Anger Management for Teens

“Anger” consists of two parts:

1. The issue that you are mad about.

  1. The energy the emotion of anger creates in you.

Consider this example: You are laughed at in class. Consequently, you pick a fight with the kid that laughed at you between classes. Teachers intervene and you are sent to the principal’s office, where you wait for 20 minutes before you are lectured by the principal.

What is going on in this example?

While being laughed at, you feel humiliation and anger. Humiliation usually makes a person feel weak/no energy.  Anger, on the other hand, always results in the body producing a lot of energy (Perhaps you have noticed physical changes in your body when you are angry.  Some of these changes include a tingling in your hands, sweating, rapid breathing, etc.).

All emotions impact our thinking. Setting aside the effects of humiliation for the moment, anger usually always makes us want to get active, quickly and strongly. And when this occurs, you don’t take time to think through want you want to do and you react with too much force.

So, you pick the fight. Why? Because we are energized and not thinking clearly.

Teachers break up the fight and send you to the principal’s office, where you wait (and have time to calm down). The energy your anger produced in your body has now been expelled by the fight; consequently, you calm down and your thinking returns to normal.

Later, you say something like, “I don’t know what got into me!” What got into you was the energy your body created when you got mad…and you let it come out in the form of a fight, thus getting yourself into more trouble.

So, if you want to manage your anger, what should you do?

First. Understand the above principles: When you get angry, your body produces energy.  That energy must be expressed before you address the issue that made you made in the first place.  Once you have expressed the energy, then go back and address the issue that made you mad.

Second. Think about safe and “ok” ways of expelling or channeling this energy in a variety of settings, i.e., in school, at home, in a store, at your girl/boyfriends house, etc.

Three. Practice these methods.  Learning to address such powerful emotions takes a lot of practice!

Fourth. Ask people you respect and/or you feel are mature how they handle their anger when they get angry.  Other people, especially older persons have more experience and can give ideas on how to handle your anger energy that you may never have thought of.

Fifth.  Here are some other ideas for managing your anger:

  • Know your triggers. Pay attention to what upsets you by noticing how your body feels when you are angry. Sometimes people are first aware of experiencing anger through their bodies rather than their thoughts or feelings. You may feel like your heart is racing, you might be breathing faster, your muscles may tighten, or you could feel hot or sweaty. When you notice your body beginning to react, it’s time to slow down and identify the feeling before reacting. If there are certain things that you know bother you, sometimes you can avoid them.  Sometimes your triggers may not be avoidable and then it’s up to express your emotional energy first and then address the trigger or issue.
  • Plan your time wisely. One of the most common anger stressors is being in a rush. The simplest way to avoid this is to plan ahead.
  • Talk to someone you trust. Reacting in anger often causes the reasoning center of the brain to shut off for a time and the way you can turn it back on is to talk rather than act out when anger takes hold. Taking a few minutes to gather your thoughts and speaking them out loud to a trusted person can do wonders to diffuse an angry situation.
  • Think about the consequences of your behavior. Do this before you act.
  • It is not a good idea to bottle up anger because it will usually explode later. If you have a problem with someone, talk to them about it at a time that you are calm. Many times disagreements can be worked out quickly and painlessly when everyone has a cool head.