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Understanding and Addressing Violence and Aggression in Teens: A Parent’s Guide


The teenage years can be tumultuous, filled with high emotions, growth, and change. Often, parents of teens have trouble distinguishing normal teenager behavior from red flags in teenage behavior. One crucial area of concern is aggression. 

True aggression is not just about teens acting out, it’s about behavior that borders on violent. It’s essential for parents to be informed, proactive, and know when to seek help. If you’re asking yourself, “Why is my teenager angry all the time?” Evolve Treatment is here to provide the support and guidance you need.

Recognizing Aggressive and Violent Behavior in Teens

Spotting the early signs of aggression in teens is crucial for timely intervention. While it’s natural for teenagers to exhibit periods of anger and frustration, certain behaviors like punching walls, exhibiting extreme, uncontrollable anger, or showing aggression towards parents can be concerning.

Types of Aggression in Teens

Teens can display various forms of aggression. Any of the below types of aggression should be considered concerning. If you’re noticing your teen act out in the following ways, reach out to us to learn more about next steps. 

  • Physical aggression: Physically harming others or themselves.
  • Verbal aggression: Using words to hurt or demean others.
  • Relational aggression: Damaging someone’s social relationships, often through gossip or exclusion.
  • Passive aggression: Exhibiting hostility through non-verbal actions, such as intentional procrastination.

Factors Contributing to Aggressive Behavior in Teens

Teenagers can be mysterious and it can be difficult to understand why, precisely, your teen is acting the way they are. Some factors that can trigger aggression in teens include:

Recognizing these factors can help in addressing the root causes and understanding your teen’s behavior.

Impact of Aggression and Violence on Teens and Those Around Them

Unchecked aggression and violence can severely impact a teen’s well-being, leading to deteriorating relationships, isolation, and even legal troubles. It can also strain relationships within families and friends. If your teen has a sibling, the sibling may feel the impact of their aggression. It’s worth it to seek help today if your teen’s aggressive behavior is getting out of control.

Creating a Supportive Environment for Your Teen

The first step in addressing aggressive behavior in your teen is creating a supportive family environment. Educate yourself on the different types of neurodiversity—you may understand something new about your teen’s mind that you never had before. Ensure your home is a safe space for open discussions and emotional expression by not blaming your teen. Remember, they may be having trouble regulating their emotions, and adding parental criticism may be more of a hindrance than a help. 

Finding Communication and Open Dialogue With Your Teen

Open dialogue is pivotal, but it can be hard to start such a difficult conversation—especially if you’re afraid of your teen’s aggression spilling out onto you. Here are a few ways to approach an open dialogue with your teen:

  1. Initiate the conversation. Ask your teen to set 15 minutes aside for a discussion. Preparing them may help them to regulate when the time comes for the conversation. If you’re concerned about your safety, ask another adult like a partner or a friend to be nearby.
  2. Use neutral language where possible. Do not blame your teen—emphasize your concern rather than your anger. Tell them, “I’ve noticed some behavior that’s made me feel concerned.” Give them specific examples of the behavior you’ve noticed. Even if it’s difficult, try to use a neutral tone.
  3. Be patient, listen, and keep an open mind. You may hear or understand something you hadn’t before. 
  4. Let your teen lead the conversation. Address their feelings without judgment and encourage them to express themselves. 

Strategies for Managing Aggression and Violence in Teenagers

Some teens respond better to daily limit-setting than to a conversation. Here are a few ways to guide your teen if you’re noticing aggressive behavior:

  1. Set clear boundaries and consequences.
  • This can sound like: “I cannot let you speak to your sister like that. Please leave the dinner table now. I’m happy to talk things out with you a little later tonight.”
  1. Encourage activities that channel energy positively.
  • This can sound like: “They’re offering boxing lessons at the community center. Want me to sign you up?”
  1. Reinforce positive behavior.
  • This can sound like: “Your guidance counselor said you had a great session with her today. I’m really proud of you.”

Seeking Professional Help for Teenage Aggression

If the above steps don’t work to stop the aggressive behavior, or your teen is unwilling to have a conversation with you, it may be time to seek professional help. At Evolve, we specialize in guiding parents through concerning teenage behavior and leading teens through recovery. In treatment, we address aggression and violence, and offer a comprehensive therapeutic approach to meet your teen’s needs. Our treatment program offers therapies, support groups, and 1-on-1 counseling to guide teens through this difficult time in their lives. 

Get the Support You and Your Teen Need

Carrying the burden of your teen’s aggressive behavior can be exhausting. Recognizing aggression in teens and taking proactive steps can transform your life, your teen’s life, and the lives of everyone in your family. Click below to act now, or learn more about the benefits of sending your teen to residential treatment.

Want more information about how you can support your teen?  Evolve’s Parent Guides are designed to offer insight and assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it normal for teenagers to exhibit anger and aggression?

Yes, it’s normal for teenagers to experience bouts of anger due to hormonal changes. However, persistent aggression is a concern.

Can aggression in teens be treated successfully?

Yes, with timely intervention and the right support, aggression can be managed effectively. At Evolve, we’ve seen many teens recover and go on to live purposeful, happy lives. 

What should I do with a violent teenager?

If your teen is exhibiting violent behavior, it’s crucial to prioritize the safety of you and your family, avoid escalation, and seek professional help. Treatment for teens is available and highly effective.

What are the stages of aggressive behavior?

Aggressive behavior can be categorized and understood through various stages, which can help in predicting, understanding, and even intervening before a situation escalates. Below are some commonly recognized stages of aggressive behavior:

  • Triggering Stage: This is the initial phase where something happens that begins to upset or agitate the individual. It might be something someone said, an event, or any other stimulus.
  • Escalation Stage: The individual’s level of stress and agitation increases. You might see signs of physical restlessness, verbal expressions of discontent, or other signals that indicate growing agitation.
  • Crisis Stage: At this point, the individual is displaying aggressive behavior. It could be verbal aggression, physical aggression, or a combination of both. This is the most dangerous stage, as it’s when harm can occur to the individual or others around them.
  • Recovery Stage: After the aggressive episode, the individual begins to calm down. This doesn’t mean they are entirely calm, but the peak of their aggression has passed. It’s essential to approach the individual cautiously during this stage, as they can quickly revert back to the crisis stage.
  • Post-Crisis Depression Stage: After the aggressive episode and a period of recovery, the individual may feel remorse, guilt, or shame for their actions. This is a period of reflection and can be an opportune time for interventions, counseling, or discussions about the behavior and how to prevent it in the future.

It’s important to note that not every individual will go through all these stages in the same way, and some might skip stages or experience them differently. Recognizing these stages and understanding what’s happening can be crucial for professionals and loved ones who want to intervene or provide support.

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