Anger in Children and Teens Explained
Anger in children and teens is an upsetting emotion with the potential for long-term damage if left untreated. While crucial to spot early, parents may be unclear of the cause or triggering factors and left frustrated regarding how best to help their child.
Failure to recognize, understand, and resolve this anger can lead to chronic mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.
Anger Management in Children
All children deal with anger on a daily basis. Thinking about it as a child, there is a lot to be angry about. Elder people telling them what to do, not being allowed to get what they want, and they fail at many things they try…it’s frustrating at times. As an adult we are able to deal with these setbacks in a socially acceptable way, however a child doesn’t have the ability or the understanding to deal with their actions when they become angry, in an acceptable way.
Now it’s perfectly normal for a child’s emotional development to feel anger however it’s the way they handle their anger that becomes an issue at times. Some children when they feel angry, throw tantrums, become abusive, scream, kick and bite. In these instances, it’s possible a child has a loss of self-control and at this point needs help in managing their anger.
Anger Management in Teens
Anger is typically expressed differently depending on the age of the child. Adolescent teenagers show their anger in more grown-up ways, most likely using their developed language and motor skills.
The behaviour can be extreme and potentially includes “engaging in acts of substance abuse, misconduct behaviour, assault, verbal threats, and sexual behaviour”
To help, the caregiver, parent, teacher, or therapist must understand what triggers the anger – whether normal or out of control – and how to teach coping mechanisms to avoid or calm an angry episode. The chemical composition of the teenage brain is in a constant state of change, with research suggesting angry behaviour is associated with a lack of neurotransmitters
As there are many potential triggers for teenagers, it is important to observe whether related behaviour tends to occur at a particular time, such as:
- After school
- When hungry or tired
- Following changes to routines
- After viewing particular types of TV shows, movies, or online content
Anger-related behaviour in Children
Anger in children can be a sign of an anger issue caused by trauma, family dysfunction, or conditions like ADHD or OCD. Children need to be educated about how to deal with and express their anger. Professional intervention and medication can help improve some cases of uncontrollable anger in children.
Symptoms of anger in children include:
- shutting down
- experiencing an outburst
- becoming frustrated
Treatment for managing anger in children varies depending on symptoms and causes and can include individual counselling sessions, small groups, and behaviour management programs.
Reasons, why a child may seem angrier than others, include:
- seeing family members arguing
- having friendship problems
- being bullied
- struggling with schoolwork or exams
- feeling stressed, anxious, or fearful.
- coping with hormone changes during puberty.
It’s important to help children identify the signs their body gives them when they are feeling angry and explore what other emotions they may be feeling.
Anger-Related Behaviour in Teens
Adolescent teens are considerably more independent than younger children and express their anger similarly to adults. Behaviour can be irritable, defiant, and high risk, involving various unhealthy or unhelpful acts, such as:
- Behaving rudely and disrespectfully to adults
- Getting into altercations and fights with other students
- Fits of rage, losing their temper, and becoming highly vindictive in what they say
- Behaviour motivated by payback and revenge
- Engaging in substance abuse
- Declining academic standards; falling behind the mean for their age
Note that while frustrating for close family and friends, anger that is out of control rather than normal can indicate serious and deep emotional issues
Each angry response begins with a triggering event. It might be another person’s actions, an event, or even a memory
Then, several irrational thoughts start to form, followed by a series of negative emotions.
If nothing happens to break the process, physical symptoms kick in, such as:
- feeling sick
- potentially out-of-control angry, aggressive, or destructive behaviours may begin
While it sounds like a complicated process with several stages, it can escalate from trigger to outburst surprisingly quickly in the young or someone with limited self-control.
Managing Child Anger
Once you find out what’s causing your child’s anger issues, you can manage them. This involves treating the underlying issues. This might include medication in some cases, such as for kids with OCD or ADHD.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often helpful for kids with anger issues, no matter what other diagnosis they have. CBT helps them understand their patterns and regulate their emotions—all in a very child-friendly manner.
Regardless of the root cause, behavioural changes for both the child and parents can help. Parent management techniques (PMT) teach parents how to handle their child’s behaviour more productively. It’s focused on positive reinforcement rather than punishment. In addition to PMT, Working with us at Alegna Solutions Psychology Practice, we can help you develop new communication skills and conflict-resolution techniques that can benefit the whole family.
Addressing anger problems in kids often isn’t a quick fix. However, there are some simple steps you can keep in mind that might help minimize outbursts:
- Be consistent: This includes consistency with your expectations and routines.
- Don’t give in: Keep consistent with consequences so that a child learns that an outburst will not result in the child getting their own way.
- Avoid triggers: If you know that getting ready for bed or turning off the television triggers your child, prepare them with ample warnings and consistent routine.
- Stay calm: No matter how angry your child is, provide a calming presence. Don’t try to interact with them while they’re having a tantrum. Instead, wait until things have calmed down to talk.
- Praise good behaviours: Make a big deal out of good behaviours, like going to bed without an outburst. On the other hand, ignore undesirable behaviours.
we can assist in personally tailoring better behaviour management style for your family and help you memorise these steps to work on your child or adolescents personal behaviours, emotions and relationships, whether the root cause is with family members or people outside of the home.
Managing teenage anger
Thankfully, there are many ways that teenagers can learn to combat or reduce their degree of anger, including:
- Developing healthy and meaningful connections with a parent or guardian
- Forming well-developed social skills
- Having sufficient sleep is crucial at any age. Poor sleeping habits significantly affect our emotions, how we control them, and our overall mental well-being. Teenagers between 13 and 18 years old should get around 8.5 hours of sleep per night
Learning and adopting new skills in:
- Problem-solving — Coming up with more than one solution to a problem.
- Anger management — Thinking before taking action and finding creative or physical outlets for anger.
- Self-reflection — Understanding and reframing situations to make a better assessment of events and the environment.
- Emotional awareness and regulation — Understanding the emotions that impact us and being capable of managing reactions to them.
- Assertiveness – Identifying when to concede ground and when to push for a desired outcome.
Communicating, expressing feelings and worksheets are all resources that we can provide for your teenager to help promote practical advice and better emotional management skills. Language skills (becoming more able to talk about and explore feelings), and self-regulatory skills (improving control over emotions, impulse, and anger). Sometimes your family needs a little push in the right direction to help resolve problems that may arise, that is why we at Alegna Solutions Psychology Practice can help you. We have the qualifications, compassion and mindset to improve the lives of your family.
In Summary Anger Management is Required
When a child or Teenagers outbursts interrupt your family’s daily life, it can be a sign of an anger issue. Often, frustration and distress are the cause of anger issues. These can be caused by trauma, family dysfunction, or conditions like ADHD or OCD.
If you believe your child or teen has anger issues, book an appointment with us at Alegna Solutions Psychology Practice. Request a psychological evaluation with us, we can help diagnose the underlying cause of your child or teens anger. Then, we can help create a treatment plan with your family. This may include psychology for both the child or teen and the parents. Not doing anything could end in your child or teen growing up with some irreversible issues. So, book with us today.