good after exercise can help you feel better emotionally, and this can help you feel less angry.
Engaging in regular exercise can help to reduce stress, help you sleep better, and help your moods feel more stable. These will help your physical and mental well-being and give you a better chance of controlling your angry feelings.
Also, exercise such as boxing can be a great way to release any pent-up angry feelings. Releasing them in a safe environment, such as this, can help you to feel calm when difficult situations arise.
It can be helpful to write down how you are feeling to help you process and understand your emotions. Keeping a journal also makes it easier to track how you have been feeling and notice any triggers.
If you record when you have felt angry, you might notice it happens at a similar time each day. For example, maybe you always feel constantly in the morning. Perhaps you are not sleeping well enough or feel anxious about the day ahead. Understanding where your anger starts can help you make positive changes to your lifestyle.
Keeping a record can help with problem solving and make it easier to recognize and manage your anger.
Drawing or painting are very useful techniques to express yourself without the need for words. Some people find this easier to engage with than to discuss how they feel. This can also be useful for parents to ascertain how their child is feeling.
Try the “surfing the angry sea” technique in which you draw yourself riding a wave. The size and appearance of the wave can express how that anger feels to the child. For example, if it is a huge wave, it could mean that the anger feels overwhelming and scary.
Playing sports as a team can help develop sportsmanship and improve communication skills. This can also help to reduce negative feelings, as exercise releases endorphins. In addition, it can be a good way for teens to socialize with people from different backgrounds and further develop their empathy.
Playing as a team can help emotions feel less overwhelming if shared with the team. If your team wins, you can celebrate together. And if your team loses, you can all support each other in managing the feelings of disappointment.
Remember, anger is a normal emotion to experience. However, with suitable anger management activities, teens can learn to control their anger and utilize skills to express themselves appropriately.
If you are a parent of a child who has difficulties managing anger, try to set clear expectations of what is appropriate in the house. Ensure you are clear about what will not be tolerated, so boundaries are defined.
If you are a teen struggling with managing anger, try some of the activities outlined in this article to help you learn some anger management skills. See which exercises work for you to maintain healthy relationships at home and school.