ANGER MANAGEMENT IN TEENS Anger is only one letter short of danger. It’s a powerful human emotion presenting one of the biggest challenges for teens and their parents. But, how do you know if your teen’s anger is getting out of control and what can you do about it? Luckily, recognizing and managing teen anger is possible. Here’s what to do.
1 in 5 teens have anger management issues Boys are 3 times more likely to develop anger management issues than girls. Boys are more likely to express anger physically, girls are more likely to express verbally. Nearly two-thirds of adolescents reported lifetime anger attacks that involved destroying property, threatening violence, or engaging in violence.
ANATOMY OF ANGER
Anger forms in the amygdala. When large amounts of information is sent to the brain, the amygdala produces hormones that create strong emotions such as physical and emotional alarm. When the prefrontal cortex is fully developed, it dictates an appropriate response to the hormones, usually ignoring the amygdala and preventing outbursts of anger. The problem is that the prefrontal cortex doesn’t fully develop until the mid-20s for many individuals. Without a fully developed prefrontal cortex, the under-qualified amygdala often causes teens to act out of control. violent, or angry.
COMMON TYPES OF ANGER DISORDERS
Teenage anger can be short lived or last for extended periods of time. When anger lasts for extended periods of time, it creates anger disorders such as:
Chronic Anger — Chronic anger is prolonged and has an impact on the immune system. It can cause mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Chronic anger affects 11% of teens.
Overwhelmed Anger — Overwhelmed anger is caused by life demands that are too much for an individual to handle.
Self-Inflicted Anger — Self-inflicted anger is directed toward one’s self . It arises from guilt or low self-worth. An estimated 15% of the general adolescent population has self-harmed due to overwhelming feelings.
Judgmental Anger — Judgmental anger is directed toward others . It creates resentment or jealousy. It may cause teens to put down or verbally abuse others.
Explosive or Volatile Anger – Also known as Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), triggers spontaneous excessive anger and “raging”
Retaliatory Anger — Retaliatory anger is directed toward individuals or organizations that an individual feels have “wronged them.” An estimated 25% of anger incidents involve thoughts of revenge.
Passive or Avoidant Anger — Passive anger is diffcult to identify. Teens displaying passive or avoidant anger are aloof and abnormally silent. Teens that cannot express their emotions properly have more extensive histories of aggression than those who express their emotions.
5 COMMON TRIGGERS OF ANGER IN TEENS
40% of teens admit to feeling some sort of anger. Teenage anger is triggered from external and internal situations such as:
- Puberty — Hormones released during puberty create many emotions. Puberty can make teens unpredictable and cause
- Social Confusion — A teenager’s social life is complicated. Friends come and go, romance starts and fails, peer pressure mounts. Each event can trigger anger.
- Oppression — Being a teenager means more independence and self-identification. This can cause conflicts with authority figures.
- Hunger — Teens become angry due to hunger. As blood-glucose levels fall, teens find it diffcult to concentrate and function normally, making them more irritable. diffculties controlling anger.
- Stress — Social situations, school/ peer pressures and after school activities often overwhelms teenagers.
3 WAYS TEENS DISPLAY ANGER
Assertive Teens express anger in a productive, non-aggressive way, getting their point across without harm or threat.
Aggressive Teens display anger by acting aggressive or violent toward people, animals, or objects. This damages relationships and creates work or school problems. It affects % of teens in America, often leading to drug or alcohol abuse.
Passive Teens may ignore anger because it makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. This does not address the problem and increases stress. Passive displays of anger may lead to ulcers.
WARNING SIGNS of aggressive anger in teens Teens who struggle with managing their anger can display the following physical and emotional warning signs:
- Clenching of jaw or grinding teeth
- Increased heart rate
- Stomach aches
- Shaking and trembling
- Elevated blood pressure
- Muscle tension
- Adrenaline rushes
- Playing with weapons
- Frequent physical fights
- Vandalism or property destruction
- Harm toward animals
- Frequent threats toward others
Violence and aggression create short- and long-term health problems. Headaches increase, as does the risk of stroke. Hypertension, social isolation, memory loss, and sleep disorders also occur. Handling anger aggressively may also lead to depression, which affects 20% of teens and is the cause of teenage suicide when left untreated.
HEALTHIER WAYS TO DEAL WITH ANGER
Only 6.5% of teens with aggressive anger management issues receive help. One mindful way of dealing with emotions is called “RAIN” — an acronym for the following steps:
Recognize what’s going on – Consciously acknowledging in any given moment, the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are affecting us. Allow the experience to be there, just as it is –
Accept that you are experiencing the emotion. Reacting to troubling situations by numbing oneself or focusing attention elsewhere does not address the problem. If you don’t accept the emotion, you can’t deal with it in a healthy way.
Investigate with kindness – Observe whats going on physically, mentally, and emotionally. What part of your body feels tense, achy, or hot? What are your thoughts? Feelings? A greater understanding will increase your ability to diffuse the situation.
Natural Loving Awareness – This practice of non-identification means that our sense of who we are is not fused with any limiting emotions, sensations, or stories. Remember emotions are fluid and in constant motion. Nothing else is required for the N part of the RAIN technique other than resting in natural awareness.