Have you ever asked your teen how her day was only to be met with contempt and anger? As children develop into teenagers, seemingly innocuous questions can trigger teens, resulting in anger on her part and confusion on yours. Some amount of teen anger and emotional reactivity is normal as teens try to navigate separating from parents and finding independence, but constant hostility can be a sign to seek help.
Anger issues in teenage girls and strategies to improve communication
When examining your teen’s negative moods, it’s important to distinguish between anger and hostility. Anger describes a reaction to feeling that you’ve been wronged and creates a desire to strike back. Anger is a normal human reaction to certain situations, particularly during adolescence, and well-adjusted teens can manage their anger as it arises.
Hostility, on the other hand, embodies an attitude of defensiveness and waiting for an attack. Hostility leads to antagonism, animosity, hatred, and defiance and is experienced as a more constant emotion of bad intentions. With both anger and hostility, it’s important to keep teen development in the back of your mind.
Teens are searching for a sense of separation and independence, and that is often achieved through aggression. It can be helpful to view your teen’s anger toward you through the lens of seeking independence rather than as a power struggle or a direct rejection of you. This is especially true when you examine the teenage brain, as their frontal lobes are not yet fully developed which can cause them to act impulsively. Premature brains fueled by puberty hormones can cause teens to have extremely short fuses and a roller coaster of emotions.
How you approach conversations with teens experiencing emotional volatility can make a huge difference, so try these tips for improved communication:
1. Acknowledge and validate her emotions – When teens express negative emotions, it’s important to acknowledge how they are feeling and allow that emotion to be present. Use that emotion as a springboard to talk about feelings and how to appropriately respond to that anger.
2. Listen to requests and treat her as a maturing young lady – When teens push boundaries, they are searching for greater independence. If all they hear is a constant no with no communication or explanation, they are more likely to see freedoms as a power struggle rather than an ongoing conversation about responsibilities.
3. Avoid excessive criticism – Teen self-esteem is tenuous and insecurities are likely to be heightened if all your daughter hears from you are critiques about her behavior. Choosing your words carefully and avoiding barking commands at your teen can create a more approachable environment for conversation.
4. Spend quality time together – Even if a teen seems to be craving distance from her parents, she still desires love and attention. Schedule meaningful time together doing activities you know she enjoys. Positive interactions together will create a stronger bond for when she is experiencing low points.
If your daughter is displaying open and consistent hostility toward the people in her life, Asheville Academy can help.
Asheville Academy Can Help
Asheville Academy is the leading therapeutic boarding school for girls aged 10-14. Nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina, our private 97-acre campus provides a tranquil environment where students can reflect, heal, and overcome emotional and academic challenges.
Our program provides an opportunity for families to reconnect and come out of the experience stronger than ever before. We support families by improving communication in the entire family system, removing everyday stressors, and bringing families together during quarterly family seminars. For more information, please call (828) 414-2951.