How can I control my anger as a teen?

The Steps to Teen Anger Management

  • First, kudos to you for asking the question. You’ve just passed through step one - realizing that you need to work on your anger. 
  • Figure out what triggers your anger. Is it when you’re around certain people or in particular situations?  If you can, you’ll want to keep exposure to your triggers at a minimum. Journaling is great tool to keep track of when you get angry, what triggered your anger and how you reacted. This increased self-awareness will help you identify the areas you need to work on. 
  • Pay attention to how anger makes you feel, physically. Your body will alert you when you’re angry. Your face may get red, you may sweat, muscles tense up, or your teeth may clench. Understanding your physical cues to anger will help you realize what’s happening before you get to the anger stage. If you feel a cold coming on you may get more rest or take more vitamins to fight it off. If you feel anger coming on you can do things to prevent it. For example, you can get out of the anger provoking situation, go for a jog, or start taking deep breathes to de-escalate the situation. 
  • Learn your anger response. For example, are you a slammer, yeller, hitter, destructor, crier, bottler (you hold it in), etc.?  By knowing your anger response you can substitute it with a more appropriate one. 
  • It’s important to have positive outlets to blow off anger steam. Things such as biking, running, drawing, or shooting hoops are great ways to release anger. Whatever you enjoy doing, just do it. Anger stirs a lot of energy and keeping it pent up isn’t a good thing. 
  • Now that you’re able to identify your triggers, feel your anger coming on, and are aware of how you respond when you’re angry, you’re ready to change. Change is probably the most difficult step. It requires that you catch yourself getting angry before you actually do and put a different spin on it. Be patient with yourself, and know that it’s going to take a lot of hard work but you can do it. You may not have a whole lot of control over things in life but one thing is certain, you do control your behavior. You are responsible for your decisions and your actions. If you don’t like what anger does to you, then you have the power to change it. 

Good luck!

Kevin Wilson, LPC
To control anger as a teen, I’m really into mindfulness. I refer to this as the longest twelve inches -- the distance from the heart to the head. Teens need to be able to experience the feelings they’re having and not judge them as being good or bad. Being mindful can help a teen change the way he or she thinks about and responds to feelings, like anger. 

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