for Working with Aggressive Teens
Notice signs of aggression.
Learn to identify clues that a teen is potentially violent. Know
how to defend yourself and how to restrain a client if necessary.
Aggressive teens may not know what to do with their feelings.
Expose them to positive ways to expend energy, like exercising,
drawing and painting, running, playing sports¡ªeven
solving. Most adolescents get angry for good reasons, but
express their anger inappropriately. Teach them how to resolve
conflicts through honest discussion and compromise.
Quiet time. Encourage
young people to take time for themselves, away from noise and
activity. Explain that this calming, quiet time is a gift to themselves.
Shut off the TV.
Studies have linked television with violence and hyperactivity.
It's not just the violent content of TV shows, it's the barrage
of stimulation that makes it hard for kids to focus.
Many adolescents and adults use touch only as a means of control
or showing aggression. By touching our adolescent clients appropriately
(e.g., pats on the back, handshakes), we help them learn a better
way to use their bodies. Do not touch a teen who is angry, however.
Explain the consequences
of violence. When they are relaxed, explain to teens that
as adults, violent behavior can hurt their chances of finding
a job, alienate friends, or lead to jail. Make sure teens understand
that you are simply describing reality, not trying to manipulate
them with guilt or fear.
Role model. By
remaining calm, speaking in a respectful and rational manner,
and never condoning violence, even jokingly, you can exemplify
the behavior we expect from adolescents.
Set clear standards
of behavior. Make certain your clients know that anger is
natural and should be expressed, but that violence is unacceptable
under any circumstances.
Transporting an angry, agitated teens can lead to accidents. Always
warn drivers if a child they are transporting is upset. If he
or she starts to act out while you are on the road, stop the vehicle
and give them time to cool off.
Carlin, M. (1996). Large group treatment of severely disturbed/conduct-disordered
adolescents. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy,
Feindler, E. & Ecton, R. (1986). Adolescent anger control.
New York: Pergamon Press.
Glick, B. (1996). Aggression replacement training in children and
adolescents. In Hatherleigh Guide to Child and Adolescent Therapy.
New York: Hatherleigh Press.
Masters, K. (1992). The angry child: Paper tiger or sleeping
giant? Santa Monica, CA: Psychiatric Hospital Division of
National Medical Enterprises, Inc.
Lagerspetz, K. & Viemero, V. (1986). Television and aggressive
behavior among Finnish children. L. R. Huesman & L. D. Eron
(Eds.).Television and the Aggressive Child: A Cross-National
Comparison, pp. 81-118. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.