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.