It is normal for teenagers to have emotional outbursts. Psychologists say that getting angry is a normal feeling or reaction towards something that a person disagrees or feel distasteful with. For adolescents, the cause of getting angry may be related to establishing autonomy from parental control and the ability to project an adult status who wants to be capable of making their own decisions and actions right away.
However, anger is never normal for teenagers, this can result to disruptive behaviors ultimately hurting others or themselves. If this is the situation, it is time that they be referred to an anger management class or therapy. According to Denis Sukhodolsky, PhD, a clinical psychologist with Yale Medicine Child Study Center “For children whose tantrums continue as they get older and become something that is not developmentally appropriate, causing problems with peers, family or at school, professional help may be in order.”
What is Anger Management?
Anger management allows the person to identify, control and manage their emotional outbursts in a more positive way. Dr. Vasco Lopes, a clinical psychologist, says “most kids who have frequent meltdowns do it at very predictable times” Most teens when asked why are they getting angry most of the time would just simply reply, I don’t know! And same as true with parents. Parents get confused why their children would suddenly shout or get mad so fast over simple things even without confrontational meetings. In anger management, teens and even parents are counseled to identify these trigger factors in order to assess the severity of the emotional response.
After identification of the trigger factors, counselors would then help the teens in finding ways on how to manage their anger. There will be activities to help each teen solve or come up with a plan on how to stay calm and control angst and being disruptive. Part of the therapy is to encourage venting out the anger and not bursting out like a ticking time bomb. It is not always good to suppress anger because the moment it gets out of hand, the magnitude of the anger and defiance is most likely to be explosive too. Thereby, therapists or counselors will teach and guide teens on how to vent out their emotions in a positive way. Some are encouraged to write a journal, channeling their emotions through writing. Instead of uttering strong and hurtful verbiage to another person, teenagers are being taught to write it all in their journal. Re-reading through it after some time, or after the anger has dissipated, can help the teenager reflect on the situation and will assist him/her on what to do next time this will come around.
Other creative ways of venting out are to get actively involved in sports like boxing or running. Some would go for the arts like painting, composing rap music or simply thru dancing. The mind can be distracted in many ways. But the goal of anger management is to help the teenager channel the emotional outburst into positive outcomes.
Communication skills are also enhanced in order to train the teenager to speak politely and be involved in pleasant interactions. One of many causes of heightened anger is thru daily conversations. Topics that could trigger the anger button sometimes involved politics, religion, personal beliefs, and preferences. Teenagers are encouraged not to deal much on these topics and as much as possible to stay away from discussing once it is brought up.
Other mindful and physical activities during an anger management class are teaching the teenagers relaxation techniques. Yoga is known to be a great exercise to stabilize a stressful mind and body. A relaxation day at a spa and having body massage is also a good alternative to handle a stressful day. We have to listen to when a clinical psychologist Norman Anderson says “When teens report their own level of stress, it is typically much higher than parents would report of their teen’s level of stress.”
What Parents Can Do
Parents are also being invited to attend in one of the sessions during the anger management class. There will be interviews, family reviews with the therapist, and discussions on what’s going to be the best thing to do. It is important that parents are able to go through this process as well with their children because this will create a positive mark on the part of the children – parents demonstrating a sense of commitment and affirmation of love towards them.
It is understandable that it may be a hard process and journey to take, nonetheless, it will be all worth it once teenagers are able to handle and filter their emotions constructively while having their parents beside them supporting all the way.
Anger management is a learning process. It is done individually or by a group with a licensed therapist. For teenagers, parents are included in the anger management class to help reinforce change.
It does not mean that you are no longer able to feel anger or react vehemently after successfully completing an anger management class. It will simply make you more responsible in dealing with your emotions and preventing you from harming yourself and others emotionally and physically. Remember, anger is a normal human emotion. Each one of us has the right to be angry. We only just need to control it once it becomes overpowering.