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Aggressive teens: everything you need to know to tackle it

Grecia De Flores
4 min read

Adolescence brings many changes both physical and behavioral.

It is a stage in which independence and relationships between their peers are sought, the activities that they used to do as children go to another plane, they face the change of life from childhood to adulthood.

For its part, aggressiveness is any directed behavior that is done with the intention of hurting. This behavior has the objective of keeping us safe from dangerous stimuli or defending ourselves, so it is a behavior that falls within “normal”.

However, aggressive adolescents make use of these normal behaviors in inappropriate contexts or in a high duration and frequency.

They become a combination that worries many parents, but as we have said before, this behavior is normal, so it is important to note that they could be being aggressive as a mechanism to defend themselves from some context or situation in which they feel threatened.

Adolescence especially is a potentiator of these aggressive behaviors because they could feel threatened, precisely because of all the changes that it implies and not knowing how to regulate it.

Aggressive teens: everything you need to know to tackle it – Parent Stuff
They could be being aggressive as a defense mechanism

Where does aggressiveness in adolescents come from?

Aggression can occur in two ways, in the first we can see aggressive behavior in the form of a reaction, which is intended to hurt, but has not been planned. This usually arises as the result of some provocation.

And on the other hand we find the aggression planned in advance, which aims to hurt in order to obtain something from another person or through him. Aggression can also be towards oneself and not necessarily towards others.

For its part, adolescence involves processes such as new love relationships, new friends, changes in dynamics with peers, search for identity and independence.

Due to this, regulating emotions such as frustration or anger is a complicated process, since adolescents are threatened by a lack of independence.

Especially on those occasions in which the parents could be authoritarian, overprotective or without clear limits, since in these cases the expectations of the parents and the realities of the adolescents do not coincide.

This frustration that does not understand how to channel, ends up turned into aggressiveness and potential search for risky environments.

Aggressive teens: everything you need to know to tackle it – Parent Stuff
Aggressive behavior

Social influence may be the root

Harvard University's Ph.D. in psychology Robert Epstein explains that irresponsible behavior and emotional instability are subject to social influence.

It states that adolescents perceive themselves rejected, which is why they use various aggressive behaviors as part of their defense mechanism.

Not considering their individualities can bring negative consequences, it is important to understand the complexity of this stage and allow them to explore it by setting clear limits and helping them to manage strong emotions, understanding the reasons and circumstances for which they feel threatened.

How to deal with these aggressive episodes?

When talking about emotional regulation, it refers to the ability and ability that each human being possesses to effectively manage their emotions.

This means that we are capable of moderating the intensity, duration or frequency of emotions, which is sometimes not an easy job.

However, it is a possible job, when managing our own emotions, and when helping our adolescents in this task, we must take into account that the expression of said emotion must be effective.

Aggression against something or someone can be, as we have said, a reaction to the circumstances, that is, the emotion was expressed in that way, but the important thing is that this expression can be useful.

Key data to face this situation

  • Parents are the example to follow, I need to regulate emotionally in order to help the adolescent.

  • Good communication, assertive communication makes it possible to understand the other and thus be able to make them feel listened to and supported.

  • Validate their emotions, that is, understand why a person behaves the way they do, and recognize how they feel. This does not necessarily mean being right, but it will make you feel heard and valued.

  • Prevention, by talking to teens and giving them our support, this can make it easier to give advice and not have to come to discussions.

  • Letting them know what they do well, this will help reinforce their autonomy, trust and bond.

When to go to a specialist?

When the aggressions are very frequent, in inappropriate or intense contexts, it is advisable to seek psychological support. As well as if these behaviors bring negative consequences for the adolescent or their environment.

In addition, if aggressive behaviors are oriented towards the adolescent himself or physically attack another family member, it is necessary to consult a specialist.