Anger is the emotional drive to defeat someone who opposes us. Aggression is an attempt to intimidate the enemy.
A Note From The L.A. Teen Therapist
Did you know that anger and aggression are programmed into us? – Sandra
In modern civilization, we are no longer required to defend against marauding neighbors or predatory animals. Yet, the need to “win” against a perceived enemy persists. People do not want to “lose,” and feel justified in attacking someone they experience as hurting them. Anger control, on the other hand, is a learned behavior.
For example, if you experience the behavior or words of your teen as upsetting, your response may actually empower them to continue. However, if you stop outwardly reacting to them, repeating the words or behavior stops being fun for them. The solution lies in changing your thoughts about their behavior. Their behavior stops when their reward stops.
Provoking behavior on the part of your teen does not imply evil intentions. Provoking you may originate from a desire to liven up their life experience. Your teen may be feeling irritated or bored. Some teens seek out their parent’s negative attention in an attempt to connect. It is important to remember that your child is not your enemy.
The people who are closest to us sometimes treat us the worst. They know us well, and can push our buttons. How you respond to your teen can help resolve or perpetuate the problem. If you find yourself repeatedly getting angry at your teen, you may want to consider in what ways are you contributing to the situation? Remember, if you change your response, you change the dance.
By trying to stop them from expressing their upset towards you, you invite them to continue because you have given them power over you. When you retaliate with your own anger, you may even be proving their point that “you don’t listen” or “you don’t care.” Yet, by not appearing like you are trying to stop them, you take away their momentum.
There is a difference between defending oneself and explaining oneself. Defending can be also experienced as confrontational. Apologizing can go a long way to resolving conflict. “I am sorry I hurt you. That wasn’t my intention.” If you retaliate against them, they will probably keep attacking. It is better to take a break and continue again when you are calmer.
You don’t have to give teens everything that they want. However, boundaries can be imposed with kindness and respect.
(acknowledging Izzy Kalman)
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