The Best Ways to Handle Teen Anger, According to Psychologists
Here’s what to do when the eye-rolls and outbursts start (because there are going to be eye-rolls and outbursts).
You probably expected to get some attitude once your kid hit the teen years. However, the constant eye-rolling, lip-smacking, and “You make me sick!” outbursts may be harder to handle than you imagined. It’s like your teen can skyrocket from calm to furious within the blink of an eye. If you’re being honest with yourself, the perpetual outrage concerns you, and likely pisses you off, too. But before you lose your cool, take a breather. How you deal with your teen’s anger can either bring the two of you closer — or push you further apart.
First off: What’s the difference between angst and anger?
The term “teen angst” gets thrown around so much that you probably assume your kid’s anger issues are all a part of that. However, angst and anger are different. “In general, angst entails anxiety, dread, or apprehension regarding the future,” says Bernard Golden, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Healthy Anger: How to Help Children and Teens Make Sense of and Manage Anger in Everyday Life. Anger, on the other hand, is about what happened or what your teen believes should or should have happened, he says. So, for example, if your teen feels apprehensive about taking the SAT practice test, she may be moody or pessimistic. That’s teenage angst. But if she already took the test and bombed it, she may be angry at herself and express it by snapping at people or ripping up her test results. Dr. Golden says increased anxiety can make teens more vulnerable to anger. Therefore, it’s possible that angst and anger can occur together, or that your teen’s anger may be a result of angst.
Why are teens so full of angst, anyway?
The adolescent years are filled with anxiety, frustration, fear, and other things that fall under the umbrella of teenage angst. Many teens don’t know how to process those feelings, so it can all come bubbling out as anger.