Young people can be downright frightening when angry. But many teens can become violent particularly if they are suffering from a conduct disorder or a psychotic disorder with paranoid delusions. Drugs and alcohol can often cause dyscontrol (the inability to control one’s behavior) that leads to violence.

15852958_sWhile anger itself is a perfectly normal emotion, violence is not. No parent should ever tolerate violence coming from their child. It is dangerous for everyone including the child. Immediate emergency measures include calling 911, restraint if safe and possible or even escape if necessary. Make no bones about it a violent child is dangerous and should be evaluated by a professional immediately. Don’t be fooled into thinking that if the episode passes that reasoning and processing alone is enough. You need a professional’s opinion. Emergency room personnel has training for dealing with these types of emergencies and is a good place to start if you’re in a crisis.

Anger, in general, is a difficult emotion for parents to understand. Should it be expressed, repressed, or displaced into other areas? Part of why it is so baffling is that most parents themselves do not understand their own anger – what it means, and how to handle it effectively. They don’t know how to make sense of the confusing messages in the media that bombard them about kids and anger. Parents worry that angry teens might hurt somebody, hurt themselves, join gangs, deteriorate academically and socially, and end up in prison.

First, some reassurance: although a majority of teenagers commit at least one anti-social act during adolescence, it is rare that they become criminals later in life. More fundamentally reassuring: anger is a perfectly normal feeling. Defined as a sense of displeasure or distress caused by feelings of powerlessness and helplessness, it runs the gamut from mild annoyance and crankiness to actual rage and fury, all of which can be normal reactions. Along with guilt, love, passion, joy, sorrow and excitement, feeling and expressing anger are part of being human. Without the ability to express anger, children and teenagers would be badly endangered. Anger is a great communicator. It signals parents to know when and how to help their child. Angry feelings are reactions to frustration, helplessness, and vulnerability – an alarm that the child needs aid.

The most important thing to remember about anger is that it is a response to feeling helpless. It usually can be understood if parents take the time to try. Anger usually disappears when the sense of helplessness underlying it resolves. Anger leaves no damage when it passes. Since feelings of helplessness are usually temporary and anger, freely expressed, can elicit help, parents are best advised to see it as a constructive feeling, even a helpful and life enhancing one.

Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.