Angry teen reaches hand out toward camera where a hand reaches back

Why is my teenager angry all the time?

Stress changes your teen and your home – here’s how to get them both back

Teenagers today face a wide range of challenges. Some of them are generational, and some of them have existed as long as time.

The classic challenge teens face is managing relationships with the many people they have in their lives. This can range from family members to peers, teachers, and coaches. Teens tend to focus most of their energy on managing relationships with peers, seeking their validation. This takes away time and energy from areas that parents feel should be invested in, and it often leads to arguments with their teens.

It may become a difficult time for the parent because teens are seeking to differentiate themselves in the world.

When your teen meanders through the living room and you interrupt their thoughts, their first response is not always a loving embrace and a kind word. This should be expected. They are often operating at full capacity in their ability to cope with the world, and you are just one more interruption.

Just because we can expect this response does not mean we have to accept it. Understanding this is the first step in winning your teen (and your home) back.

Teens face the same old pressures, and a lot of new ones

Homework, term papers, reading assignments, band practice, basketball tryouts … a typical week or even a day in your teenager’s life can introduce a lot of stress. And these are just stresses related to the ordinary function of a school day.

Angry teen reaches hand out toward camera where a hand reaches back

Your teenager wants to be independent, and they want to know you will be there to help. Photo by Noah Buscher via Unsplash

On top of that, teens are struggling to manage relationships with their peers, and trying to figure out what their dating life might look like.

Through this all, your teen is building a concept of who they are in the world. This means that praise from the right people is given a lot of weight, and can bring them a great deal of happiness. Criticism, or even a lack of feedback or a response at all, can make your teen start to doubt their skills and their social standing.

Through this all, your teen is building a concept of who they are in the world. This means that praise from the right people is given a lot of weight, and can bring them a great deal of happiness. Criticism, or even a lack of feedback or a response at all, can make your teen start to doubt their skills and their social standing.

Social media has not created any of these problems. Homer talked about how quickly fame and rumors spread even in ancient Greece. However, social media has amplified and sped up this process to an almost incomprehensible pace. An adolescent might feel as if their social reputation has been harmed by something we might consider inconsequential.

It is easy to forget this as an adult, but teens often value the opinion of their peers over everything else.

Your teen is overwhelmed and stressed … and angry

The impact of the natural pressure of being an adolescent, combined with the intense amplification that can happen through social media, is substantial. Teens today are more likely to report feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

The American Psychological Association reports that almost one third of teens feel overwhelmed. Further, these teens report common symptoms of excessive stress:

  • missing key deadlines,
  • being unable to motivate themselves,
  • having negative thoughts about themselves, and
  • getting irritable with friends and family.

In turn, one way they express their stress is through anger. And as parents, we are always present and we love them unconditionally, which makes us convenient – and safe – targets.

Solutions to teen anger and stress

It may seem as if these problems cannot be solved. After all, they are part of the process of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. And they have been amplified by social media.

Start by thinking of this period as a challenge to be managed rather than a problem to be solved. It will be different every day. It may hurt to know this, but your teen does not want your advice. At least your teen is unlikely to ever ask for it. And you can be sure that offering your advice all the time is unlikely to earn your child’s respect.

Instead, your child wants a partner in solving some of their most important issues. You can help by doing the following:

  • Create a common time to create a family schedule for the week,
  • Model the Stephen Covey practice of “first things first” – scheduling and prioritizing family events and important individual events first,
  • Asking specific but open-ended questions, like “today was your math test, how did it go?”,
  • Resist “fixing” a situation by telling your child what they should do,
  • Resist “correcting” your child when they say “this was the worst day ever”; instead, offer an empathic response like, “Oh, no. That sounds terrible. Tell me about it.”
  • Offer words of support in writing and in person, like a note in the backpack on a day that will be long and hard.

Sometimes a child feels overwhelmed by their stress and the disruption at home is substantial. In situations like this, contacting a professional counselor or psychologist is an important and appropriate step.

A trained counselor can help sort out the conflicts and develop solutions that work for you, your teen, and your family.

Sakina-Issa-Longwood-Florida

If you have further questions, or would like to set up a consultation, please contact Sakina at SakinaIssa.com. She can walk you through the process to give your teenager and you the tools to navigate this challenging time.

More parenting information is available from Sakina.

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