Helping Children With Destructive Behaviors

We all experience frustration and anger. That’s just a part of being a human. Most of us learn how to curb our frustration and anger so that we’re not lashing out at those around us. Toddlers who are corrected tend to learn that throwing things or hitting other people is not acceptable.

It can be a different situation for teens when their anger is uncontrolled and escalates into destructive and violent behaviors.

Parents must address uncontrolled anger in their teens before it is allowed to escalate. A toddler being violent is not as much of a threat as a teenager. A teenager can find himself in some serious trouble if he is angry, violent, destructive, and more.

What can be done about it?

How can you help your troubled teen find his way back off the edge of this cliff of destruction and violence?

Start with your behavior

Parenting a teen can be completely overwhelming, frustrating, and infused with emotions that you don’t know how to handle. It can almost feel as though you don’t recognize the person your child has grown into. It’s important to remember that no matter what your troubled teen is going through, it is unlikely that it’s a sign you’ve failed as a parent.

Instead of looking to assign blame for what you’re all going through, focus on what you can control and on the needs of your teen:

  • Control your stress levels. It’s understandable to be feeling stressed. Find ways to manage it so that you can approach your teen with a level head.
  • Don’t fight your teen’s anger and destruction with more anger and destruction. If your teen is acting out, you need to do your part not to escalate the situation.
  • Protect other members of the family and pets from violent behavior when it is necessary.
  • If you get angry or frustrated, demonstrate healthy coping mechanisms. If your teen is watching you lose your temper, get violent or punch holes in the wall, it can be easy to figure out where he’s learning this behavior.

Getting help for your teen and for other members of the family who are struggling can be beneficial. Reaching out for help with your troubled teen is not a sign of failure. It’s a sign of simply needing additional help and resources for every member of the family.

Whether you turn to individual therapy, family therapy, or consider a residential treatment center, the right help is important to pursue.

Is there an underlying cause?

You might be able to pinpoint just one situation or factor as being the underlying cause of your troubled teen’s destructive or violent behavior. Or it could be a bit more complex and might be stemming from trauma, stress, difficulties at home, or untreated mental health concerns.

For most of us, anger bubbles to the surface because we struggle with something or can’t control a situation. For some, it might become a concern because of mental illness stepping in the way.

The best way to determine what’s going on with your destructive or violent teen is to get them the right therapeutic help they need.

Warning signs of teen violence and destructive behaviors

While your teen may fly off the handle and react with anger and violence without being provoked, there’s are a few warning signs to be aware of:

  • Being obsessed with weapons or playing with weapons of any type.
  • Obsessively seeking out violent movies, video games, or websites that glorify violence.
  • Making threats against others or bullying peers and siblings.
  • Writing about or talking about violent acts that he would like to commit against others.
  • Showing aggression to younger siblings or pets in the home.

If your teen is also showing some of the signs of being depressed, do not hesitate to get him the help he needs. The signs of depression can vary significantly between individuals but may include some of the following.

  • Difficulties at school
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Running away from home
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Reckless behavior
  • Social isolation

Engaging with an angry teen

Living with a teen is sure to expose you to your fair share of teen angst. When it goes beyond angst and is pure anger, it can be hard to know how to engage with a teen who is being verbally and potentially physically abusive.

Lay the foundation for communication and boundaries. Before things escalate, take the time to establish the household rules, boundaries, and the consequences for violating the rules and boundaries of the household.

As an example, if your teen is violent or punches a wall, or breaks something in the home, they will need to face the consequences of their behavior. This could include losing privileges or even getting the authorities involved.

Recognize the signs of an anger and violent behavior.

Does your pace before the anger explodes?

Does he get headaches or get emotional and irrational before a violent outburst?

When you and your teen can identify the signs, you can determine some of the triggers that could result in an outburst. You’ll both be able to address the anger before it escalates into violence or destructive behavior.

Work with your teen to find healthy ways that he can relieve the anger that he’s feeling. Physical activity is well known for being an excellent way to burn off anger and frustration. Team sports like football or basketball are a good option. Taking up running or riding bikes can also be a great option. Teens may enjoy dancing or turning to art or journaling to express themselves creatively. Let them find what works for them.

Make sure that you give your teen the space that he needs to retreat when he’s angry. Cooling off in a safe space can help him reset his anger before it escalates into violence and destruction. Don’t chase after your teen or demand that he explains or apologizes while he is still in an escalated mindset. This can potentially prolong or even escalate the situation. It could also provoke a physical outburst.

Get help for your troubled teen

No one deserves to live their life in fear of someone in their home. The other members of your family deserve to feel safe. Your troubled teen also deserves to get the very best in help so that he can learn to control his anger before his behavior gets him into trouble with the law.

Setting boundaries and establishing consequences for violation of the boundaries is a good start. To truly help your teen, it’ll prove helpful to get help from outside resources. Therapy for the individual and the family can bring a great many benefits.

Residential treatment centers can remove your teen from the home while offering him the ability to focus on healing. Some teens benefit from a military type of school that will give them the structure and support they need to address their anger.

Help Your Teen Now offers parents the ability to connect with the resources they need to help every member of the family get the help and support they need.

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