I’m sure a lot of parents reading this can relate to the frustration behind your child feeling angry. I’m also sure the teens reading this can relate to the feeling of frustration knowing that their parents don’t understand. At least that’s how I always felt.
We can look at anger as a very simple emotion and draw one simple conclusion…. “Why on earth are you so angry about something so simple?” In reality, the actual answer can be very complex.
As a parent I am sure you are wondering if this is just a phase that your child will grow out of, or if it is a serious problem that needs to be fixed. As a teen I am sure you are wondering the same thing, in addition to wondering, “Why am I so angry all the time?” "Why can’t I be happy?” or “What is causing this?” All of these feelings are very valid.
Looking at anger, we really have to take a step back and look at the underlying cause. For example, in the moment, why do you feel like you got angry or why do you feel like your child got angry? Anger rises due to how we interpret and react to a situation. Did we feel unheard? Misunderstood? Feeling sad? Powerless? Fear? Shame? All these emotions can be leading factors of our anger.
Anger is a secondary emotion. It is a very easy emotion to express, even though we may not be truly feeling that way. There have been many moments in my life where I have felt angry, but have had no idea as to why I was feeling that way. When I was able to take a step back and look at the whole picture it started to become much more understandable.
I’m sure after reading this you might have questions as to how you can support your teen through these emotions, and how you can even support yourself. The answer can be very simple. Ask your teen what they need in that moment. Do they need a break? Allow them to explain what they are going through, don’t write their story for them. Listen to what they have to say, and validate their feelings. Let them educate you on their emotion. When it comes to helping ourselves, we have to take a step back and calm ourselves before we can begin to help them. Don't be afraid to take the time you need to compose yourself before talking to your teen about their emotions.
Anger is so much more than what is shown on the surface, so having some tools in your toolbox to help your teen unpack their feelings will go a long way in understanding their anger, and building a stronger and healthier relationship.