Teens can exhibit a variety of intense emotions during adolescence. In fact, this stage of life is characterized by being more emotional versus rational, more impulsive versus cautious. However, it seems that males have a tendency of exhibiting their emotions more than female teens. For instance, male and female adolescents can express anger differently and have different responses to this intense emotion. Of course, this isn’t true for all teens, but typically society teaches males to express their anger outwardly while females learn to keep anger to themselves, expressing it only when it feels safe to do so.
Because of the differences in these experiences, it’s possible that males might be more aggressive, rebellious, and oppositional – particularly during their teen years. However, there are risks and dangers that can come with expressing anger or opposition at the wrong time and in the wrong places. In fact, the result of one’s inability to control anger can lead to damaging one’s relationships at home, school, and work. In extreme cases, failing to appropriately manage anger can lead to domestic violence and child abuse, workplace violence, and divorce. It’s important for parents or caregivers to teach their teens how to manage their anger and use coping tools for facing intense emotions in a healthy way.
Here are some effective ways to manage anger:
- Develop effective coping skills (such as exercising when angry instead of taking it out on someone)
- Develop control over angry responses
- Increase frustration tolerance
- Improve problem-solving strategies
- Replace aggressive behavior with assertive behavior
Emotional health in general is the ability to be able to know what you’re feeling and when. It’s not an easy skill. However, developing this kind of awareness can facilitate knowing what to do when the emotion of anger (or another intense emotion) arises. Emotional health requires taking more breaks to be with yourself, using relaxation techniques, and communicating how you feel to someone you trust before letting that emotion influence your behavior. Emotional health also means taking responsibility for your own emotions. It’s very common for a person who doesn’t know how to manage their feelings to blame others or to make the person they are with responsible for the emotions they’re feeling. This can obviously create discomfort and tension in relationships.
If you’re a parent or caregiver and you want to get a refresher on how to be emotionally healthy before teaching your children, these skills can be learned in therapy, from a community anger management class, or through private instruction. It’s important to know that anger, if not managed or expressed, can lead to psychological concern. Anger turned inward can lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Anger expressed outward in an unhealthy way can lead to violence, bullying, and unhealthy relationships. And other intense emotions, such as grief, sadness, or loneliness, can also contribute to psychological illness.
If you’re already concerned about the emotional and psychological health of your teen, contact a mental health provider for support.
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Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.