In some ways, there is nothing more disturbing than an angry teen. There you are, getting along fine with your kid and then suddenly, hormones take over and everything goes downhill fast. Your kid starts to write angry poems, dresses strangely, and tries to stay out late, break the rules, and basically be difficult in every way he possibly can. Some angry teens even get more drastic than that. They can get into relationship problems, have issues with violent and self-destructive behavior, and really go off the deep end in a lot of ways.
The key to dealing with an angry teen is to realize that you were once like that yourself. The same issues that make teens angry never change. We live in a society where we are considered children long after our biology dictates that we are adults. Many angry teens are just trying to accept natural, inborn drives. They become interested in the opposite sex, attempt to to find their identity, and want to go out in the world and have more responsibility. A big part of what makes them angry is that society still sees them as children. They’re suddenly going through all these changes and can’t express their natural drives in a healthy way because our society constrains them.
When my daughter was an angry teen, I initially had the same problems that many parents have. Then, I started to think about what it was like to be that age. I sat down with her and had a long talk about what she was going through, what she wanted, and what we would require as her parents. Just telling angry teens that you understand and showing them that you respect the need for more freedom can do a lot to defuse the situation. Carrying through on that can do even more. If you trust your teenager’s judgment, in general that trust will be rewarded. If you treat your teenager as a child, that teenager is more likely to be childish.
Then again, sometimes things get so bad for an angry teen that you really do need to get some sort of outside help. With my daughter, it was just normal teenage identity things, but a family friend had teenagers with more serious issues. Both their son and daughter were involved in unsavory relationships, using dangerous drugs like alcohol and tobacco, and in general getting into a lot of trouble. This wasn’t your normal angry teen situation. This was a dangerous situation with a lot of risky behavior. They were such angry people that they weren’t amenable to reason. They could not be talked with. They had to both go through long periods of counseling to get better.