Updated: May 29
An angry teenager can wreck havoc on a home. Earlier in life it was so much easier. You had a child, small and obedient. If disobedient, consequences and discipline were straightforward.
Fast forward to now.
Your teen has grown both physically, cognitively, and into a whole new personality. They are trying on new identities and explore risky behaviors you never dreamed that they would pursue.
You're shocked, and you call your teen out on their behavior, invoking that they become more responsible over their actions and make wise choices only to be met with being stonewalled by your teen, or an explosive argument.
You are not alone.
The warring in the home can feel exhausting and leave you feeling powerless.
Here are 3 tips to assist you in your response to your teen and regaining some control in the house.
1. Be on Their Side
You are their biggest role model. You heard that right.
Are your teen's biggest role model.
Your thoughts, words, and behaviors impact your teen more than those from anyone else.
It may seem right now that your teen could not care less about what you have to say, but let's be honest, that's an act. Teens care intensely about what their parents have to SAY, and they are also watching closely on what parents DO as well.
If a teen feels that their parents are not on their side, or is out to get them it can make them feel threatened, have to defend themselves, and spiral into an argumentative state.
Use your words and actions to communicate to your teen that you are on their side. I'm not saying let your teen do whatever they want to the detriment of their own health and development.
What I am saying is host a game night. Take your kid to their favorite restaurant on a random Tuesday. Do something fun, small, and special to show them that you care for them and that you are on their side.
2. Take a Breather
In the blink of an eye, an argument can go from a one to a Threat Level Midnight.
If you teen is already angry, it can make things worse to continue the conversation. Tell your teen that YOU need a break and will talk more about the situation another day.
In doing this, you are respectfully giving your teen a chance to calm down, without having them feel like a child for having to be told to "calm down".
If your teen is itching to continue the conversation, pick a specific time and date and stick with it. Most issues that arise do not have to be solved immediately.
Take a breather.
Avoid the power struggle until your teen feels more under control.
3. Don't Take Their Anger Personally
There is more going on that what is on the surface.
You have seen the metaphor of an iceberg right? Ten percent of what your teen is dealing with is what they are showing you, and 90 percent is under the surface.
Issues such as anxiety, self-esteem, peer pressure, family relations, shame, relationships, expectations, their future all are weighing in on them.
Your teen giving you a hard time about taking out the trash is not about you. It could quite possibly be everything else they are dealing with.
This is simply the straw that broke the teenage camel's back.
They might be angry at you right now, but YOU ARE NOT complete source of all of their emotional turmoil.
Don't believe that lie. Don't take the anger personally. Don't dwell on their mistakes. Give your teen some grace and move forward with supporting and empowering your teen to success.
Angry outbursts can be difficult. They can turn a home upside down.
Underlying anger can last for a long time. Outbursts of anger are emotionally and physically exhausting for parents and teens. Fortunately, these types of outbursts typically last less than 30 minutes.
By being on their side, taking "breathers", and not taking their anger personally, you will help to de-escalate outbursts, reduce their frequency and help to create peace in the home.
Hi, my name is Jesse. I am a counselor for teens in Northwest Arkansas who are struggling with anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. I see clients in person and virtually. If you have a teen where punishments seem to not be working, check out my article on holding your teen hostage, how to respond to teenage behavior issues.
Tried all the tips? Feeling exhausted with your teen?
It may be time to schedule a counseling appointment for your teen.
The best part... the first session is free.