Reaching Out to an Angry Teen

Reaching Out to Your Angry Teenagerby Lisa Rosen

Stomp…stomp…stomp.  Slam!

Has your teenager ever come home from school this way? Maybe stopping on the way to her room to yell at you or comment under her breath.  She is angry and irritated.

You have no idea why. You have no idea what to do about it.

She isn’t talking. But she is giving you, with nonverbal gestures you can’t miss, a signal that something has had a strong impact on her life. It may not feel like it, but this is an opportunity to understand, support, help, and guide her.

 What’s Really Going On with Your Teen

Oftentimes, angry teens are really experiencing other emotions—sadness, fear, hopelessness, embarrassment, loneliness, or anxiety.  As a parent, you can only see the anger that is on the surface. You see behavior that is completely unacceptable, and you may respond with anger of your own. Look deeper.  Something else is going on.   For teenagers and all of us, it is easier to get angry than to deal with the real, underlying issues. Your teenager is constantly in the process of learning how to cope with challenges and hard emotions. She needs you. But how do you approach her without getting your head bitten off?

Reaching Out to Your Teen

In that moment of an anger, she might need space or a diversion to calm down. Think indirect approach. Let her take a walk or listen to music or watch television before you try to talk to her. When a teenager is upset, you might be unable to engage in productive conversation. If you try, you will experience opposition, and you may even see a side of your teen that you didn’t know existed. Let her calm down so she can hear you. Nothing is going to be worked out when so much emotion is flying through the air. It could take a few minutes or a few hours before she is ready to talk.

When the time is right, start small-just let her know that you can see that something is wrong and remind her that you are there if she wants to talk. Offer to go on a walk together to talk about it. Use short, direct, neutral statements, followed by a period of time where your teenager can decide what to do on her own. Guide her, but empower her.

There might be times that your teenager doesn’t want to talk about her day or an issue that came up. Don’t be discouraged. By patiently waiting for an opening to have a conversation, you are establishing and maintaining a relationship—and opening the door for your teenager to talk to you about hard topics. Bymaking suggestions about what she Look deeper than my angercan do during hard times, you are also teaching her how to manage her emotions.

Most of all, you are reminding your teenager that you are there for her—and knowing that she’s not alone is often the best gift you can give to your teen.

If you need help connecting with your teenager, give us a call today! 720-468-0101

About Lisa Rosen

Lisa Rosen, MA, LPC provides couples, individual, and family therapy for adults and teens at Colorado Counseling Center. Lisa cares deeply about helping her clients, and does so with compassion, patience, and understanding. To learn more about Lisa’s counseling specialties, please visit coloradocounselingcenter.com/lisa-rosen/

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