He is starting to look and think more like a man – but the frustration with the reality of still being classed as a kid can take its toll on a teenage boy’s anger levels.
Some teen boys are described as ticking time bombs by their parents, any wrong move or word could set them off on a rant of screaming and shouting, slamming doors and destroying furniture. Anger is a volatile emotion these boys grapple with, but it is just that – an emotion, not a behaviour. So how can parents help their sons deal with this emotion which can turn their loving sons into abrasive, rude and at times downright dangerous family members?
Toddlers are renowned for terrific tantrums. They throw themselves on the floor, throw toys and any other objects within reach around them or at others, they shout and cry, kick their arms and legs, and cause a great fuss. Parental reactions range from complete disregard and apathy for the child’s behaviour, to screaming at the child or trying to reason with the upset child to stop. Teenage behaviour and egocentric tendencies can be likened to those of toddlers at times. Parents continue to use similar strategies they did when their boys were young to try to manage their angry outbursts – opting to ignore, fight or reason with him, with differing results.
Strong Mothers, Strong Sons author Dr Meg Meeker says a lot of anger in boys starts to appear around the same time as puberty hits, when they desire more independence from their parents but struggle with not being given the freedom of an adult. That frustration is voiced through angry outbursts and actions towards parents and other family members.
Dr Meeker offers parents tips to dealing with their son’s anger;
Help him deal with his anger like a broken leg. Don’t use an accusatory tone when responding to him, but rather a comforting one which shows him you want to help him with whatever he is struggling with.
Go back to basics – use timeout. Give him time to calm down before trying to listen/identify or help him with his problem.
Don’t be afraid of his anger, but set ground rules for it. Let him know he is free to express his anger, but he is not allowed to use obscene language, call people names, use physical violence or damage furniture in the process. Set out clear consequences for breaking these rules.
Don’t make excuses for his anger. Boys need to learn feelings are not behaviours – teaching him to separate feelings from behaviours is crucial to his healthy development.
He needs you. Many parents think their teenage sons need more time with peers and less time with parents, however, numerous studies have shown the opposite is true. Teens need parental time, showing your son you are there for him and part of his “growing up” journey will help to disperse some of his anger.
Keep your ears open. Teach yourself to listen to him, sometimes boys just need to be heard. It can be difficult to sit and just listen when you are busy or frustrated about the situation at hand – but listening without interruption will show him you support him and help him manage his anger in the future.