5 Tips for Parenting an Angry Teen or Child

Help your child cope with anger in a healthy, productive way

Parenting an angry child is tough. But it's important to remember that anger is a healthy emotion we all experience. As a parent, you have the opportunity to help your child cope with anger and express those feelings in ways that are productive and healthy. Here are five tips for parenting an angry child:

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Listen More Than You Speak

Angry teen
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Give your child ample opportunity to be heard. Even if you disagree with what's causing your child's anger, or with her opinions, take the time to hear her out. Being angry and feeling unheard can cause your child to act out in ways designed to get your attention and force you to listen; and unfortunately, those measures can also be dangerous. So be extra intentional about being attentive to your child and listening more than you speak.

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Know When to Speak Up

Mother scolding girl, pointing finger
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When you're dealing with an angry child, you have to realize that the intensity of his or her emotions can actually prevent what you have to say from sinking in—no matter how important or valid it is. To increase the chances that your attempts to communicate will be successful, take into consideration timeliness when looking for an opportunity to share your concerns. You may need to wait until you can see that your child has calmed down, or hold out for an occasion when your child is particularly open and communicative. Many times, this will mean putting your thoughts on hold for a day or two, until you can see that your child is ready to talk.

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Provide the Opportunity for Physical Release

Boy diving into a swimming pool
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Does your child like to play basketball? Run? Swim? These types of physical activities can play a significant role in helping your child process and eventually release intense feelings of anger. (In addition, they are a great source of physical exercise!) If it's possible, take steps to exercise or encourage him or her to engage in new physical activities, or take a current exercise regimen to a new level.

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Be Supportive of Your Child's Extended Family Relationships

girl hugging grandfather
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Sometimes it will just "sink in" more readily when your sister or father says to your child the very same things that you've been saying for months. Recognizing that, do what you can to maintain those vital extended family relationships. And if your child doesn't have a special aunt or grandparent around, or if there isn't anyone you really trust to be a positive influence, consider signing your child up for a youth mentoring program like Big Brothers Big Sisters. Their experienced, qualified mentors are trained in listening to kids, helping them to express themselves, and accepting them unconditionally.

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Get Professional Help for Your Teen or Child

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If you've witnessed examples of extreme, unresolved anger for more than two weeks, seek the help of a mental health professional who can provide one-on-one assistance and help your child work through these difficult emotions. Remember, too, that this is not a reflection of your parenting. Whether your child is angry over an absent parent or a recent divorce, he or she may very well need help obtaining the skills necessary to effectively work through those emotions and move on in a way that is healthy and productive. If you've applied the steps outlined above, and you're just not seeing any improvement, give your family doctor a call and put into motion the process of seeking additional help for your child.