Anger and Adolescence
How to cool the flame of teenage anger.
Anger is an important part of adolescence. It’s a part of the process of teenagers separating from their parents and establishing their own individual personas.
Anger becomes a problem if you do not know how to handle it. So if you’re a teen who sometimes gets angry (or even an adult) here are a few pointers to help you manage your anger before it gets the best of you:
Maintain perspective: With so many new experiences coming your way while you are in high school, it can be hard to separate the genuine concerns from the slight annoyances. Things like physical harm or verbal bullying are undisputed concerns, whereas someone occasionally prying into your life or unintentionally stifling you are smaller issues.
Recognize the genuine reasons to get upset and ignore the inconsequential things. Once you are able to distinguish the “big” and “small” stuff, it is a lot easier to maintain perspective and cool down.
Redirect anger: Sometimes you might get angry at a parent or sibling because of another issue that occurred earlier in the day with someone else. Take a step back and ask yourself, “Why am I really angry?” It can help you redirect your feelings at the appropriate source.
Avoid triggers: There are probably situations that automatically make you angry (such as your parents not giving you enough space, even though you are always following their rules). Being aware of these triggers can help you take control of the situation. Before walking through the door, remind yourself that your parents – because they love you – will probably ask you a multitude of questions. Rehearse the answers you will give in order to satisfy both yourself and your parents. This way, you will be prepared for a potentially frustrating encounter.
Time management: When you’re stressed, you are more likely to express anger in a destructive manner. Likewise, if you’re sleep-deprived, you are more likely to snap at those around you (even without real provocation). A great way to avoid these feelings is to manage your time effectively. Don’t leave big assignments and studying to the night before they are due. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. That way, you will be better equipped to handle anger when confronted with it.
Talk it out: One of the best ways to control your anger is through calmly talking to others. When not in the heat of the moment, it might help to talk to your friends about what is making you upset. You can also think about whether anything would change if you spoke to your parents about the way you feel. If you think they would be receptive, ask your parents when a good time to sit down and talk would be. Setting aside time for your relationship will strengthen your ties with your parents and ultimately smooth out the kinks in your relationship.
Anger is a part of growing up and becoming your own person. In fact, if you don’t ever get angry now and then, I would be a bit worried!
It’s how you handle your anger that determines your quality of life. Positive anger management can be constructive. When expressed positively, it can help improve your self-respect and even help others gain more respect for you. When you speak with others about your feelings and come up with resolutions together, you are building stronger foundations for relationships.
As you grow older, events will continue to occur that will make you angry, so practicing constructive anger management techniques will benefit you in the future as well. Just bear in mind, mad is not bad – it’s all about how you react to that anger. Will you let it get the best of you or will you let it bring out the best in you?
With thanks to Dr. Les Parrott, author of Helping the Struggling Adolescent