Aggressive adolescents are of great concern to parents and the community at large. Many adolescent psychologists believe that relationships rescue struggling teens, not punishment. I see all aggressive behaviour as a cry for help. Your child needs empathy, care, understanding and strong structure. He or she also needs to understand why irritability and anger arise in the teenage years. Explain hormone issues and anger management.
How to help your teen and restore communication
- Listen to your child. Pay attention to what he or she says even if you don’t agree. Let them say what they want to but don’t allow them just to do whatever they want. Normal limits are always necessary and the duty of a parent.
- Stop all aggressive behaviour towards your teen. No shouting, yelling, insulting or hitting. Children learn aggression if they witness it in adults. Rather give clear rules about what you want to see. Let your child know during a calm time which behaviours upset you and which behaviours are acceptable.
- Do not insult your child’s character, or swear at your teen. Try to have a conversation where you don’t accuse or reprimand the child. Always calm down first by breathing deeply or thinking things through before reacting.
- If you want respect, consideration and kindness then as parents you need to be the example.
- Make sure your child understands that you will always love them even if you don’t approve of specific things.
Demonstrate problem-solving skills. Talk about how to think and talk through a problem acknowledging different sides. Show them how to resolve conflict and plan a strategy. Help your teen to set personal goals.
- Expose your teen to positive role models, especially adult men you admire. Find books or movies about people who help others and have succeeded in life.
- A busy teen is a safe teen. Encourage sport, community volunteering and positive hobbies.
- Teach your teen how to manage angry feelings. Teens often battle to calm down and inhibit their aggressive reactions. Teach them to breathe deeply and reach toward a calm state as soon as anger rises.
- Having an inner conversation can help your teen apply the brakes – practice these words: “I don’t need to be angry. I must calm down and try and find another solution”.
- Not all serious family problems can be solved without outside help. Contact counseling services to get the details of someone in your area who can facilitate changes in your family dynamic.
Find tips on how to be more assertive in my “Strong Mothering” blogpost.