Teen Anger Warning Signs

Posted on June 11, 2012

There are several warning signs to look for in adolescents who need help with anger. Is your teenager a Flighter, Pretender, or Fighter?

Flighters are simple to recognize.

They are passive. They do not fight back when confronted. Many of their characteristics may coincide with the diagnosis of depression:                    

  • Tends to spend a lot of time alone
  • Seems to hold anger in
  • Seems depressed
  • Has difficulty expressing emotions
  • Seems to have very little emotion
  • Seems withdrawn
  •  Extremely passive, to the point that they get “walked over” by others
  •  May simply “go along” with whatever, even when it is a poor decision
  • Does not engage in much conversation
  • May blame self unnecessarily
  • Holds anger in, then “blows up” suddenly and violently. May punch holes in walls or kick doors, when “the last straw drops”
  • May be seen as a “loner” 
  • May have few friends
  • Seems “emotionally constipated”

Fighters are in danger of destroying themselves emotionally from within. Flighters are like a balloon being constantly blown into, with no release valve. When they explode, their anger may be violent, and may lead to harming themselves, harming others, or destroying property.

Pretenders characterize teen anger silently planning revenge.

Perhaps the most difficult to detect, the Pretenders follow an anger style that seems to be calm on the surface, but is raging, scheming, and planning underneath. In its mild form, this is the upset waiter who goes in the back room and spits in the demanding client’s soup. In its extreme form, these are the teen gunmen of Columbine and other school shootings. What to look for:

  • Passive-agressive behavior     
  • Sneaky behaviors
  • May go often unnoticed
  • Tendency to sabotage
  • Often gets caught in lies
  • Inconsistency between what is said and what is done
  • May be very good at blaming others
  • May not admit mistakes
  • Tendency to avoid direct conflict, while creating problems in other areas

These teens do not directly confront the anger as a Fighter would do. They will be passive and appear to accept what is said, and then will disregard what is said to do their own thing.

The Fighters represent  teen anger turned to aggression.

Fighters are pretty simple to recognize:

  • They use agression
  • Openly and often defiant of requests
  • Often demeans or swears directly to parent or others in authority positions
  • Has left holes in walls and doors from violent outbursts
  • Loud and yelling
  • Frequently vocalizes anger
  • Makes threats
  •  Seems to have “emotional diarrhea”, and “lets it all out, all the time”
  • Furious temper
  • Uncontrollable fits of rage (usually these “teenage temper tantrums” are used as threats to get their way)
  • Difficulty accepting a “No” answer
  • Does not follow rules
  • Often feels rules are “stupid”, or don’t apply
  • Destroys property

The teen Fighters have anger management problems when the problems are creating an unsafe situation. If animals and/or people are the focus of the anger and aggression, the problem is extremely critical to address. Teens who have abused animals or people as children, or as teens, are at a higher risk of becoming a threat to society than those who have not. Intervention should be through anger management counseling, or an anger management program.

Written by: Rebecca Heger, LMHC, LCAC

Rebecca is licensed in mental health counseling as well as addiction treatment. She focuses on counseling for teenagers and help for young adults in Indianapolis. To contact Rebecca, call (317) 474-6448 x 111 or email Rebecca@groffandassociates.com.

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==