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15-Year-Old with Anger Issues

Question:

My 15-year-old son has had anger issues all his life. How can I get him the help he needs?

Answer:

It’s okay for your son to feel and experience emotions, whether it’s fear, anger or disappointment. How he deals with these emotions is another story.

Sometimes a tragic event, a big disappointment or the loss of a loved one or friend will trigger anger in a person. Since your son has exhibited anger issues for a long time, it would be a good idea to have him undergo a mental health evaluation, if he hasn’t had one already. If he is diagnosed with a behavioral or mental health disorder, then you’ll know what battle you are fighting. If the evaluation doesn’t result in a formal diagnosis, then perhaps arranging for him to see a counselor who could help him develop coping skills and anger management strategies would be a positive option.

Since counseling might be a difficult subject to discuss with your son, find a time when things are calm to talk about it. Start the conversation by saying something positive; being accusatory or complaining might put your son on the defensive, and the conversation might end right there. The positive statement could be a compliment for something he did well during the week or a time when you saw him get control of his anger rather than blowing up.

Then tell him you care about him and are concerned about how his sometimes unacceptable behaviors may be hurting him at home, at school and with his friends.  Make sure he understands that it’s okay to be angry and that people feel what they feel. Also help him understand that how he handles his anger is the most important thing.

You might also visit our teen website, yourlifeyourvoice.org. You’ll find some articles on managing emotions that might be helpful to your son.

As you seek a long-term solution to this issue, you can teach your son some ways to respond when his temper starts to escalate. Help him practice slowly counting to 10, slowly taking three deep breaths or removing himself from the situation that is making him angry. He may not always remember to use these strategies, so offer prompts and reminders whenever possible to help him focus on calming down and heading off an angry outburst. 

And don’t forget: he’s never too old to see you model appropriate ways of handling anger.
 

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