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Dealing with Aggressive Teen Behaviour

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 22 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
Teen Behaviour Problems Aggressive

While it can be tempting to think of your teen as a sweet little angel it may be that (s) he is actually acting more than a little devilish. Aggressive teen behaviour has been on the increase recently and it can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time. If you know that your teen has a tendency towards aggressive behaviour don’t assume that there is nothing that you can do about it. As a parent it is your job to be vigilant about such matters, and to try to find help for your teen as needed.

Document the Pattern

One of the most basic steps in dealing with aggressive teen behaviour is to document the pattern. Many teens become aggressive as a way of copying others, after watching “tough guy” movies, when they are stressed out or after they have suffered a disappointment. Begin to observe your teen and it could be that a pattern of aggressive behaviour becomes clear. In your observations note:

  • The time and date of aggressive behaviour.

  • The setting of the aggressive behaviour.

  • The type of aggressive behaviour (for example, shouting, knocking items over, pushing others, etc.).

  • Witnesses of the behaviour.

  • How your teen acted immediately after the incident (within a half an hour) and several hours later.

Identify Your Teen’s Triggers

No doubt when your teen’s pattern of aggressive behaviour becomes clear so too will the triggers that set your teen off. Triggers may be external or internal, or both, but regardless of their origins these triggers usually result in your teen becoming aggressive. Common triggers of aggressive teen behaviour include:

  • Teasing from others.
  • Denial of a certain item/privilege.
  • References to a certain event (such as an embarrassing situation in the past).
  • Portrayals of aggression in the mass media.
  • Feelings of inferiority (such as after losing a race or quiz).
  • Feelings of stupidity (such as when unable to comprehend a subject).
  • Feelings of frustration (such as when turned down for a date).

Confront Your Teen

Many teens may not even understand their own behaviour, so if you choose to confront your teen about their aggressive behaviour do not be surprised if they seem oblivious to the patterns or triggers that you mention. While ultimately you will never be able to control your teen’s behaviour, you do have many options in how you tolerate it. Many parents choose to deal with aggressive teen behaviour by:

  • Requesting that their teen speak openly about his/her thoughts and feelings.

  • Asking their teen to speak with a counsellor or mental health professional about his/her problems.

  • Explaining to their teen that they do not condone such behaviour and that they will be withdrawing rewards (holidays, pocket money, etc.) if it continues.

  • Requiring their teen to apologise for recent aggressive behaviour.

  • Informing their teen of the rules that they believe are appropriate, and the punishments that will result if the teen does not abide by these rules.

  • Asking teachers and school staff to discuss their teen’s behaviour.

  • Asking professionals to stage an intervention with their teen.

  • Calling the police if their teen’s behaviour continues to be aggressive, violent and/or illegal.

Dealing with aggressive teen behaviour can be hard for parents, particularly if they do not understand why their teen is acting in such a way. Understanding your teen’s behaviour is a key to stopping it, so be sure to observe your teen’s behaviour and watch for triggers. If you remain powerless to stop this behaviour enlist the aid of professionals. You may not want to involve others, but you will be glad you did if it stops your teen from hurting him/herself or others.

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From six years of going through these problems I can't take much more.He is aggressive and violent physicaly and verbally abusive.He has been in and out of rehab with no luck or change.They don't keep him long enogh most of the time to see his behavior.He is not dumb he will do what he can and listen the best he can to get out then when back at home his behavior goes right back to the way it was.He is now refusing to go to school.I have called everyone here I know and no one is helping.They only tell me to take him to the emergency room and if he is not agressive at the time he goes then they will not committ him and he will be sent back home with me.Where are we supposed to go?What are we supposed to help him.I am about the the point of letting the state just go ahead and take him.I worry they will want to take all my other children too then.Kids that need help fall through the cracks until they are old enough and then when they do something really bad they go to jail.
ALH - 17-Aug-11 @ 5:09 PM
I don't know what help is available here in the uk. My nephew who is very troubled, aggresive both physical and mentally lived with his father in the USA. The help over there was extremley good, he decided he wanted to live with his mother and step father in the UK and has now gone completely off the rails, here it seems nobody wants to help. No doubt when something awful happens maybe the help may materialise. but of course then it is too late.
jooles - 25-Jul-11 @ 5:06 PM
I have an aggressive teen and all the abuse both phsyical and mental is directed at me and now at my partner. I spent two years asking the doctor, cahms, school, and social for help all to no avail. I have had him arrested twice and now he lives with foster parents. he is almost 16 and we still have no help ie counselling etc. what does he have to do to score high enough on their assessments so they will help us. he is crying out for help but no one is listening as he comes from a "good home".
gibbo - 2-Jun-11 @ 8:58 PM
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