January 30th, 2015

10333221_sDealing with your teenager when they are angry or having a violent “anger emergency” is not easy. Here are some steps to take when an explosive situation turns towards violence.

If your teenager gets so angry that you feel threatened by an “anger emergency,” do all you can to stay with your child and restrain him whatever way possible. In this situation, try not to criticize, although you should employ whatever means necessary to protect yourself and any others present. When you feel threatened, you may need to call in extra help, such as another parent, or, in rare cases, the police. Remember, you do your teenager no good by allowing him to rant and rave uncontrollably, especially if he is physically violent. Restrain him but do not berate him.

Fortunately, most teenagers do not reach the “anger emergency” point. With most teenagers, the aim should be to understand what message the teen’s anger seeks to convey. Understanding cannot be achieved by lecturing, chastising, or intimidating, but rather by compassionate listening and questioning. You want to find out what is troubling your teenager and to locate the trigger for the anger. Some teens can tell you why they’re angry while others cannot. You may need to play detective, trying to piece together what you know from your child’s actions, activities, and friends. Try to come up with a working theory to present to your child about why he might be angry. Observing, listening, and questioning your child are key.

Your primary goal should be to relieve the teenager, to ease whatever situation has induced the anger in the first place. You might suggest a solution to his problem or offer direct assistance. You might have to look at your behavior and how you might be able to keep from triggering your teen yourself. You may have to intervene at school or with local clubs to mediate the situation.
Lastly, if your teenager’s anger just does not go away despite your hard work in trying to detect the cause and ameliorate the underlying causes, then professional consultation is warranted.

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.