How to handle violent teens and prevent escalation

Anger can be a challenging emotion to confront introspectively, for teens and adults, alike. This is because it’s often masking much deeper issues such as: inadequacy, frustration, embarrassment, sadness, hurt, fear, and shame.When we as humans can’t find a constructive way to cope with these feelings and emotions, we tend to lash out at society or those closest to us. In any event of anger or rage, we could all use a hug, a little guidance, and perhaps even a spontaneous compliment–especially when dealing with violent teenagers.

Tips for Parents with Violent Teenagers:

  1. Get to the Deeper Issue: Sit your teen down and have a genuine discussion about what’s bothering them. Give them an opportunity to express themselves verbally without and consequences, and really listen to what’s being conveyed. You should be able to recognize the real issues fairly quickly. Once the underlying problem is uncovered and addressed, it is your responsibility to help actively find a constructive solution.

  2. Recognize Anger before Rage Kicks in: Are there consistent warning signs that your teen is about to explode? If so, helping your teen develop self-awareness at these moments can be crucial to diffusing the situation. If given the opportunity to be aware, and thus, in control of our anger, we often come to a logical conclusion that the rage isn’t worth the consequences.

  3. Alternative Expression of Anger: Musicians, writers, painters, dancers, etc. all use artistic forms of expression to communicate their anger to the outside world. Sometimes these expressions can leave detrimental impressions on others, but for the most part they bring no harm to anyone, including the angered artist. Lack of exposure – most times due to poor parenting choices – can sometimes leave teens feeling cornered when it comes to dealing with anger. Introduce your violent teenager to a constructive outlet for expressing their anger, such as: art, exercise, or competition, and reward them for their efforts to better themselves and avoid rage.

  4. Allow for Retreat and Sanctuary: Sometimes the best thing to do for an angry person in rage is to allow them to just be. Give your violent teenager a chance to step away from whatever scenario is causing emotional discomfort, and encourage them to find a place of solitude where they can be left to their thoughts. Introspection is the most powerful diffuser.

  5. Set Boundaries. Establish the Rule and Enforce the Consequences: Simply put, let your teenager know what you will and will not tolerate. And by all means, be sure to maintain your standards or risk losing authority and control over the situation. Choose a time when there are no tempers flaring, or conflicts arising, and talk to your teen about what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Explain to them the dangers and consequences of their actions and provide them with the guidance necessary to walk the straight line. Violent reactions – no matter how valid in the heat of the moment – always have real world repercussions.

Finally, one of the best things you can do as a parent or guardian of angry teen is to manage your own anger. Remember that children learn behavioral patterns through observation. If you want to see a change in your teen, be that change.

If you need assistance in finding constructive ways to interact and communicate with your troubled teen, we encourage you to sign up for Young Generation Movement’s newsletter or contacting us.