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Unsafe at Home: What To Do When You Fear Your Adolescent’s Aggressive Behaviors

Teen Behavior

Parenting a teenager, while deeply rewarding, can have its challenging moments. As our kids mature into young adults, it’s not uncommon for their behavior to change; including exhibiting aggressive tendencies. This can be a deeply distressing experience, leaving parents feeling fearful and unsure of how to respond. Understanding the root causes of this behavior and knowing the appropriate steps to take can help you manage the situation effectively and ensure the well-being of you, your family, and your teen.


Causes of Aggression in Teenagers


Sometimes it feels like teenagers' behaviors and attitudes simply change at the drop of a hat. While there may not appear to be any rhyme or reason to these developments, they are often rooted in something deeper. 

  • Hormonal Changes: If you remember being an adolescent then you remember the wild hormonal fluctuations. These changes in brain chemistry can greatly affect mood and behavior and can lead to increased irritability and aggression.
  • Developmental Changes: Navigating the transition from childhood to adulthood is all about establishing identity and seeking independence. To that end, teenagers will often push boundaries and assert themselves more than normal which can lead to conflict. 
  • Mental Health Issues: Adolescents struggling with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder can act out aggressively. Make note of any other concerning or different behavior and consult with a mental health professional before addressing their behavior directly. 
  • External Stressors: Academic pressures, social challenges, family conflicts, and traumatic experiences can contribute to the overall stress your teen is experiencing. If they lack the appropriate coping skills to handle these situations in a healthy manner, they may resort to anger and aggression.
  • Substance Use: Alcohol and drug use can impair judgment and increase the likelihood of aggressive behavior.


Handling an Aggressive Adolescent


  1. Stay Calm & Safe

Your immediate priority should be the safety of yourself and the rest of your family. If you feel threatened or if your teenager’s behavior poses a danger to themselves or others, it’s imperative you take action immediately. Start by removing yourself and other vulnerable people from the vicinity if necessary. If you feel the situation has escalated beyond your control, do not hesitate to contact emergency services. Volatile behavior should never be accepted and the safety of yourself and others is the most important thing. 

  1. Seek Professional Help

In many circumstances, utilizing the help of a licensed therapist or counselor that specializes in adolescent behavior may be necessary. Not only can they offer you advice on handling your teen but they can also provide a therapeutic environment for your child to explore their emotions and deal with the underlying causes of their aggression. 

If you suspect a mental health condition, voice your concerns to your teens therapist and request a psychiatric evaluation. These assessments can help diagnose any potential disorders. If there is a mental health disorder present, work with their provider to create a treatment plan and safety plan in the event of another blow-up.

  1. Establish Clear Boundaries & Consistent Discipline

No matter the cause, angry and aggressive behavior should not be tolerated. Clearly define expected and acceptable behavior for your teenager and lay out the consequences should they demonstrate any behavior deemed inappropriate. Consistency in enforcing these rules is crucial.

Discipline is one side of the coin and positive reinforcement is the other. Encourage and reward good behavior when you see it to help them differentiate between desired outcomes and inappropriate behavior. 

  1. Improve Communication

When things are not so tense, take time to show your teenager that you are genuinely interested in understanding their behavior and perspective. This can help reduce feelings of frustration and isolation that your adolescent may be feeling. Consciously work to express your feelings without blame or judgment. 

  1. Model Appropriate Behavior

Our kids may not always listen to what we say but they do watch how we act. Use this opportunity to demonstrate healthy ways to handle anger and stress. Set the example. A great way to demonstrate healthy coping skills is through self-care. Talk with your teen about your own self-care practice and encourage them to find their own. A calm and composed parent is better equipped to handle a teenager’s aggression.


Resources for Parents


  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

NAMI offers resources, support groups, and information about mental health conditions. They provide a helpline (1-800-950-NAMI) for immediate support. 

  1. Mental Health America (MHA)

MHA provides comprehensive resources on mental health issues, including screening tools and educational materials. 

  1. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

SAMHSA offers a national helpline (1-800-662-HELP) and treatment locators for mental health and substance use disorders. 

  1. Local Counseling Services

Contact local mental health clinics, school counselors, or community centers for access to counseling and support groups tailored to adolescents and families.

  1. Books & Online Resources

Books such as “The Explosive Child” by Ross W. Greene and websites like the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) provide valuable insights and practical advice for managing aggressive behavior. 


You’re Not Alone


Dealing with a teenager’s aggressive behavior can be daunting, but with the right approach and resources, you can help your child navigate this challenging phase. You are not alone—all of us at Stonewater are here to support you and your family. Call us today for more information on the best way to help your adolescent.