Like all emotions, anger is a normal response to stressors in your life — everyone feels anger at one point or another, even if they’re typically very calm — but no matter how overwhelming anger can feel, it doesn’t need to take you over. There are many ways you or your teen can begin to notice triggers, know when your “button” is being pushed and learn skills to manage your anger. By focusing on learning anger management activities for teens, you can set yourself or someone you love up for success.
Anger Management Tips for Teens From Change to Chill
Whether the emotions you feel come suddenly or build up over time, here are some tips that can help you to learn to manage your anger.
Recognize What Pushes Your “Button”
When you feel angry, do you ever notice the things that happened leading up to the feeling? Maybe you felt fine until someone used a specific phrase or maybe nothing even seemed to have happened, but you’re suddenly feeling overwhelmed with anger. Triggers are the things that can cause a negative emotional and mental response. You could also think of them as your “anger button” that can be “pushed” by reminders of people you have struggled with or past events.
Triggers and “anger buttons” can be actions or events that remind you of a past difficult experience and cause you to react in a manner that is out of proportion to what is actually happening in the moment. An example may be when you are talking to a friend and having fun, but then your friend uses a phrase or word that reminds you of a terrible fight you had with some else recently. You’re not angry with the person you’re talking to, but all of the sudden this anger bubbles up as if you are having the old argument over again. It seems like it is out of the blue but your “button” has been pushed and you just react. You probably were unaware of the lasting impact of that past negative experience.
The first step in learning to manage your anger is recognizing your triggers or “anger buttons”. Of course, not all anger is caused by triggers or your button getting pushed, but when you are aware of what your “buttons” are, it can help you manage your response. Awareness is key when it comes to changing a habit or managing emotions. Once you recognize a pattern, it is much easier to see it for what it is. It becomes less “you” as you can get distance from the feeling. Sometimes it can help just to make friends with that old pattern or feeling. Hmmm, there’s that old angry feeling again. You could even give it a funny name like “grumpy”. You can name it to tame it.
Calm Down First and Then Express Your Anger Using “I” Statements
When you start to feel anger brewing, calming down can seem like the most difficult thing to do, but it is the most effective way to begin feeling better.
First, take a moment to collect yourself. Close your eyes or remove yourself from the situation if possible. No matter where you are, taking deep breaths can help slow your heart rate and bring you back to a calmer state. Grounding techniques like focusing on one thing that you can see or feel will help a lot as well. For example, you can:
- Look at a tree or bush with curiosity, like you have never seen one before. What does it look like? What color are the leaves? How are the leaves shaped? How does the wind move the leaves and branches?
- Focus on your feet. How do they feel in your shoes? Wiggle one toe at a time. Feel the ground beneath your feet.
- Count the seconds as you breathe in and breathe out. Can you take a deeper breath and breathe out longer?
Once you’re calm, explain how you feel using “I” statements. You have every right to express yourself and your feelings as long as it’s constructive and isn’t lashing out at the other person. Making sure you’re calm and grounding yourself first will help a lot to be able to express yourself constructively. “I” statements can help you to express yourself without judgment or argument with the other person.
“I” statements are a great tool for any emotion that you’re feeling or conversation with another person. When using “I” statements, you want to focus on how you feel rather than on the other person so that you can express yourself without making this person feel attacked. “I” statements allow you to take responsibility for your own feelings while making the other person aware of how you feel and why by saying “I feel ______ because _______.” Oftentimes, frustration and anger arise when there’s a miscommunication and “I” statements can help clear the air without judgment. They also work even if you’re not mad at or having a conversation with anyone else because it can help you name your emotion and clarify to yourself why you feel that way. Maybe you are feeling anger because there are other emotions that you are feeling that are harder to express or define.
Examples of “I” statements:
- “I feel hurt because I was left out of a game with my friends.”
- “I feel embarrassed because I was called on in class but didn’t know the answer.”
- “I feel angry because I was looking forward to something that was canceled.”
Get Some Exercise
Have you ever gone for a walk or run after getting mad, and then discovered it helped you feel a lot better? Exercising and moving around is great for coping with big emotions, especially if you’ve tried breathing and grounding exercises but still feel frustrated.
Whether you’re going for a quick walk, doing jumping jacks or enjoying a few minutes of yoga, getting exercise releases endorphins — hormones in your brain that release negative energy and thoughts and produce feel-good hormones.
You don’t need to run for miles or do your very best at a sport to release endorphins. Getting your body moving can help you combat those negative feelings.
Even when you aren’t mad, practicing mindfulness can help you be able to handle big emotions when they do arise. There are so many ways to start a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness doesn’t have to mean sitting in complete silence for long periods of time. Simply counting breaths, doing guided imagery practices using your imagination of a place you enjoy, or taking a moment to be aware of your current surroundings can help you to rewire your brain and get to a calmer place more quickly. What’s more: having a mindfulness practice in place can help you to work on healing pent-up anger that can cause triggered emotions, decreasing the reactions over time.
There’s no one right way to practice mindfulness, so try different things to see what works best for you. Between meditation apps, YouTube videos and articles on mindfulness, there are plenty of resources that can help you discover what is best for you.
Know When to Get Help
Sometimes you just can’t control your emotions, and that’s ok! If you’ve tried different resources, practiced mindfulness and awareness, but are still struggling with managing your anger, it may be time to get additional help. This help can look like individual or group therapy, working with a specialist, or talking to your doctor about medicine. There’s no shame in doing what you need to be ok. You don’t need to wait until things get unbearably hard. Resources like Change to Chill are able to help as a vital part of self-care.
More Anger Management Activities & Therapy for Teens
Anger is a normal and frequently felt emotion, but that doesn’t mean it needs to control you. At Change to Chill, there are resources for teens, parents and schools looking for ways to deal with a variety of issues that kids deal with every day, including anger management, stress and anxiety, grief, and more. Whether you’re looking for articles and suggestions, school and small group presentations, or more direct resources like counseling, Change to Chill has options to help you or the teen in your life create mindful habits and live a healthier, happier life.