How to Talk to an Angry Teenager

It’s well known that the teen years are the most trying time for parents. It may seem like their rebellion is personal, and that they’re determined to make your home life miserable; but in reality, this is a natural process and they still need you. Your teenager is maturing both physically and emotionally, and their brain is still developing. Hang in there because the good news is when their frontal cortex develops in a few years, you will see a different person. Until that time however, talking to them can feel nearly impossible. Here are some tips for talking to your angry teen.

Change Your Parenting Style

If you have an authoritarian parenting style, you’ll need to switch styles. An authoritarian method of parenting will cause you to butt heads with your teen, resulting in increased anger and lack of resolution. This style can leave little room for nurturing or relationship building. Switch your style to an authoritative style to get better reactions. An authoritative parent explains their reasoning, gives consequences while taking their child’s feelings and other circumstances into consideration, and overall puts a great deal of effort into the relationship they’re developing with their child.


Overall, it’s important to keep lines of communication open with your teen. You can turn anger into dialogue by simply making an effort to listen to and understand your teen, and ensure that you heard them and understand their feelings. Admitting you have messed up also can go a long way. Trying to give advice or enforce rules can break communication down when you need it to stay open. When you do try and enlist them in cooperating offer choices instead of a long lecture.

Your teen is trying to figure out their identity as they go through many hormonal, growth and development changes that are out of their control. Understand that their anger is about asserting themselves or trying to separate themselves as an individual. This is a difficult time, and your teen needs empathy. Stay your child’s safe and secure base, so when they’ve calmed down or are growing out of this phase, they know where to come back.

Frame the Conversation

When it’s time to have a conversation with your teen, first frame the conversation by starting out with how you feel so they know that you’re not angry. Try and keep your tone calm. If they think you’re angry or blaming them they’re more likely to get defensive or shut down. Because they’re unable to fully control their emotions or foresee the consequences of their behavior, they’re highly reactive and will immediately become irrationally angry. To avoid this, let them know that you are irritated, disappointed, or upset, but that you’re not angry with them.

Therapy can help

Although it is important to change the environment at home sometimes outside support for the parent or the teenager is needed first to improve your own well being. We all come from different upbringings that may have not fostered talking out problems or there was not a person you could consistently count on growing up for connection and comfort. In therapy we can work through what this needs to look and feel like for yourself.

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