How To Help Your Teen Manage Their Anger & Irritability

How To Help Your Teen Manage Their Anger & Irritability

"Having your teen talk to a therapist or counselor can help uncover the root of their anger, especially if they’ve been reluctant to talk to you about it."

How to Help Teens Manage Anger & Irritability

From slammed doors to the silent treatment, teens show their anger and irritability in many colorful varieties. If your teen struggles with ADHD or anxiety, their emotions may appear even more turbulent at times, and often unpredictable. 

This article will break down what parents can do at home about anger in teens and when you should seek more support.  

Signs of Anger & Irritability in Teens

Everyone gets angry from time to time, but for some teens who have trouble regulating their emotions, anger can erupt over the slightest provocation. Anger and irritability are also less known signs of ADHD in teens, often exacerbated by feeling misunderstood by their teachers or peers. 

Signs of anger and irritability in teens include:

  • Frequent outbursts
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble controlling emotions
  • Impulsivity
  • Lack of concentration
  • Oversensitivity
  • Forgetfulness
  • Physical symptoms like racing heart, sweating, and tense muscles 

What to Do as a Parent

If your teen’s anger feels constant or out-of-control, it’s important to be proactive instead of hoping it’ll resolve on its own. When teens do not learn healthy ways of managing their anger, it can negatively affect their schoolwork, damage their relationships with peers, and even contribute to mental health issues in adulthood.1 If you feel your teen is in danger of harming themselves or others, it’s crucial you seek immediate outside help from a therapist, counselor, or crisis hotline to get them the help they need. 

There are also steps you can take at home to help them learn how to manage their anger and irritability more effectively:

1. Encourage Open Communication

Create a safe and supportive environment where your teen feels comfortable expressing their feelings without judgment. Encourage them to talk about what triggers their anger and irritability. Try not to shrug off their concerns or compare them to the “real world” stressors of adulthood. While their troubles may seem miniscule to you, they are a very big deal to them. 

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2. Identify Triggers

Work with your teen to identify specific triggers that lead to anger outbursts or irritability. Knowing these triggers can help you both come up with solutions. For instance, if your teen is triggered by academic stress, you may be able to seek support from a tutor or work with their teacher to establish more manageable academic expectations. Or, they might be struggling because of poor habits, like staying up too late and missing sleep, eating too much junk food, or spending too much time on screens. Each of these habits can be improved with slight lifestyle adjustments and have a significant impact on their mood.  

3. Teach Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Help your teen develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage anger and stress. Mindfulness can be a big help here. Practicing deep breathing exercises, mindful journaling, or meditating can help them slow the racing thoughts that accompany anger and focus on the moment, meanwhile letting their nervous system dial down from hot to cool. Other healthy coping mechanisms can include physical activity, playing an instrument, or even hitting a punching bag.

4. Model Positive Behavior in Stress Management Situations

If you’re a hothead and find yourself yelling or slamming doors when angry, chances are your teen will model the same behavior. Make a conscious effort to model positive ways to manage stress and cope with difficult emotions. Show them how to problem-solve and communicate effectively during challenging situations, especially when they’re the one who’s making you angry.

5. Help Your Teen Set Realistic Expectations for Themselves

Some teens, especially those who struggle with ADHD or anxiety, get trapped by perfectionism. Encourage them to set realistic goals for themselves and embrace their mistakes instead of striving for perfection. If they tend to get overwhelmed by their tasks and then beat themselves up when they don’t complete them, help them take a different approach. Break tasks into manageable steps and celebrate small victories along the way.

6. Limit Screen Time

Studies show that children and adolescents who spend most of their time on screens are angrier and at greater risk for violent and aggressive behaviors, such as physical fighting and bullying. This is especially true if the media they’re consuming is violent.2 Other studies show that teens who use screens excessively may neglect their responsibilities, use screens to deal with their stress, and feel anxious when not using devices.3 If that’s not problematic enough, too much screen time can also interfere with sleep, especially when used too closely to bedtime. Encourage (and model) healthy screen habits, ideally limiting passive screen time (like social media, YouTube videos, TV) and gaming to one hour per day. 

7. Educate Them on Anger & Responsibility

Teach your teen about the relationship between anger, responsibility, and consequences. Help them understand the impact of their actions on themselves and others. For example, if your teen shouts when they don’t get their way and you’ve issued a consequence (loss of privileges, grounding, etc.), be sure to follow up by requiring them to practice better behavior, which then strengthens their self-control. Recognize when they make a conscious effort to handle their anger responsibly, such as asking for space or communicating their anger calmly. 

8. Seek OTC Medications or Professional Help

If your teen’s anger persists, you may need more support. Having your teen talk to a therapist or counselor can help uncover the root of their anger, especially if they’ve been reluctant to talk to you about it. They can also learn coping skills and tools when they feel heated. 

You can also try a non-prescription medication like Brillia, suitable for children and teens ages 5-18. Brillia is clinically proven to reduce stress, anxiety, irritability, and impulsivity without making them drowsy or masking their personality in any way. Free from harsh, synthetic chemicals and harmful side effects, Brillia gently and impactfully targets the brain-specific S100B protein, a crucial regulator of many different intracellular and extracellular brain processes. Brillia essentially improves the way your teen’s brain cells communicate with each other without altering blood chemistry or affecting any other systems in the body.  

If your teen is already taking a prescription medication for anxiety, ADHD, or another condition, you might still want to try Brillia to resolve any secondary symptoms caused by those medications (for instance, anxiety is a common side effect of stimulant ADHD medication), or to avoid increasing the dosage of prescription medications (which increases the likelihood of experiencing side effects). There are no contraindications associated with Brillia, so you can add it to their regimen without worry. 

Brillia is part of a holistic 5 Pillar approach, which merges neuroscience (antibodies to the S100B protein) with behavioral science (healthy lifestyle habits). As a first step in managing your child’s anger, irritability, and other problematic symptoms, you’ll want to tweak their lifestyle, aiming for proper nutrition, adequate sleep, controlled screen time, and mindfulness. Often, making these lifestyle habits is enough to help your teen feel more balanced and empowered to make change. But Brillia is one more pillar of support, helping to ensure your teen sticks to their new habits while feeling like the best version of themselves. Find out more about how this holistic plan works.   

Managing anger and irritability in teens requires patience, understanding, and proactive intervention. But if you work together, your teen can learn how to control their anger instead of letting anger control them. Find more tips and resources at the Brillia(ance) Resource Center.

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References: 1, 2, 3
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