Parenting tips for dealing with aggressive teens

parenting tips for dealing with aggressive teens

All parents who are raising an adolescent will likely have to deal with aggressive behavior at one point or another. There is no denying that this is a time when a parent’s authority is likely to be questioned. Therefore, parents can benefit by learning coping techniques for when such situations arise. Both teens with and without a health disorder may demonstrate such behavior and it will be important to know how to react appropriately.

When aggression occurs

Adolescent frustration is an inevitable scenario sooner or later. Though parenting techniques can obviously differ, the right approach can be attempting to diffuse the situation, as opposed to letting emotion drive arguments out of control. Otherwise, the issue could escalate into violence, which will certainly make matters worse. Likewise, shouting in a raised voice will only jeopardize the scenario as well. It is instead critical for parents to remember that they are to be a role model for their child. There is a way to exercise discipline and be firm without resorting to intimidating behavior.

Of course, there may be times when a heated argument can seem inevitable. Perhaps there has been an ongoing issue that has been persisting for quite some time and it has lead to a breaking point between father and son. In such a case, the best advice could be to walk away from each other and allow each person to cool off separately.

John Gottman, Ph.D. and professor emeritus in Seattle conducted an in-depth “Love Lab” study of relationships spanning 30 years. He unearthed a very fascinating biophysical fact.

During heated arguments and discussions subjects within the study had their pulse rate go way over 100 beats per minute. Researchers determined once one’s pulse rate goes over 95 beats per minute — during an argument — you are no longer able to be rational in your conduct or comments.

Gottman notes, “It becomes a biophysical condition where your system is flooded with adrenaline and other hormones. Your body believes it is in danger and must protect itself at all costs. In other words, it is impossible to safely continue the discussion under these circumstances. Unless you can instantly calm yourself down, you need a Time Out.”

A time out would be a good time for both the teen and the parent to realize why they have gotten so upset, as surely there will be a significant reason in this case. After sufficient time, both can resume talking to each other about the matter, hopefully in a manner that is both more calm and rational.

If violence persists

Whether a teen is experiencing symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder or has simply been pushed to the brink by extreme circumstances, the parent should still walk away if he continues to be violent. This will allow the young person less of an opportunity to lash out at mom or dad and time to calm down. Of course, in more extreme cases, violent behavior may still become a danger as a result. Though a parent can find themselves left with no choice but to contact law enforcement, this should never be ruled out if behavior is serious enough.


Unfortunately, adolescents with more significant behavioral problems may develop a pattern of unruly outbursts over time. Perhaps a boy is distraught due to post traumatic stress disorder, in which a traumatic event has clearly thrown them off of balance. Perhaps family conflict, such as confrontational episodes between spouses is at work. Being bullied at school can also cause a teen to act out due to irritation or low self esteem. Whatever the case may be, it will be important to seek out treatment before the behavior spirals out of control in young adulthood.

Finding help

Consulting a medical professional could be the support an adolescent needs in order to get themselves on the right track. Though a young person’s anger issues may stem from a wide host of circumstances, managing symptoms will require finding the root cause of the response whether it is caused by drug and alcohol use or a mental health disorder.

White River Academy utilizes dual diagnosis, wherein a drug problem or mental health disorder will be dealt with by professionals first and foremost which will address both the aggression and its cause at once, ensuring a better overall recovery. To find out more about our programs, please call today at 866-520-0905 to talk to a member of our team.

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