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Ask a Professional: Counselling and Anger Management for teen granddaughters

Ask a Professional: Counselling and Anger Management for teen granddaughters

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Linda-ROPro

Ask a Professional: Counselling and Anger Management for teen granddaughters

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My two granddaughters are 13 and 15. They both have anger management issues, more than likely due to their family situation through the years. I desperately want to help them, but not sure which way to turn.

I had a call today from the school to say one of them had argued with a teacher and then threatened her with the fire extinguisher before actually setting it off.

This will be her SEVENTH suspension this year. It all boils down to anger - it doesn't take much to make her angry and when she is, it is very hard to stop her.

My younger granddaughter is similar, but not quite so bad.

I would really love to hear from somebody who have had a similar experience.
Many thanks

Dear @My3sons

It sounds like you and your grand-daughters have been through a lot, and that you are a very caring grandparent.
Difficulties with managing anger are not unusual for teens, but with seven suspensions I can understand why you would be really concerned.

You mention the idea of counselling for your granddaughters, and since it sounds like their family situation has been complex, this sounds like a really good idea. Counselling can help them explore what has happened in the past and how it is contributing to their current feelings and behaviours. Learning anger management skills can be a part of counselling, and it is not unusual for someone to seek counselling for this.

Seeing your GP is a good starting point for accessing counselling in your area. The school may also be able to tell you about local services.

Sometimes teens struggling with anger can be reluctant to have counselling, and particularly if they feel that they are being blamed or that counselling means they need to change who they are.

It can help to start with a conversation about what has been happening, and getting your granddaughter’s perspective on her anger. The focus here is not the recent incident, but the overall pattern. What is it like for her when she gets angry? Is there anything that makes it better or worse? She might be limited in what she can explain about her feelings (sometimes they can be hard to put into words), so it’s best not to press too much if she isn’t able to say. Expressing genuine curiosity about her feelings and thoughts can help her feel cared for and understood.

It generally isn’t enjoyable to be feeling angry a lot of the time, and often people who have difficulties with angry outbursts are also experiencing sadness or fear, so having a conversation also provides an opportunity to express this, and it can open the door to talking about what might be helpful for her (including counselling).

This conversation is something you could do with each granddaughter (separately, as they will likely have different perspectives and experiences).

Aside from professional support, there are some anger management skills that you could work on together, if she is open to it. You might find this guide helpful: https://parents.au.reachout.com/common-concerns/everyday-issues/things-to-try-anger/help-your-teen-m...

Spending time with people who have angry outbursts can be difficult and exhausting. I encourage you to also look after yourself. This can help you recharge and have the energy to continue to provide support to your granddaughters. Regular self-care is important (and there are some tips here: https://parents.au.reachout.com/skills-to-build/wellbeing/self-care-and-teenagers), but if you find that even with regular self-care you are finding it difficult to manage or would just like to talk to someone, I’d also recommend you consider whether it might help for you to have some counselling sessions to support you.

Best wishes,

Linda

Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families, in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.

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