Dominion Hospital - June 24, 2019

It’s no secret that teenagers can be moody, mouthy and downright angry. The good news is that these behaviors are a normal part of development – to a certain extent.

The teen years are a time when children are becoming independent. They’re pushing boundaries and racing toward adulthood. While they may already see themselves as grown up and knowledgeable, the fact is that they’re not. The frontal lobe of their brain – which regulates self-control – doesn’t fully develop until the mid-twenties. Because of this, teens may act impulsively, even angrily, as they navigate life.

For many teenagers, occasional grumpiness, outbursts and arguments are normal as they seek independence and their own identity. You may notice that your teen:

  • Gets upset when you try to give them advice or tell them what to do
  • Argues with you often about privileges, politics, morals and a host of other issues
  • Is overly dramatic, emotional and angry about things both big and small
  • Resents you when forced to spend time away from friends or personal interests
  • Withdraws from family

This is all typical teen behavior, which, while frustrating, isn’t by itself a reason to seek help. However, if your teenager expresses anger in more extreme and dangerous ways, or is always angry or upset, there can be cause for concern.

Here are some anger red flags that indicate the need for professional intervention:

  • that escalates into physical fights with siblings or others in the home
  • Getting into physical fights at school
  • Excessively arguing with you, peers, teachers or siblings
  • Having emotional outbursts that are excessive for the situation or severe rage
  • Being cruel to those who can’t defend themselves (e.g., pets or younger siblings)
  • Constantly defying rules and boundaries
  • Bullying others
  • Threatening others verbally or physically
  • Destroying property
  • Performing self-harm such as cutting

If your teenager exhibits one or more of the above behaviors or appears to be out of control, seek professional help sooner than later. Dominion Hospital’ s First Step counselors are available 24/7 by phone: (703) 538-2872.