26 Nov Four Healthy Ways Your Teen Can Vent Their Anger
Parents generally don’t like to see their teens lashing out in anger, punching the wall, shouting at friends, or otherwise failing to manage their feelings, yet intense mood swings are natural and should be expected of teenagers. However, if they can’t express their feelings in a healthy way, it can lead to all sorts of risky behaviors. They might just need a little help learning how to vent their newfound frustrations. If your teen is experiencing tough negative emotions, consider offering these solutions to help them get the bad energy out.
1. Catharsis Therapy
The first tip we suggest is using catharsis. Catharsis is getting out all the anger by expressing it at full force, which can mean yelling insults, letting out a mighty roar, or throwing punches at a pillow. Although, meeting anger with aggression is not always healthy and might teach your teen that all they need to do to feel better is to express violence.
The way to do this in a therapeutically is to ask your teen to yell at you. We know, it sounds weird, but try it out. Even if you have trouble with teenage defiance, they might be interested in this strange trick. Invite your teen to say what makes them upset by taking it out on you. Really! You could try saying, “Hey, why don’t you tell me to leave you alone? Tell me, ‘you don’t understand me! You try to help, but you just make things worse! I just want to hide in my room and play videogames so I can avoid you!’” We understand this is shocking, but if you can facilitate the pretend argument, you won’t be defensive or take things personally. This way your teen can get out everything that’s boiling in their minds, that perhaps wouldn’t come out otherwise, in a healthy, controlled environment.
2. Write It Down
Another way to get out the bad energy in a healthy environment is to put in down in writing. If your teen is angry at someone, suggest that they write a letter to that person expressing how they feel, no matter how nasty or insulting. After getting their negative thoughts from their mind onto the page, toss the letter. There’s a good chance the anger will vent as the note goes into the trash, out of sight and out of mind.
Alternatively, your teen can compose an email draft, text message, or social media post to vent their anger, so long as they delete it instead of sending it through the internet. Maybe they could try putting their laptop or smartphone on ‘airplane mode’ so it doesn’t get posted on accident!
We recommend venting through exercise because sometimes anger and frustration is more of a physical sensation than a plaguing thought. Exercise helps the mind move on, while working out any tension your teen is holding in their body. Remember that aggressive behavior isn’t the best solution to feeling angry, but working out or playing a fun sport could alleviate anger in a healthy way. For this reason, we don’t necessarily recommend hitting the punching bag or wrestling to clear up anger, as your teen might get in the habit of wanting to punch or wrestle something whenever they get frustrated. On the other hand, going for a long walk, jog, or swim could make a huge difference in your teen’s bad mood.
4. Creative Expression
Like writing a letter, using a creative art form is a great way to move anger from the head onto the canvass. You might suggest that your teen compose a picture, throw paint, or sculpt to express their anger in a safe way. If you don’t have art supplies on hand, there are a lot of computer programs and phone apps for creativity, such as a digital sketchpad or photo editing software. Apart from visual art, expression through poetry or songwriting can be very cathartic.
Your teen could also vent their anger by listening to or playing certain types of music. For example, they might be the type to listen to calming music to ease their temper. Conversely, they could be the type to listen to loud, aggressive music to vent their anger as those emotions are present in genres like heavy metal or rap. If they can experience those intense emotions through music, they might not be inclined to let it out through shouting or violence instead.
Dealing with an angry teenager can be a lot like defusing a bomb, pulling the wrong wire can be disastrous. However, we hope you can suggest these four techniques to help your teen safely let out their tension. Everyone is different, so it might take some trial and error to find the strategy that works best for your teen, but we are confident that one of these methods will be a huge help for your teenager.
Author Bio: Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.
Guest blog by Andy Earle, Photo credit: Unsplash