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Date: 23rd October, 2021
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Anger Management Courses: Warning Signs for a Teen with Anger Problems

Many parents recognize that their teen has a problem with anger management. They feel their teen needs to develop anger management skills, or needs to find some kind of anger management counseling that will help them get along better in life -- in school, at work, with a parent, with siblings, and others. In some cases, professionals may have diagnosed a teenager with a “conduct disorder”, or “oppositional defiant disorder” beginning in adolescence. This site is to help parents be aware of specific warning signs that may indicate if a teenager has an anger management problem more significant than what is to normally be expected.

Types of Anger

The natural response to fear is to fight it or avoid it. When confronted with fear, animals and humans both go into “fight or flight”, “violence or silence”, or “gun or run”. They engage in the conflict, or they withdraw. Though many parents may equate “adolescent anger management” with the “fight-violence-gun,” uncontrollable rage, parents must also recognize that anger may be “turned inwards” in the “flight-silence-run” mode, which can often times be as dangerous, if not more so, than expressed anger.

The author of this information is a therapist at a program for struggling teens. As a therapist working at a youth program, he has learned, observed and verified the following trends. Generally, anger falls into three main categories: 1) Fight, 2) Flight, or 3) Pretend to be “Flighting”, while finding indirect ways to Fight. Most teens with anger management problems will go to either extreme of fight or flight. They tend to become aggressive, mean, and hostile, or they withdraw into themselves and become extremely silent, silently stubborn, and depressed.

“The Fighters”: Teen Anger Turned to Aggression

“The fighters” are pretty simple to recognize. They are aggressive. Many times, the characteristics of teens with anger management problems are included in the professional diagnosis for “Conduct Disorder” or an “Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)”. Some of the warning signs in the following list are taken from the criteria for professional diagnosis (click here for more information). Others are additional common signs of anger management problems for teens that are “fighters”.

  • Openly and often defiant of requests
  • Often demeans or swears directly to parent or others in authority positions
  • Has left holes in walls and doors from violent outbursts
  • Loud and yelling
  • Frequently vocalizes anger
  • Makes threats
  • Seems to have “emotional diarrhea”, and “lets it all out, all the time”
    Furious temper.
  • Uncontrollable fits of rage (usually these “teenage temper tantrums” are used as threats to get their way)
    Difficulty accepting a “No” answer
  • Does not follow rules
  • Often feels rules are “stupid”, or don’t apply
  • Destroys property
  • Physically cruel to animals
  • Physically cruel to people
  • Initiates fights with others
  • Seriously violates rules (at home, in school, or society in general)

This list does not list every possible warning sign for the “fighters”. The teen “Fighters” have anger management problems when the problems are creating an unsafe situation for themselves, for others, or for property around them. If animals and/or people are the focus of the anger and aggression, the problem is extremely critical to address. Teens who have abused animals or people as children, or as teens, are at a higher risk of becoming a threat to society than those who have not. Where these warning signs seem to be a part of daily life, intervention is strongly suggested. Intervention can be through anger management counseling, an anger management program, or a program dedicated and experienced in working with teenagers with anger management problems.

“The ‘Flighters’”: Teen Anger Turned to Passive Responses

The “Flighters” can also be fairly simple to recognize. They are passive. They do not fight back when confronted. Many of their characteristics may coincide with the diagnosis of depression. Some of these warning signs are taken from the professional diagnosis for depression, and others are taken from learning, observations and experience.

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