When I was fifteen I spent two whole months not talking to my mom. I was angry at what I thought was her inability to understand me and my friends.
I know now that it had a lot to do with the hormones running through my body and less to do with my mom’s grip on my life.
Looking back I see how weird it was to have a person who smiled and talked to you about everything transform into a sulky stranger ready to yell at and defy your every request.
I know a lot of parents are dealing with this situation right now, and having a son who is full of rage is especially challenging. What causes these flare-ups? How do you diffuse these tension filled situations? You can’t just say that it is a part of life and that he will grow out of it.
Often, if left alone and ignored the situation will get worse, and without intervention the teen will grow up to be an adult who thinks angry outbursts are the norm and will use it to intimidate other people.
I know it can be a constant battle at home. You tell him one thing and he is arguing and saying another. The arguments have to stop. It is not a good idea to just let him have his way.
Also, if left alone, the rage could develop into worse behavioral problems. It is a bad idea to push him because it could lead to a harmful and dangerous situation. Avoid playing the authority figure and check your anger because it only fuels the fire.
Studies have shown that grounding your raging teen only makes it worse. Just like children younger than they are, you can say ‘no’ but give them an explanation why they can’t do something.
Teenagers may look like adults but their thinking is still very much like children. When you both are calm, it is easy to find out the source of the anger and frustration.
Much of their rage comes from insecurity, like not fitting in at school, or not doing well in sports or in class. Sometimes things like not having the right clothes or appearance can be the source of what’s bothering them. It could be not getting the girl he wants or a break up that causes the stress and rage.
Once you have found the source of their frustrations, acknowledge it and try to promote a sense of responsibility and connect their involvement in it, then diffuse it by changing their focus and having them exert themselves at something else.
For example, your son just blew up at his basketball coach and he is now home and still seething at some wrong that you did not witness. Ask him, calmly, what was up with the basketball game.
He may tell you that it wasn’t really anything the coach did; he was upset because his girlfriend broke up with him. Then say that you understand how upsetting a break up could be, the only problem is that the coach did not know that.
The coach is probably mad at the outburst and that it would be too bad since you know how much basketball means to him. You can tell him to talk it over with the coach.
Get your teenager to see his part in it. Then, after the talk, go for a run or play some basketball, or surf, whatever lets your teen burn off some of the adrenaline and get their mind off what just happened.
When you start listening you’ll find that he is willing to talk. He will also be able to cope with anger problems better. Don’t put all the blame on him, remember that you were that age once and you probably thought that adults never listened to anything you said, and you may have been right.
My mom and I patched it up when she started to ask me to tell her my issues, and she listened without any judgment. I felt I could talk to her again, and it also helped that she signed me up for soccer, where I could burn off a lot of frustration and adrenaline on the field.
Many teen rehab specialists make use of counseling and therapy to help teenage addicts get rid of their drug habits.