Teenage anger is almost always a part of growing up, but it is not uncommon for parents to wonder if their child’s behavior is normal. Excessive anger may be due to mental illness, drug use or behavioral difficulties, especially when it comes to teenagers. It is normal for teenagers to be moody due to the hormonal and physical changes that occur during puberty, but when mental illness is involved, it can be hard to tell the difference between typical behavior, depression, anxiety and other emotional issues. Adolescent girls, particularly, face pressure on a daily basis. So, what is normal behavior for your teenage daughter and what is not?
Normal Expressions of Anger and Aggression
Anger is a normal emotion, but as children get older, they develop the ability to control their anger more appropriately. By the age of 10, the nature of normal angry behavior changes and becomes more controlled, and more likely to be expressed in appropriate ways. Gone should be the huge temper tantrums, replaced with a more age-appropriate expression of anger. Older children and adolescents often engage in power struggles with parents or caregivers, during which they question rules and requests from authority figures. These power struggles are an attempt to assert themselves and gain control as independent people. This behavior is a normal part of the process of growing into an adult.
When Anger Crosses the Line
When anger and aggression become a concern is when the behavior involves unsuitable or worrisome actions. You can determine whether or not your daughter’s actions have crossed the line by the intensity, frequency and duration of the behaviors. You may struggle to determine for certain when a behavior goes beyond normal, but some signs may indicate that angry or aggressive behavior has exceeded acceptable boundaries.
Generally, when a behavior displayed by your child becomes serious in its intensity and effect on others, professional help may needed. About 5 to 10 percent of teens exhibit serious behaviors on this level, and at least half of those children show other signs of serious mental health or learning issues. Often, these children also have difficulty academically. They may struggle to pay attention or exercise appropriate self-control, and often behave impulsively instead of thinking their behavior through. The tendency for these behavioral extremes to coincide with mental health issues can complicate life for parents at home, teachers at school and professionals in the treatment setting. It is important to remember, however, that angry or aggressive children do not always have additional problems.
Be on the lookout for other concerning behaviors that may tip you off to the fact that your teen is struggling. If you notice that she doesn’t enjoy doing the things she used to with friends and family, if school performance declines, if she refuses to go to school or has problems with memory and concentration or complains of frequent stomachaches or headaches, contact a professional for help. If she expresses feelings of hopelessness, if her hygiene deteriorates, or if you notice a marked change in behavior, experts also advise that parents seek assistance.
The residential treatment and experiential therapy programs offered by Havenwood Academy are designed to assist girls and young women with a variety of emotional and mental challenges, including aggression and abnormal teenage anger.