As the parent of a teen, you may expect a level of angst, anger, eye-rolling, and the occasional slammed door after a disagreement. What you may not expect is aggressive behavior that may be verbal and physical. Whether your teen is strictly verbally aggressive or has accelerated his aggression to physical, you must know the proper ways to address it.
Aggressive behavior is unlikely to change on its own. You will need to understand what is behind this behavior to move forward with addressing it effectively.
Why is my teenager so aggressive?
There are so many things that a young person goes through. Each of which can be difficult to work through even in the best times. Being a kid and a teen can be hard, even for those in a stable, well-rounded, and happy home.
Hormonal changes can be a challenge to navigate as a teen. What was no big deal yesterday may become a blown-out-of-proportion issue for your teen today—all due to the hormonal roller coaster that he finds himself on.
Many of the behavioral changes that you’ll see in your child as they grow up are due, in large part, to simply not knowing how to handle their emotions or how to express their feelings healthily.
If your teen is an introvert with low self-esteem, he may not know how to express himself healthily. He may start to lean into aggressive behavior to over-compensate for how poorly he feels about himself.
You may never truly discover what has kicked off significant changes in your teen. It could also take a lot of therapy and working together to get to the bottom.
What causes teenage aggression
While you know that hormones can play a role in your teen’s aggression, you may wonder if there is something more serious that could be to blame. There is any number of factors that could be playing a role in the aggression that you’re seeing in your teen, including the following:
- Children and teens may be resilient. We all tell ourselves this as we introduce new things in their lives. However, they can also be quite sensitive to some changes. If there have been significant changes in your teen’s life, including a divorce or a parent moving out, your teen may not know the appropriate way to express how he feels about it.
- Unresolved trauma can strongly affect a teen’s aggressive behavior. It feels back to not knowing how to appropriately express himself as he tries to cope with the trauma.
- Has your teen recently lost a loved one? Loss is difficult for us all, but it can be challenging for a teen to try and process if he doesn’t yet have or understand what the right coping tools look like.
- Abuse can often be pointed out as being to blame for personality and behavioral shifts in children and teens of all ages. There can be a significant amount of shame associated with abuse, and teens may not feel safe expressing any of it. This can quickly translate to aggression.
- Mental health can play a substantial role in aggressive behavior. Teens could be struggling with several mental health concerns, whether diagnosed or yet to be diagnosed. These could include depression, bipolar disorder, panic and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and PTSD.
- Physical health concerns may also be playing a role in your teen’s behavioral shift. While less commonly diagnosed in the teen years, it can’t be ruled out as a possible cause for your teen’s aggressive behavior.
- Learning disorders such as ADHD. Your teen may find he’s struggling at school, often due to ADHD. This can make him feel frustrated and angry. It can be expressed as aggression.
- Alcohol, drugs, and addiction. Whether we want to think of it or not, many teens experiment with alcohol and drugs. Sometimes it’s experimentation. Sometimes it leads to abuse and addiction. Aggressive behavior and other personality shifts can be seen in teens who are abusing alcohol and drugs with regularity.
Your teen may be struggling with one or more of the above concerns that are contributing to his aggressive behavior. In order to help him work through his aggressive behavior, you need to better understand the underlying causes and work through them first.
What are the three types of aggression?
Do you know what the three types of aggression are? Once you understand each type, you’ll be able to understand your teen’s behaviors better.
1. Reactive-expressive. This type of aggression typically encompasses physical and verbal aggression.
2. Reactive-inexpressive. This form of aggression is typically hostility, which does differ from verbal aggression.
3. Proactive-relational. This aggression type will typically see aggressive behaviors that can harm relationships.
Whether you recognize your teen’s behavior in these descriptions or you’re still unsure of their behavioral patterns, you must work with mental health professionals as you work with your teen through their aggression.
How to talk to an aggressive teen
First and foremost, if your teen is in a heightened state of agitation and aggression, you shouldn’t try to force conversation with them. In this state, remove yourself from the situation, ensure everyone is safe and protected from harm, and return to the conversation when things are calm.
Once things are calm and your teen appears more receptive, you can start the conversation by reinforcing the household rules. Your teen needs to hear and understand the boundaries you establish and also needs to understand the consequences of not sticking to those set limits. You should expect your teen to get angry and potentially aggressive when you start to discuss rules, boundaries, and consequences.
Don’t back down once he starts to react and get agitated. Be sure that you remain cool, calm, and collected. It won’t do any good if you start angry and yell back at him.
If you feel threatened or your teen is physically aggressive, don’t hesitate to get help from law enforcement. Safety should always be your number one priority.
Getting your teen the right kind of help may start with therapy. Therapy should include individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy.
If you’re looking for the right resources to help your aggressive teen, HelpYourTeenNow can help. HelpYourTeenNow focuses on partnering families with the resources that can help address the concerns unique to each situation.