Aggressive teenager

cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Reply
Highlighted
Active scribe

Aggressive teenager

My wife and I are struggling dealing with our angry, increasingly aggressive 13 yr old daughter. She's now refusing to hand over her electronics at night and shouting ensues. She is testing the boundaries, of course, but physical confrontation is something we don't know how to deal with.
Prolific scribe

Re: Aggressive teenager

Hi St George,

I dont have all the answers to these teenagers..God knows they are hard work!! But, in regards to your daughter, some things that should help are:

 

Make sure you and your partner are working as a team..both on the same page and both willing to back the other up on the issue. You will need support..

 

Always keep control of your emotions. When your daughter is going ape crazy on you, keep cool. She needs this. You need this. Many words get said when we lose our cool and we can have regrets. Stay calm, the storm will pass. If she gets to you, leave her for as long as it takes for you to cool down. Then you can go back and talk if necessary. 

 

Stand your ground...you know that shes testing boundaries, you might have seen it before when she was younger well its the same thing now. Ride the storm and dont back down. She needs you to be in control. She needs to feel safe and know that she has boundaries.

 

Just remember, this will pass. If the aggression becomes physical towards anyone in the family, perhaps a psychologist can help.

Active scribe

Re: Aggressive teenager

Hi hippychick,

 

Thanks for your thoughts and advice, particularly speaking as one and being consistent are crucial. Many of those we have tried and continue to try and implement. As for professional help, I think we're up to nine psychologists, psychiatrists and family counsellors since she was four.

 

cheers...

Super contributor

Re: Aggressive teenager

Hey @St_George- You guys definitely sound like you've been through it all.

At 9 psychs I can't imagine there's much you haven't tried.

 

If it helps, the coaching option I mentioned earlier has had some great impacts with teenagers who are very angry a lot and abusive to parents.

 

I'm pretty sure @taokat won't mind sharing her experience with you. She has a pretty similar situation.

 

So we don't take up too much time suggesting things you've already tried, do you want to give a bit of a snapshot of where you guys are at? Just in terms of any answers you've arrived at, diagnoses you've been given, things that have worked, that sort of thing.

Prolific scribe

Re: Aggressive teenager

Hi again...sounds like you have your hands full thats for sure. What is the general opinion of the psychologists? I am sure you must feel at your wits end sometimes. Sometimes I find with headstrong teens, compromise works best..finding a middle ground...also treating them like adults, listening to what they have to say and considering it. But as Ngaio said, I may he telling you things you already have tried...best of luck! God they are so tricky.
Active scribe

Re: Aggressive teenager

How do I contact another member? Can't see any link. Thanks.

Super contributor

Re: Aggressive teenager

Hey @St_George-

 

You just type an @ symbol as soon as you do that a box will appear with "mention someone" at the top. If you have hit reply to a post then the author of that post will always be at the top of the list, then the rest of the people who have posted in that thread will be below. You just click on whoever you are contacting. If you want to mention a parent who hasn't posted yet in that thread you start typing their name and it will appear in the box so you can click on it.

My tip is to type slowly, we use a program that is very big and rolls a little bit slowly sometimes so you need to give it a sec. 

If that doesn't work, let me know. 

Active scribe

Re: Aggressive teenager

Hi @taokat

 

Active scribe

Background to daughter's aggressive teenager

I was asked to provide more background about our daughter.

 

We have been taking her to professional help since she was around 4/5, when she bit and got angry very easily. Anger has been the underlying emotion that we have always been confronted with.

 

She was diagnosed with anxiety by one psychologist when she was six - although that diagnosis was made without meeting our daughter, and just on our description of the behaviour we described. It seemed to tick a lot of boxes then but not any more.

 

Our daughter is 'street smart' and a number of professionals can't see any problems because, I think, she knows what to say when she is in a 1:1 with them. We, the parents, appear to have problems, to such an extent that one psychologist two years ago said "she's fine", you (parents) need to see a family counsellor.  The same psychologist did make one insightful comment: "She controls you (my wife and I) through her anger".  

 

And she's right. After 8 or 9 years of living with an angry child it takes a toil, and we probably have opted for the easy out when we should held our ground and implemented clearly defined and consistent boundaries.

 

Until a couple of years ago, we had good periods (couple of weeks) and then some bad times. But now she is in a virtual permanent state of unpleasantness.

 

We set rules around behaviour, including rewards, but she always wants to debate and argue when she's in a particularly bad mood. And now, as I mentioned in another post, she is refusing at times to hand over her electronics at the agreed time at night. She grabs her laptop and refuses to let it go. A couple of times I (the father) have wrestled the laptop from her grip - but this physical  confrontation is deeply unsettling.

 

Tonight we have friends coming for dinner and she was told she needed to have dinner with us, but she sent a text after school saying she was staying at a friend's. 

 

There are so many situations where we don't know what the right response is... 

Super contributor

Re: Background to daughter's aggressive teenager

That's such a tough situation @St_George- It's not hard to hear how impacting this has been on all your lives.

It is incredibly hard to live with daily anger and many families get worn down by it. So please don't be hard on yourself about where you guys have arrived and what happens as a result. The fact that you're here says much more about you as a parent than your daughter being angry.

 

There are a couple of things that strike me when I read your story. 

The first is that anger is a product of an emotion, not an emotion itself. The base emotions are joy, sadness and fear. Clearly, she's not experiencing joy, so for her to be acting out in an angry way suggests she's either fearful or sad. Because it lives below the anger and because she's so young, you may not find out which one it is or why it's there for some time or ever. You may be able to guess but it doesn't really matter. The idea is to respond to her the way you would if she was crying or frightened.  Speaking calmly and soothingly, asking if she needs a hug, telling her you love her, sitting instead of standing, backing up so she has lots of physical space, touching her warmly if possible, smiling and keeping things light. All the things you would do to cheer her up or calm her down. It may sound ridiculous but if you agree that the aim is to encourage her out of her current mode and into a more appropriate way of interacting then this may help.

 

The second is that kids never do stuff that doesn't work. They are very smart and they don't waste their time engaging in behaviour that doesn't get their needs met. The problem is, often parents misunderstand what those needs are. For example, you may feel that her need is to keep her laptop and you can't understand why she would scream at you when if she asked you nicely you might be more likely to let her have it. But if her need is to engage you, to get your full attention, to have you both fully focused on her and to exert control over you both by affecting your mood and behaviour, BAM, she's nailing it.  

She's using anger because it works. And now, because she's used to it. She's good at it and my guess is her other skills are less developed. She's not nearly as practised at calm discourse as she is at escalated conflict.  

 

I'm sure this is all stuff you've heard before so I apologise in advance. I've worked with many families in the past that are managing really angry kids and I have consistently found that helping parents to see the young person as someone who is sad or fearful and engaging in behaviour purely because it's meeting a need, rather than a despot who is intent on bringing the family to its knees can let parents find the desire to reconnect with their child again.

Because the heartbreak of anger is that ultimately it's very isolating and if your daughter goes into the rest of her life staying this angry she'll most likely be alone. And that's the tragedy.

 

I'm sure @taokat will be able to share some practical tips and if you're interested in coaching just click here to start filling out the registration form.