Does your child get heated all of a sudden and start raging, even when they perceive the slightest inconvenience? Do you feel like they’ve lost control over their rage? Well, we are here to provide you with some insights that will help you understand and resolve the problem effectively.
What is anger?
Anger has been time and again recognized as the strongest of emotions. Whether this statement is true or not, is a matter of debate. But, anger is definitely one of the rawest of them all.
This specific emotion usually generates in you when you feel like you have been wronged in one way or the other, and it is directed towards the person whom your mind holds responsible for doing that to you. According to popular research, three types of anger have been identified which influence how you react in a particular situation:
Passive aggression is the kind of anger that you restrain yourself from expressing. But, no matter how hard you try to suppress it, it still gets expressed through certain gestures or words. Open aggression, on the other hand, is an expression of anger, unfiltered, to its fullest. Assertive anger is a more composed way of expressing anger, where you hold your ground, provide your reasons for being angry, but in a sophisticated, restrained manner which provides the person on the opposite side with a space to express themselves as well. Assertive anger can have positive implications and can actually pave the way towards resolving an issue, while the first two types of anger can be quite destructive in their own ways if not handled well.
Causes of anger issues in a teenager
Teenage and adolescence come with their own set of life-changing implications, and these are challenging times in most people’s lives. A lot of changes take place during the adolescence period in both the internal as well as the external environment of a person. And dealing with these changes is anything but easy.
Anger is all about triggers. Anger issues might even come to the surface owing to seemingly the smallest or the most insignificant of triggers. The reason might or might not be the situation or the trigger itself. In many cases, anger issues in teenagers have been noticed to occur because of some deep, underlying, unresolved psychological or even physiological problem that the individual is dealing with. Below we have listed some of the causes that contribute towards anger issues in teenagers:
Hormonal Changes: Hormones play a significant part in controlling our emotions. Teenagers experience massive hormonal changes, which at times might go a little too berserk, thus causing unwanted feelings to come to the surface. Teenage girls, when they start menstruating, can have anger issues owing to PMS, while adolescent boys, too, owing to their hormonal imbalance due to puberty, might be easily triggered to anger.
Strained Family Environment: Our family plays a significant role in our emotional and mental well-being. A teenager belonging to a healthy family where everyone is content and at peace with one another is less susceptible to developing anger issues than one who comes from a home where people are always quarrelling with each other or are just cold and indifferent towards each other. A strained family environment can make you develop mental health disorders like anxiety, depression and can also make you highly irritable, emotionally exhausted and thus, prone to anger.
Unresolved Trauma: Traumatic experiences like being bullied, being sexually or physically harassed can lead to anger issues if they remain unresolved. In such cases, one should seek professional help since unresolved trauma can have severe implications in the long run.
Academic Pressure: With all the problems one deals with during one’s teenage years, the added pressure of academics can feel very overwhelming at times, especially with the competition that is prevalent in today’s day and age. Meeting the expectations of family members, teachers and the desire to excel and perform better than one’s peers can be pretty pressurizing and mount to emotional load, thus leading to outbursts of anger.
Pre-existing Mental Health Issues: Teenagers dealing with mental health disorders like OCD, anxiety, depression, body dysmorphic disorder, or eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia or binge eating can develop anger issues over time and thus get easily triggered in susceptible situations.
Other than these, there can be specific other causes that can elicit anger issues, like the death of a loved one, substance abuse problems and so on.
Anger issues in teens
Anger, a part of our fight or flight response, is a normal emotion that is inherent in the nature of all human beings. Arguing, calling names, temper issues, stopping or restricting contact with someone are common manifestations of anger. But, when does anger turn into deep-seated anger issues in teenagers? Well, we have already listed the causes above, and the following are the signs you need to watch out for that are indicators of anger issues in teenagers:
Getting involved in physical fights
Bullying peers or juniors
Perpetually being disrespectful to elders
Being verbally abusive towards friends or family or even strangers
Displaying cruelty towards friends, siblings, pets or stray animals
Once spotted, it is crucial to take the proper steps towards anger management and towards resolving the anger issues.
How to control anger outbursts?
Anger outbursts or rage attacks are, more often than not, a result of your emotions overpowering your capability of thinking and rationalizing the events. These emotional outbursts are sudden, and they can make even an insignificant problem or situation to be blown out of proportion. Anger outbursts are not only harmful to your physical and mental health, but they can also pose a threat to your acquaintances. Rage attacks can potentially worsen a situation and make things even harder to get in control of.
There are certain steps that you can take to control your anger outbursts:
Breathe: The moment you start to feel even a tinge of anger, start taking deep breaths. Concentrating on breathing will help you divert your mind and will maintain the optimum level of oxygen flow to your brain, which will help you control your emotions.
Take a time-out: When you feel your rage bubbling up inside, walk out of the room or leave the space where the incident is taking place and move to a calmer area, away from the person or situation your rage is directed at.
Use a rubber band: If you experience anger outbursts frequently, you can wear a rubber band on your wrist or finger. Start tugging at it the moment you start feeling the pressure building up inside. This is a smart way to distract yourself.
Start counting in your mind: Counting is a proven method of controlling anger outbursts. You can count from one to a hundred in your mind and then backwards, and that will help to take the edge of your mind and slowly diffuse your anger.
Drink water: Drinking water can help you cool down immediately, thus helping your mind to get back on track. It will help you think better and stop the outburst from taking place.
Think before opening your mouth: Rage attacks are characterized by shouting and hurling verbal abuses towards or verbally attacking the person you’re engaged with. This not only hampers your image but can also profoundly hurt the person you’re angry at. It is wiser to think before you speak because that can save you a lot of damage.
Speak when you’re ready: Once you feel like you have got back your control over your rage, you can start addressing the issue but in well-thought-out, sophisticated terms.
How to deal with anger issues?
Once anger issues become deep-seated or embedded in one’s personality or mind, they might be pretty hard to deal with. But, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Below, we’ve listed some methods that can prove really helpful in teenage anger management:
Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle choices play a crucial role in regulating our emotions. Exercising daily, even if that’s for a mere ten minutes, can help you release stress, regulate your heart rate and metabolism, and will eventually make you feel better. This will contribute towards stopping extreme anger from getting stored up in your system. A healthy diet consisting of a lot of fruits and vegetables with less oil and red meat will also help you regulate your hormones and manage your anger.
Keeping a diary or journal: Journaling is a healthy way of expressing your suppressed emotions. It helps you to come to terms with your feelings and address the causes behind them. Putting your anger on paper can help you get rid of it.
Finding a creative outlet: Finding a creative outlet for your anger can help you channelize it for something more significant and beautiful. It is one of the best anger management exercises, and it’ll contribute to your personal growth as well. Engaging in different sports and activities like boxing, karate, rowing and so on can prove to be of great help as well.
Practising empathy: Having empathy for others will help you to accept their behaviour and opinions better, and you will be able to forgive them readily. Thus, you won’t hold grudges any longer.
Anger attacks and temper issues can rear their ugly head any time, at any age. Teenagers are especially susceptible to such emotions. If your child or a teenager you know is dealing with anger issues, you should definitely try out the above tips and seek professional help if required. The content on the ThatMate app aims towards helping adolescents and teenagers in their battle with mental health issues, including anger management and control. With the app downloaded on your device, you can have unlimited, 24/7 access to the content, a helping hand, in times of need.
Remember, there’s no shame in experiencing anger but, it is wrong to keep nourishing and harbouring it even when it is affecting your health, relationships, social life as well as the people you associate with.