Although teens are known for their legendary angst and anger, there’s a distinct difference between typical teen rebelliousness and a serious issue known as Angry Teenager Syndrome. Is your teen simply establishing their independence, or do they need interventions to learn to cope?

What is Typical Teen Anger?

As teens navigate who they are, their own beliefs, and the world around them, they become more independent in their thoughts and begin expressing their own points of view. This can lead to arguments revolving around a broad range of topics, from politics to morals and injustice to the freedom they feel they’ve earned. This might seem like anger, but are typical signs your child is becoming a well-adjusted adult.

Becoming more argumentative at home shows they regard your home as a safe forum to test the waters and express their new thoughts and feelings. This is a good thing if your teen seems reasonably content most of the time, and the anger doesn’t become abusive or violent.

What Causes Teen Moodiness and Bursts of Anger?

The combination of teens and anger is often related to hormonal surges that make them more emotional. Hormones also impair their judgment and impact their instincts, which help manage restraint. This is a natural process that helps them develop better decision-making skills, as less logical decisions force them to learn the hard way. Although this is one of life’s cruel jokes, bad judgment helps teens learn the consequences of bad choices, motivating them to make wiser decisions as they mature.

Early Warning Signs of Angry Teenager Syndrome

Escalating anger could be an early warning sign of Angry Teenager Syndrome. For example, if your teen is telling you about something that happened at school and starts gesturing wildly, swearing uncontrollably, getting increasingly angry and interrupting you when you try to help, this is a sign of anger issues. They might also become increasingly impatient with you and other family members for unimportant things, such as someone using the gaming unit when they want it. Other signs teen anger is building include:

  • Use of extreme sarcasm and language that is hurtful
  • No respect for common manners and courtesies
  • Passive aggressiveness, such as excessive eye-rolling
  • Constantly accusing you of making their life miserable

Signs Your Angry Teenager Needs Help

Angry Teenager Syndrome can escalate without warning, leading to the following issues:

  • Getting disproportionately angry over simple things like missing the bus or losing a game
  • Becoming overly aggressive, such as throwing things
  • Physical aggression, such as shoving people and getting into fights
  • Coming home with bruises and scars that might indicate fighting (or self-harming)
  • Sleep issues
  • Speaking of revenge on friends, peers, teachers, etc., your teen perceives as having “wronged” them
  • Noticeable withdrawal at home as well as from friends
  • Taking everything you or other says as a form of criticism, insult, or rejection
  • Never seeming to be content, happy, or motivated by good things in their life
  • You and other family members don’t feel safe

This behavior indicates your teen needs mental health intervention.

How to Deal with Angry Teenagers

You can help your teen calm down using these strategies:

Validate their feelings: Never downplay their emotions to try to keep them calm. Instead, listen to what they are saying and tell them you’re sorry they are going through whatever has upset them. This will reduce the risk of an argument and help establish you as an ally they can trust.

Consider ways to help: There might be something your child wants to change but can’t. Is there anything you can do? For example, if they’re always late for school can you offer them a drive? The goal is not to indulge your child, but instead offer support to help reduce the little things weighing on their minds that are amplifying their anger.

Respect their privacy: Allowing your teen to set reasonable boundaries regarding their private space helps build trust. However, you have to watch for red flags, such as becoming overly secretive or spending too much time alone.

Dealing with an Aggressive Teenager

Whether it’s taking up a sport like tennis, increasing physical activity such as running or offering resources to help them learn relaxation and coping techniques, providing anger outlets can help your teen remain calm when anger surfaces.

It’s important to seek mental health assistance when your teen’s anger presents a threat to themselves, your family, peers, or teachers. In some cases, residential care is needed to provide teens with a more structured environment. This helps them find clarity, direction, and skills to regain control and reach their full potential.

If your teenager needs the structured care and support of a residential treatment center, request more information on our program here.