Why is my teenager so angry?

Do you wonder what makes your teenager so angry? Teenagers experience their emotions very intensely, even if they do not always show it. Their emotions can come as a surprise and often feel disruptive, frustrating or concerning to others.

An angry teenager may have emotional outbursts or become cold, distant and dismissive. What makes a teenager so angry is frustration with the needs, emotions and expectations that they are placing on themselves and that they perceive from you or from others. 

What does this anger mean?

Consider the intense emotion of anger. Anger is a signal telling us what our needs are. A teen expresses anger when they are overwhelmed by their needs and emotions. They don’t fully understand the need or emotion, or they feel unable to do something about it. It can be easier to express anger rather than admit to feeling another emotion such as sadness, fear or disappointment.

There are a few key things that make a teenager so angry toward their parent. Teens often hold parents responsible for struggles that they go through when they feel overwhelmed. Also, the fact that you will still be there for them even if they behave poorly makes them more likely to show their feelings. Additionally, it is difficult for a teenager to put other feelings into words. Anger will make them feel more in-control within the short term.

Here is what you can do to help your teen respond to anger in healthy ways.

1. Approach anger together as a family

Take an honest look at your way of expressing and responding to anger.

How do you handle anger expressed by someone around you?

How do you handle your own anger?

Is your family allowed to express anger in healthy ways?

Are you able to manage your own anger and stay calm when your teenager is angry?

A lot of what your teen doesn’t understand or know how to process is aimed at you via their expressions of anger and frustration. If you dismiss your teen’s opinions or concerns, they will either shut down or fight back in anger. Give your teen the time and attention they need by just listening to them express their thoughts every day.

2. Separate emotions and behavior

Just because there are reasonable explanations for what makes your teenager so angry, this does not mean that you must accept negative behavior. In fact, it is all the more reason to address any concerns with clear expectations and boundaries. You want to help your teenager avoid creating a habit of letting their emotions overflow without any follow-through of handling the situation at hand once they are calm.

How do you respond to behavior when someone is angry? How would you like to respond?

3. Eliminate judgement and critical comments

Your teenager’s anger may be partially caused or exacerbated by comments and feedback from you that is meant to be constructive but comes across as critical or judgmental.

You may not even consider something that you say about their friends, their words or their actions to be criticism. It may seem that your teenager is too sensitive or defensive.

Consider that they are already hyper-focused on themselves and comparing themselves to others and others’ expectations of them. They already have the things you say playing in their mind.

Any effort that you can make to be honest and constructive with your comments will help your teen feel safer to make mistakes, ask questions, and be accepting of themselves. This will diffuse their anger and help them build habits of responding to disappointment, sadness or fear in more constructive ways.

4. Set up a healthy way to process guilt, sadness and fear and build their self-esteem

In addition to struggling with feeling sadness or fear, guilt is probably a contributor to the complexity of the emotions that make your teenager so angry. Although it may surprise you, your teen feels guilty about expressing their anger toward you. Teens become caught up in cycle of a feeling guilt and resentment. They express their anger in ways that push you away and then they feel that you do not care or understand. 

A therapist can help your teenager find healthy ways of understanding and expressing their emotions. They will choose more appropriate actions, have constructive conversations with you and engage in positive interactions with other people throughout their life.

Let’s talk about what can help you and your teenager. Contact me for a free phone consultation.