Thursday, October 27, 2016

Why Is My Teen So Angry?

Your teen loves you...I promise. Not to excuse their anger and attitude, but there is a biological component to this sometimes overflowing well of anger. First the part of the brain that is in highest activation during adolescence is the Amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. This means that when there is the slightest emotional content in an interaction or an event be it "awesome" or annoying, the teen brain bypasses the more reasonable frontal cortex and heads directly to this emotional volcano. This then colors whatever comes out of their mouths, hello attitude!

Here are some of the many experiences that cause this volcano to erupt, and which then cause collateral damage in their interactions with you. 

Teens get mad because:
  • They hate they way they look
  • They didn't get enough likes on an instagram post
  • They weren't picked for the school play, or sat on the bench for the whole game with no play
  • You asked them to wake up, pick up their clothes, clean their room, bring their dishes to the sink, get off their phone, do their homework, or take out the trash
  • School is hard for them and makes them feel stupid
  • Their best friend ignored them, or said something mean to them
  • You said No to something reasonable 
  • They are being sexually harassed or continually judged on their body at school or on social networks
  • You actually would like to spend some time with them
  • They feel pressure to be the "best little boy/girl in the world
  • They feel awkward in social situations but have to look like they aren't
  • They're exhausted because they stayed up too late because they're afraid to close their eyes and let their feelings wash over them.
  • They want a boyfriend or girlfriend and it's just not happening, making them feel that there is something wrong with them
  • They want to emotionally separate from you like they're supposed to do, but they are so conflicted about giving up mommy and daddy to Mom and Dad, that they bust away rather than   take their time.
  • They want their independence even though their decision-making leaves a lot to be desired right now
  • They want their independence and have shown you by doing fine in school, and taking responsibility for making good decisions and don't understand what more you want from them.
  • They are scared about their future and take our their fear on you..cause where else can they?
  • They are trying to figure out how they are the same as you and how they are different and how to make peace with that.
I could go on forever, but you get the gist. This does not give permission for them to be disrespectful or bullying to you. I just want to give you a framework for where this anger could be coming from. There is definitely a  feeling of loss when your kid becomes a teen. You miss the easiness and the casual affection of the earlier years. But don't fear, it will come back! They are pushing you away to make space for the person they will become. Try not to take their anger personally even though it feels "wicked personal." Respond to disrespect or bullying without getting out of control yourself.  
Try not to get hooked into a back and forth with them. Just leave them be, and when they come asking for a ride, money etc simply say, " I would have cause I love doing things for you, but when you said__________________ or treat me like you did this morning, I choose not to help you out this time. "And truly, leave it at that.

If you're teen was an emotional baby and tough as a toddler, you can be pretty sure that now as a teen you will see the same thing. They are built for hypersensitivity and when the brain is on overload it goes berserk, just like it did during those first few years when their little childhood brains were exploding. Get whatever distance you can, continue to show them love and acceptance. It you've been having a pretty hard time together, a little note on the bed, acknowledging "hey I know we're having a tough time together, but I love you and we'll get through it" can go a long way towards making this time of transition a little bit easier.

Don't forget to tune in Sunday at 8 PM EST for my live Facebook broadcast: Joani's Ten Minute Teen Troubleshooting Parenting Tips. Follow me on Facebook or just look me up, the broadcast is public. This week Teens and sexual harassment: How this election can be used to teach valuable lessons.
Thank you readers for all the sharing and posting. Jus since tuesday hundreds more people are accessing and reading this blog and watching the broadcast!!! Parents are hungry for help, thank you for helping! So keep sharing!!!!

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. My almost 18 yr old is trying out new friends who encourage him to lie to his parents so they can hangout all weekend with no real adult supervision. His reasons for doing this are all listed above.