Teenage Anger and Violence

When raising a troubled teen, teenage anger and violence at home is the most secret type of domestic violence. Parents are more likely to talk about violence coming from their partners rather than the violence that their teens show towards them and other family members. It probably stems from a confused feeling of protectiveness, thinking that they don’t want their teens get into trouble without even realizing the fact that their teens are already in trouble because of their behavior. There’s also the fact that parents who are victims of teen violence at home feel more ashamed of this because it seems more aberrant than spousal violence. It’s more unusual to hear about a teenager beating his parents and siblings black and blue than hearing about a drunken husband or wife beating their spouse.

It’s important for parents to figure out age-appropriate, effective punishment for teenagers in order to break the pattern of violence at home. In order to properly address the problem, it’s important to also understand why young people become aggressive to the point of violence. Different children have different reasons for acting out this way. However, the most common reasons for teen aggression stem from childhoods. Here are a few of the most common reasons why teens act out through violence

  • They never had to figure out how to get what they want without throwing a tantrum.
  • They never learned how to manage their frustration effectively. As they grow older, there are more sources of frustration and their stress level escalates to the point of violence.
  • They live in an environment where people have angry outbursts all the time, making it the norm. However, because of their inability to handle anger, they think that violence is an acceptable response to anger.
  • They haven’t learned to respect other people or their property.
  • They grew up in an environment where parents are perceived to be weak, especially their mother (mothers are the usual victims of teen violence).
  • They may be abusing substances like alcohol or drugs.
  • They may have a pre-existing, undiagnosed behavioral condition. At times, this condition may be exacerbated by substance abuse, leading to violence.

Depending on the severity of the situation, there are different ways to handle teens that are violent towards their parents and siblings. Typically, teens start out with violent behavior on their siblings. If they get away with it, the behavior escalates over time. Hitting their siblings, being verbally abusive on them, hair-pulling, and other similar behavior needs to be called out and stopped immediately before it progresses to more violence and is directed towards parents, who are the authority figures of the home.

Here are some tips that may help parents with violent teens:

  • Cool down – Avoid talking your teen when he/she is still angry or at the height of an emotional outburst. It’s also not a good idea to go into their room or territory at home when they are angry. Wait for your teen to cool down before you talk.
  • Acknowledge the problem – Parents often make excuses for violent teens. They tend to play down the incidents where their teens become violent towards them and pretend that it’s not serious, hoping that their teens will outgrow this eventually.
  • Set consequences – Parents need to understand the importance of setting consequences for their teens’ actions. During this time of their life, teens are already seeking independence and trying out their wings. However, if your teen is to mature properly, he/she must also learn to accept the consequences that come with bad decision-making.
  • Take a closer look – Sometimes teens develop violent behavior suddenly. If your teen’s violence is out of character, it’s possible that your teen is going through something emotionally tumultuous and is not handling it well. Talking to your teen about it or asking his/her friends may give you clues on how to better help your child.
  • Secure yourself and your home – In extreme circumstances where your teen’s violent outbursts put you and your smaller children in harm’s way, it’s best to take your teen out of the home temporarily. Make this clear to your teen when you talk about consequences. You can arrange for your teen to go be sent to a therapeutic boarding school or boot camp the next time he/she has a violent outburst, or you can call the police when things get really bad.
  • Get professional help – Sending abusive violent teens to therapy can turn their life around. For teens that need more help than others, you can actually consider intensive therapy with the curriculum. These schools are trained to handle this kind of problem. They can fill young students’ schedules with more productive things to do and channel their energies to good use rather than aggression.

During adolescent period, teens are typically oppositional of their parents. Their need for independence is often at odds with their interaction with their parents. It’s also the time in their life when the influence of their peers seems to be more important to them. They’re a lot more concerned about their thoughts and appear more self-absorbed. At times, parents need to take a step back and give their teens room to grow. However, intervention and punishments for defiant teens should be considered when their defiant and hostile behavior begins to adversely affect their social, academic, and family life.

It’s also important to help your teens understand boundaries and limits to their behavior so that they’ll know what kind of behavior is acceptable and which ones are not. The earlier parents start establishing boundaries for teens, the better. After all, teens are almost adults, and parents cannot really force their adult children to do anything they want to do.

Developing a good relationship with your teen doesn’t mean agreeing with them all the time. Setting boundaries, being consistent with house rules and spending a lot of quality time with them is very important. Making the effort to have sit-down family dinners or spending time with them over the weekend for a little quality family time is a great place to start.