Parenting an Angry Teen

Raising a Teenager is Challenging

Raising a teenager can be one of the most challenging experiences a parent will go through. And being a teenager isn’t easy either.

Teenage anger and pushback is a natural aspect of this phase of development. However, handling it as a parent is anything but natural. I’ve found in my practice, that often women notice they need support when their kids hit the teenage years. Having a teen can activate memories of the parent’s childhood and unresolved aspects of the past. Moms tell me that their therapy is an investment that helps the functioning entire family. They have a place to sort out their feelings and learn ways to parent their teen. If you’re struggling with raising an angry teen, here are some strategies that can help.

Listen, Listen, Listen

Your teen is communicating with you in a variety of ways including words, their actions and behaviors. Sometimes it is very difficult to decipher exactly what they are trying to communicate. It can be a monumental task to listen and be receptive when your child is yelling, angry or pushing your buttons. Your natural reaction may be to defensive or attack back. You can start by giving them feedback that it’s difficult to listen to them when they’re angry and yelling. Rather than offering advice or judgment, listen with genuine curiosity and commitment to understand their experience. Be silent as they express themselves, and ask questions to better understand how they’re feeling. Invite them to add more and make space for them to fully communicate. By modeling your own self management, you are teaching them also how to manage their unmanageable emotions.

Take a Step back

It may be difficult to maintain your composure when your teen provokes you. As an adult, it is important that you maintain control of your responses to your teen, regardless of the feelings triggered in you. Refrain from mirroring your teen’s behavior and avoid yelling, cursing, or name-calling your teen. This will only escalate the argument and will have a long-term impact on your child and your relationship. If you are too angry to engage productively with your teen, let them know you’d like to talk with them, but need a little time to cool down. In this way, you are showing your teen a positive way to manage your anger. When your teen is angry and wants to storm off, let them go instead of following them and trying to continue or resolve the argument. It’s healthy for both of you to give each other space and time to cool off so you can revisit the discussion when you’re both feeling calmer.

Give them Boundaries & Give them Space

Talk with your spouse to set boundaries and determine priorities of issues that can be compromised, and issues that are non-negotiable.For example, if your teen is being verbally abusive or otherwise crossing a boundary, set the ground rules for engagement in a calm, matter-of-fact tone and verbalize your own commitment to follow these rules. Outside of the boundaries, allow your teen their own space to make choices and explore their developing sense of self.

Empathy For Yourself, Empathy for Your Child

Your teen is going through a difficult phase, and needs empathy and understanding. You are also going through a difficult phase and need kindness and compassion.