Tips for Dealing with a Teenager Suffering from Anxiety-Induced Anger Attacks

teenager sitting in window suffering from anxiety

It is common for individuals diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to experience anger attacks. Some may be angry with themselves for their illness and some experience rage instead of anxiety. Growing up in a household of aggression is not easy for anyone, but there are steps that you can take as a parent to help your child through their anger attack.

Before we list the steps you can take to calm your child down, it is essential to acknowledge and accept one thing — your child is not openly choosing to have an anger attack. Yelling, cursing, or fighting will only increase the likelihood that your child’s mood will amplify. Here are some tips:

Tip #1: Realize that anger may be replacing sadness or anxiety.

It can be tricky to decipher whether your teen is having anger attacks because they’re truly angry or because they are hurt. Acts of aggression could be a direct reflection of your teen’s need for love and attention. Figuring out how to feel in a particular situation can be stressful and challenging for the whole family, but especially for teenagers. Approach your teen with love. Even if you are met with hostile behavior, it will resonate with them that you did your best to support them and let them know that you are not a threat, and they don’t need to be violent with you. When that type of anger arises, it is important to note that their brain is in “flight or fight” mode, which mentally and physically prepares your child for an incoming attack.

Tip #2: Come from a place of love and support with QSTUD.

Your first reaction to your child having an angry outburst will likely be to raise your voice right back and engage in a verbal or even physical altercation. Unfortunately, this is not going to calm your teen down. There are four things to help you through your teen’s anger attacks: Quiet, Space, Time, Understanding, and Distractions (QSTUD).

A quiet place is the first step to a teenager learning how to curb their outbursts. Anticipate broken items, screaming, cursing, and noise. They need their space, so give them time to let their anger unfold. Time is another critical tool for an upset teen. Give them time to get out of the “flight or fight” mentality. Give them time to cry, scream, and curse on their own. You don’t need to be involved with how they deal with their anger.

The next step in the QSTUD technique is understanding. This step is important because it helps parents approach their teen in a respectful and de-escalating manner. Understand that it is not your child’s goal to wreak havoc on your lives or to harm you or the family. It will be fairly common for your child to feel immense guilt or shame after their outburst. Distraction is the most crucial part of this de-escalation process. Suggest that they play a video game, go for a walk or run, browse social media, or journal their frustrations — anything to take their mind off their anger and calm them down.

Tip #3: Let your child know that you are there to hear them out after their episode.

It may feel incredibly challenging to sit with your child after they have said and done hurtful things to you. However, they need a parent who acknowledges their anger and does not shun them for such behavior, but instead encourages open communication. Give them the option to talk to you about why they got so angry or what triggered the anger attack. Keep a list of known triggers and avoid them as much as possible. Be patient with your teen as they navigate their journey on how to express their emotions in healthy ways. It will get better — your child loves you. Your support will mean the world to them.

Anxiety is not a battle that you or your child need to go through alone. The team at Achieve Concierge can provide treatment options of all kinds to you and your family. We are committed to providing the highest level of mental wellness care with personalized service that is second to none. To learn more, call us today at (619) 393-5871.

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