Managing Anger: Understanding and Overcoming Anger Issues in Teenagers
Updated: Jun 29
While leaving a shopping mall with my mom and sister, we bought three soft ice creams from a shop near the exit gate. However, when I noticed that the cone of my ice cream was slightly soggy, I threw a fit and demanded an additional empty cone. My mom refused due to the crowd, which led me to lash out, swear, and cry. Eventually, my mom gave in and got me the empty cone, but my sister seemed disappointed by my behavior.
As I lay in my bed at night, replaying the incident in my mind, I was filled with a sense of unease. I didn't want to continue being the kind of person who would lash out at others and struggle to control emotions. It became clear that my sudden outbursts of unhealthy anger were becoming problematic. I couldn't understand why I was becoming so moody and irritable, especially towards my mom. It felt like my emotions were always at the surface, and even minor inconveniences would trigger intense reactions. I realized that I needed to find a way to manage my emotions and not let them control me.
That's when I decided to seek help. I talked to my school counselor and started seeing a therapist. It wasn't easy, but over time, I learned how to manage my anger and express it in healthier ways. And the things I came to know about this issue can be helpful to many other teenagers, people who have a teenager in their life, or me. Let's explore this topic:
Anger management is a significant challenge for teenagers, and it can have harmful consequences for them and those around them. Adolescence is a critical period where managing emotions can be difficult. Therefore, it's crucial to provide teens with the necessary tools and support to handle their emotions effectively and establish healthier emotional responses.
Causes of Anger Issues in Teenagers
Hormonal changes: During puberty, teenagers experience hormonal changes that can make them more irritable and prone to mood swings.
Family conflict: Teenagers who experience conflicts regularly with their parents or siblings may feel frustrated, angry, and powerless.
Stress and anxiety: Teenagers are often pressured to perform well in school, sports, and other activities. This pressure can cause stress and anxiety, which can trigger anger.
Substance abuse: Teenagers who use drugs or alcohol may be more likely to experience anger and aggression.
Symptoms of Anger Issues in Teenagers
The symptoms of anger issues in teenagers can vary but may include the following:
Frequent outbursts of anger, shouting, yelling, screaming, lashing out
Physical or verbal violence/ aggression
Arguing excessively with parents, siblings, teachers, or classmates
Irrational behavior and thinking
Threats made verbally
Cruel behavior towards animals or people
Isolation and withdrawal from family and friends
Difficulty managing stress and anxiety
Changes in appetite or sleeping habits
Treatment Options Available for Teenagers with Anger Issues
Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular type of therapy for assisting teenagers in managing their anger. CBT focuses on recognizing and replacing negative thought patterns and behaviors with more positive ones.
Medication: In extreme cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of anger issues.
Anger management classes: Anger management classes can teach teenagers how to recognize triggers for their anger and how to cope with them healthily.
Lifestyle changes: Teenagers may benefit from changing their lifestyle, such as getting more exercise, practicing relaxation techniques, and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
Remember to wait and breathe: Sometimes when the anger is so overwhelming that in the heat of the moment, it is difficult for teenagers to manage their anger and no other measures to control are accessible, learning to regulate their nervous system can be helpful. An easy way to regulate our nervous system is to remind ourselves amid an anger episode to take some deep breaths and tell ourselves that we have control only over how we feel and respond, not over most people and circumstances that may be making us angry. Taking deep breaths helps us in releasing anger from our bodies.
Over time I started practicing deep breathing exercises whenever I felt myself getting worked up. I learned to communicate my feelings more constructively, instead of just lashing out. I found healthy outlets for my emotions, like writing in a journal, going for a run, or co-regulating with a pet. It wasn't an overnight fix, and I still struggle with my emotions occasionally. But I'm proud of how far I've come and grateful for the support that helped me get there. Anger issues can be tough to deal with, but with the right tools and mindset, it is possible to overcome them.
Written by: Swarali Asolkar (BA Psychology, TY, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda) Proofread & edited by: Rubal Prajapati (Counseling Psychologist and Ph.D. Scholar at Bharathiar University)