Cooling Anger

I got to spend some time earlier this week with my friend, Mark Gregston, a frequent contributor to Living with Teenagers and the founder of Heartlight Ministries out of Texas. Heartlight offers a wide variety of services for families, including a long-term residential counseling facility for troubled teens. Mark also has written several books, leads conferences across North America, and hosts a daily radio program called “Parenting Today’s Teen.”

In a recent blog, Mark discussed the topic of teen anger, especially in the wake of last weekend’s shootings in Arizona. He noted that after such a violent event, it’s not unusual for parents of angry teens to wonder if their child might be next. While the chances of that are slim, Mark does emphasize that teen anger is nothing to brush off.

Anger is a symptom that is expressed through behavior, not the issue itself. The teenager may not even know why they are angry, but finding out what is missing or lost in their life is the key to dealing with it. When you take time to peel back the layers and get to the heart of the matter, you may uncover the real issue that is causing it to boil to the surface.

Mark suggests deeper communication through honest questions, along with sticking to appropriate boundaries, to help your teen work through anger issues. If anger is a symptom, finding the source can take time—and it might be messy. But it can be worth the effort—for both you and your teen.

How have you helped your teen work through anger? What was the most difficult part? What would share with parents who are struggling with the same issue?

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