Many parents of teens are used to the sound of slammed doors or raised voices. Teen boys especially tend to fall back on anger when they are feeling emotionally confused or overwhelmed. Experiencing and expressing a full range of emotions is healthy, and experiencing anger is completely normal. It’s when that anger begins to dominate and become unhealthy that steps need to be taken to help your son learn how to handle his emotions safely.
Handling Angry Outbursts
Empathy: When your teen is coming at you in an escalated state, it can be difficult not to meet them at that same level. Perhaps they’ve ignored your multiple requests to clean their room for the hundredth time and now, what started as a simple chore, has turned into a screaming match. Instead of yelling back, try a little empathy. Acknowledge that your son is feeling angry: “It must be frustrating to hear the same thing over and over again.”. It becomes hard to argue with someone who is acknowledging your feelings and agreeing with you. Sometimes empathy can disrupt that anger loop teens can get stuck in.
Take a break: If your son is having an angry outburst and he is physically safe, give him the opportunity to walk away. When they are escalating in anger, it can be helpful for them to take a break before you try to reason with them or talk about what triggered them. When they are experiencing that anger, they are often unable to process or hear what you’re saying. Giving them time to calm down doesn’t mean their behavior won’t be addressed, it just means that they will be in a better place to hear you when you do address it.
Get to the root of the problem: If your son blew up at you because you asked him to clean his room for the hundredth time, talk with him about what was making him so angry about your request. Chances are, he has a different perspective about the experience. While you may feel like he was just ignoring you, he may feel that by asking him multiple times, you’re telling him that you don’t think he can handle things independently. It may have made him feel that you were treating him like a child which felt embarrassing. That embarrassment led to anger, which caused him to lash out. Giving him the opportunity to process what triggered the anger can help both of you better solve the problem in the future.
Set boundaries and clear expectations: Once you’ve identified triggers and he is able to better understand his emotions, create clear boundaries and expectations. Your son should understand what is and isn’t appropriate when he is feeling angry. For example, when he is feeling angry you can be understanding if he is yelling. But he is not allowed to be physically violent or destructive. Set the expectation that if he does act out in those inappropriate ways, there will be consequences. Be sure that he understands what the consequences will be ahead of time and that he can agree to those expectations.
Address mental health concerns: For some teens, anger is a byproduct of mental health struggles. Boys with ADHD or experiencing anxiety may act out in anger when they are experiencing symptoms of their disorder. Meeting with mental health professionals to receive a professional diagnosis will help you create a treatment plan for your son to support him and teach him healthier coping skills.
New Focus Academy Can Help
At New Focus Academy, we help boys struggling to form and maintain meaningful relationships. Our students face problems related to low-processing, autism spectrum disorder, and other neurodevelopmental issues. We teach students methods to improve their functional living skills including self-care, homework, chores, and leisure planning.
We help to empower these students by teaching and practicing social, coping, organizational, and self-care skills in a small, safe environment. As they succeed in the program, they become more confident and self-assured as they deal with day-to-day life. For more information please call (435) 850-4356.