Aggression and anger are quite normal during the process of growing up. Often, this is seen as a way of getting their own way because they have seen this behaviour modelled during their formative years with the result being that others give in to this behaviour in order to ‘keep the peace’. In the very young child, anger is usually expressed through tantrums and hitting. However, older children, particularly teenagers, may engage in antisocial and risk taking behaviours as a result of their anger and frustration. Whilst some of these behaviours may be considered a normal part of teenage behaviour, violent aggression and delinquency are not.
In most Western cultures, there tends to be an uneasy view to anger expression. Many people are raised with the belief that it is inappropriate to express anger directly and that it is always dangerous. Many people feel that anger must not be tolerated. Because of these beliefs, a lot of people learn to distrust anger, to bottle it up and ignore it. These people tend to express it only in indirect ways or to use it as a weapon. However, anger is also a vitally important part of the self-preservation and self-defence impulse. People who see anger as all negative are also generally reluctant to stand up for themselves.
Anger can also act as a motivational tool giving you the will to carry on where you may have otherwise quit. Look at Martin Luther King who was a prime crusader for human rights. His anger and indignation at the way he and others were so wrongfully treated motivated him to keep going. Anger can also create negative motivational feelings such as the feeling that a person has an entitlement to something or that he is in some way morally wronged in such a way that he may feel justified in performing illegal or immoral acts such as terrorism.
Therefore, it is important that people learn to recognise their anger and to express it in healthy and socially acceptable ways. This means not letting anger get out of control to the point where it negatively acts on health, relationships and other social interactions. Recognising when a person has a problem with their expression of anger is important both for the target of the anger and for the angry person. The problem occurs when a person becomes dependent on anger as a normal way of self expression. It becomes normal behaviour for them to express themselves through anger or threat of violence in order to get what they want. This is harmful for everyone concerned and destroys relationships, employability, as well as the possibility of criminal charges.
Uncontrolled anger also has a negative affect on physical and emotional health. Nobody is born with uncontrollable anger problems and most anger is short lived as a response to some frustrating or abusive situation. Chronic anger response reactions are learned in early childhood through the copying of the people around them. If a child sees the adults in his life acting ina hostile manner to get what they want, the child learns this as a way of getting what he wants. This is seen as normal behaviour to the child and only becomes a problem later on in life when anger becomes his way of controlling those around him.
Sometimes, the victim of the anger can become angry himself such as in the case of abused children. These children will sometimes become so determined to never again let themselves be so vulnerable that they may become aggressive adults for self protection. There may be others who may have been hurt by one or two people from a particular group of people but show hostility against all people from that group of people. Another learned response of aggression is that of the bully. He finds that his hostility is reinforced and rewarded by the respect and fear of others, thus motivating him to continue bullying. Often, the bully is revered and has social status and position so that they are unlikely to see their aggression as being a problem.
So, what are some ways to prevent anger and aggression in your teenager?
Teach your children to respect and value differences. Teach them not to bully, gossip or to threaten others health or happiness in any way. Encourage your child to be involved in the community and their school through sport, music classes, and other groups. Always encourage your child to be open about their feelings. Often if a child is sad, fearful, angry or depressed, the advice from yourself or another adult they trust can be all that is needed to help the child to stay out of trouble. Make sure your child is fully educated about the danger of drugs and alcohol. These can be the source of trouble as the child becomes dependent and often angry at himself for not being able to stay away from the substance. Teach your child other methods of conflict resolution techniques so that they don’t feel the need to resort to violence. Discourage your child from carrying weapons of any type.
Sometimes there are mental illnesses such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder that are a common problem in violent youth. If a child shows unusual aggressive traits, he should be evaluated early so that the future problems may be avoided through proper treatment. Obviously, as a parent, it is important for you to seek help and advice if you believe your child has a problem. Don’t let embarrassment stop you from avoiding future distress for both you and your child.
Annabelle is the owner of http://www.travellintunes.com and has been involved in internet marketing for several years. She is both a mother and a doting grandmother. She has a wide variety of interests and loves to write.