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Coping with an aggressive teenager

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We’ve all had experience of moody, sulky teenager syndrome; we’ve either been one, or had the pleasure of raising one. But coping with an aggressive teenager is a different kettle of fish. Challenging behaviour from an adolescent is to be expected and usually goes with the territory of raging hormones and bodily changes, but what if that behaviour spills over into aggression, or even violence?

Ask for help

The main thing to remember is that you won’t be the first parent to have an angry or violent teenager brooding away in their bedroom, or taking out their frustrations on you. Often, parents who have been physically or verbally abused by their child don’t tell anyone what is going on, either out of shame, embarrassment or feelings of failure. However, there are a number of support organisations which can offer help and advice if you’re not sure how to tackle the situation for the best.

Support

Family Lives, for example, has experts and advisors on hand 24 hours a day to give you support. Abuse from teenagers is one of the most common concerns voiced by parents who call its advice line – formerly known as Parentline Plus. The charity, which is dedicated to helping families, recommends that counselling for your teen may be helpful if very heated arguments are a regular occurrence. A new unbiased outsider may be able to offer objective insight and help them to understand and manage their anger.

The charity also offers the following tips for dealing with aggressive behaviour:

  • Don’t exhibit aggressive behaviour yourself. For a calm, considerate, non-violent child you have to lead the way.
  • Let them know that feelings of anger are understandable, but that violence is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated.
  • Don’t fight back if your child lashes out. Instead let them know their behaviour is unacceptable and walk away until they have calmed down.
  • Talk to your child’s school to see if the problems are mirrored at school or whether their anger is mainly evident at home. Some schools can offer counselling or link up with a local service.coping with an aggressive teenager
  • Try and make sure your child has confidence in their own ability to make good choices and resist peer pressure.
  • Give your child the opportunity to put their point of view across and explain what they think is unfair in the household and offer them one on one time.
  • Look after yourself and think about your own needs as feeling stressed and run down will make it much more difficult to handle your teenager’s aggressive behaviour. It is important that you are able to remain calm and reduce the likelihood of confrontation.

Dangerous situations

If the situation becomes dangerous and leaving the room or house doesn’t help, you need to think about your own safety as well as that of your teenager. It may be that you will have to consider calling the police to resolve the situation. Although this may seem a drastic measure, the advice is to protect not only yourself and other family members, but also to protect your child from doing something they may later regret.

Other help on offer

There are a range of other organisations which can offer emotional support and practical advice: at such an important developmental stage in life, it’s vital that teenagers learn how to communicate and express anger in a healthy and appropriate manner.

The Family Lives Parentline can be called on 0808 800 222 any time, or you can email [email protected] for a response within three days. The charity also operates an online live chat service at set times throughout the week from which you could receive a response within five minutes, depending on demand.

Other support services include the Samaritans helpline, Youth Access – which details youth organisations and services offering teen counselling – and Young Minds, which supports children and young people with mental health issues and their parents. The Young Minds parent helpline can help if you are worried that your teenager has a mental health problem, such as depression.

Speak to your GP

However, if you do suspect symptoms of depression, or another mental health illness, then it’s worth talking to your GP. He or she can suggest suitable treatment and possibly make a referral for counselling, support groups or other services that may be available in your area.

 

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