As a parent, you want only the best for your children. Unfortunately, sometimes parents have to deal with aggressive or violent teens. If your teen exhibits troubled behaviors early on, it can mean they’re more likely to engage in violence later on. For example, they could be charged with a violent crime at some point if the issues aren’t addressed.
Teens face a lot of stress and emotional ups and downs, and so some frustration or even the occasional outburst isn’t necessarily a problem.
However, if your teen is getting in trouble at school or elsewhere, or causes destruction, or is violent at home, what can you do?
First, always seek emergency help if your teen is violent. Separate yourself from a violent teen—leave the house if necessary.
If you’re not in a situation where you’re facing immediate danger, but you would like to help your troubled teen, consider the following tips.
Understanding Why a Teen is Acting a Certain Way
A teenager’s brain is different from an adult’s and is still actively developing. This makes them process information differently. Hormones can further create complications.
It can be tough for teens to think through things like an adult would, or to fully understand consequences, or even have empathy.
This can help explain teens’ impulsive behavior or rebelliousness.
When you have a better understanding of how a teen’s brain works and also other underlying factors they may be dealing with, it can give you a better place to work from to help them.
With this being said, it’s important to differentiate between typical teen behavior and the behavior of a troubled teen.
A troubled teen may be engaging in high-risk activities or have a mental health disorder. While understanding what’s going on below the surface can help you stay connected to your teen, it’s unlikely you can fix the situation on your own without the help of a professional.
Coping with Teen Anger
If your teen is showing signs of anger, there may be some other feeling they are attempting to mask, like embarrassment or fear.
Anger in teens is especially common in males.
To help your teen deal with anger, you should set boundaries and consequences and follow them.
Work to uncover what’s truly behind the anger.
Start to identify triggers for your teen’s anger, as well as potential warning signs. If you spot these warning signs, work with your teen on more productive coping mechanisms.
Encourage your teen to do something physical when they start to feel anger creeping in. For example, maybe you encourage them to go for a run or a bike run or listen to loud music.
Give your teen space when necessary, and don’t model the same behaviors your teen is showing by losing your own temper.
There are certain warning signs that your teen’s anger could be unsafe. For example, playing with weapons, obsessing over violent content of any kind, or threatening other people are red flags requiring professional intervention.
Learn to Recognize Signs of Depression in Teens
One commonality between many teens who have behavioral or emotional issues is that underneath it, they’re dealing with depression. They may not even realize this is the case, but it’s something you as a parent can watch for.
Signs of depression in teens include low self-esteem, substance abuse, and recklessness. Smartphone addiction and problems at school like concentration problems or low energy are also symptomatic of teen depression.
When you notice these symptoms, you can speak to a therapist or counselor about what your next steps might be.
Take Care of Yourself
After you’ve turned to professionals to help your teen, you have to keep in mind the importance of taking care of yourself.
You should work on balancing the time you spend helping your teen with your own self-care.
It’s not your fault, and you may need therapy yourself to help you understand that.
You should also choose your battles carefully. Start with what you can deal with currently and work on that, rather than trying to take on everything at once.
Separate your teen’s behavior from who they are as a person, and no matter what, use positive, loving language with your teen that shows them you are able to separate their behavior from them.
Ignoring problematic behaviors won’t make them go away, and are likely to worsen the situation, so deal with them as best as you can as soon as you can.