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Redirect Teens' Violent Impulses

Anger with kids and teens is tricky. It makes sense that they feel out of control with their lives and don't have the appropriate tools to deal with their frustration. A violent impulse could meant that they don’t have the vocabulary to express themselves, maybe they are exploring consequences or simply testing their own power. While this stage is completely normal, here are some tips on how to tame that behavior into something gentler and more productive.

Try teaching them some simple, age appropriate phrases to use instead of violence and swearing. It might take some practice to implement them but try not to get impatient. Language habits are difficult to change, especially in high-pressure situations.

Do not aggressively grab the child when they exhibit these behaviors. This is scary for them and also sends the message that aggression is acceptable. Try to approach the situation kindly but firmly.

Make a mental checklist for yourself every time your child throws a jab. Do you notice any patterns? Maybe they get aggressive when they’re hungry (hey, so do adults) or when they’re in particular situations. Make note and try to stop the behavior preemptively.

Don’t send mixed messages by giving out mixed signals. Encouraging violence one day and condemning it the next will make the lesson impossible to learn.

Provide positive encouragement for positive behavior, especially when they have been able to use their words and express themselves well.

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