Skip to main content

What causes teen anger? When it’s normal behavior vs. something serious

As we exit the toddler years we expect the fits and tantrums to subside, right? Wrong. During the teenage years, you may begin seeing some of the same angry behaviors reemerge. From door slamming to shouting, teenagers can become tumultuous.

You may find yourself tiptoeing around your teen or bracing yourself for what type of attitude she will bring with her when she walks through the door. You have seen the teen stereotypes — eye rolling, talking back, and heavy sighing — but when it comes to teen anger, deciphering what is normal can be challenging.

The right (and wrong) ways to discipline stubborn teens

Becoming angry is a feeling we all experience and is completely normal. How many times have you shouted at a car that cut you off or rolled your eyes while answering an email? However, you may begin noticing your teen’s anger seems to be more frequent and louder than what you consider the norm.

When you ask your teen why he is mad, his list may seem endless or he may grunt at you and never answer the question. What causes teen anger can typically be reduced to a couple of major changes in a teen’s life.

Learn more about what causes teen anger and explore tips for dealing with these dicey times. More importantly, discover when it is time to seek help for your teen’s anger.

What causes teen anger?

Teen anger can stem from many factors, both internal and external. Although the reasons your teen is becoming angry may change from day to day, the causes of those feelings can typically be boiled down to two reasons: hormones and stress.


Your teen is experiencing puberty and the changes to your teen’s body do not stop at their physical appearance. Along with growth spurts, acne, and body hair, your teens are also experiencing shifts within their bodies, too.

During puberty, your teen’s brain is developing and this can impact how often your teen experiences emotions and how intensely he experiences those feelings. Did you know your teen’s brain will not even fully develop until years after he graduates high school? In fact, the part of the brain that is responsible for decision-making and regulating emotions is one of the last sections of the brain to finish developing.

Hormonal changes in the body can cause your teen to quickly flip from peaceful to mad without any clear indication that a mood swing is coming. The puberty-induced hormones can also create a more intense feeling of anger than what your teen may be used to experiencing.

Tips to try:

  • Listen to your teen and try to empathize with her feelings
  • Help your teen understand the changes in his body to help him start to better regulate his emotions
  • Offer up strategies like deep breathing exercises or meditations for your teen to try


Being a teenager is hard. Your teen can wear many hats including student, son, friend, athlete, sibling, and employee. Teens learn to balance a difficult workload of multiple assignments, tests, and projects. The increased responsibilities and roles of the middle and high school years can cause a lot of stress, which can in turn make your teen extra grumpy.

Along with the amplified workload, your teen is also navigating social stressors. The fear of being bullied or actually experiencing bullying takes a toll on teens’ mental state. Even just worrying about how to fit in with peer groups is stressful.

On top of the stress, your teen may be staying up late and getting up early to meet all the demands of her day. The lack of adequate sleep can increase the feelings of being stressed and make your teen quick to become angry.

Tips to try:

  • Model and encourage healthy eating and sleeping habits
  • Offer to help your teen create an organizational system to keep track of different demands
  • Encourage your teen to develop a hobby for stress relief like exercising or journaling
father and teen having a talk on a bench
Motortion Fims / Shutterstock

When should I be concerned?

Although experiencing feelings of rage and fluctuating anger is normal for every person, and especially teens going through puberty and the stresses of adolescence, there are warning signs parents need to be aware of.

There are red flag behaviors to watch out for. If your teenager continually threatens to physically harm themselves, you, or others, you should be concerned. Seek immediate professional help if your teen follows through with any threats to cause bodily harm.

Prolonged periods of rage or anger that seem more intense than what is typical for your teen may also be a sign that your teen needs help. Several mental health conditions have anger as a symptom and may be worth exploring with a medical professional. If your teen’s anger is also accompanied by intense feelings of sadness or worthlessness, your teen may need a mental health evaluation. Call a medical professional immediately if your teen demonstrates any suicidal thoughts or actions.

Anger is a human emotion we all experience from time to time. Your teen is going through puberty and experiencing changing hormones which can increase her mood swings. Although anger is normal, understanding where your teen’s anger is coming from can assist you in helping your teen through these tough times.

Editors' Recommendations

Whitney Sandoval
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Whitney Sandoval is a freelance writer and educator living in the Midwest. She writes about parenting, accessibility, and…
Healthy extracurricular activities kids and teens should explore
Turn off the screen and sign up your kids for healthier activities
Kids playing games outside

It's all about Fortnite, Roblox, and YouTube when it comes to what kids do with their free time. But certain activities aren't the best for their minds and bodies, are they? We want our kids to have hobbies that challenge them and help them be smarter than we ever will be. That means getting them involved in healthier extracurricular activities than gaming or staring at a screen, and we can help with that.

Why kids need extracurricular activities
Can't kids just sit and play video games all evening? Tetris is known to improve memory and could help reduce anxiety, so it can't be all bad. While it would be fine to spend a little time gaming, kids need other adventures to stimulate different parts of their brains and get their bodies moving. Kids and teens need to find out what they like, so they have healthy hobbies as adults.
There's no right age to start
Whether your child is 7 or 17, they could sign up for an activity. There are classes for newborns, toddlers, and grade-school age, and we know there are endless activities for high schoolers. Whenever your child shows an interest in something, that's the right time to get them involved.
Kids don't need to do all the things
But it doesn't mean your child should be in nonstop activities all year, every year. You like vacations and time off, and so will your children. Like you get burned out from time to time, a child put into too many activities will, as well. Have open communication with your kids on how they like what they are in, if they want to do more, and if they want to do less.

Read more
What age do babies crawl and when you should worry if they’re not
How to encourage babies to crawl
A baby crawling away from their parent.

Baby's first year is full of super exciting milestones. A monumental one is when your little one begins to be mobile by crawling. Crawling opens up a whole new world for your baby as well as you. Of course, with crawling comes a lot of concerns like what is your baby going to get into as well as worries if your guy or gal isn't. So, at what age do babies crawl? We've got everything you need to know about crawling including what to do if your baby hasn't hit that milestone yet.

At what age do babies crawl
Baby milestones are of course exciting and adorable. Proud parents can't wait to capture those special milestone moments for themselves, family, and friends. Milestones are important for other reasons though. Milestones like rolling over and crawling build upon one another and eventually lead to walking. According to the Mayo Clinic, most babies begin crawling between seven to nine months. Of course, this is only a range which means some little ones may begin crawling earlier or later. Some babies also skip the crawling stage and move right into cruising. There are different types of crawling too. So, let's take a look at common crawling questions parents may have about this monumental milestone.
Types of crawling
For the most part, there are five different types of crawling. Just the like age babies begin to crawl, there isn't a right or a wrong way to do it. The method babies use to crawl is the ideal way for them to do it. These are the basic methods for crawling.

Read more
Sleep sack vs. swaddle: What’s the safest option for putting your baby to sleep?
The pros and cons of a sleep sack vs. swaddle
Baby in a swaddle sleeping.

It's important for everyone in a home with a new baby to get their beauty sleep. Or at least try to. Parents throw their favorite blanket on for a quick nap before the next feeding, and your baby might want something similar. But tiny babies can't rest safely with a loose blanket in their crib. So, what can they sleep with to keep them safe and warm? The two main options include a sleep sack and a swaddle. So, what is a sleep sack, and what is a swaddle? They're both wearable blankets that stay on without going over the face like a loose blanket could. Which should you snuggle your baby in for bed? We'll look at sleep sack vs. swaddle pros and cons so you can choose the safest choice for your tiny tot.

Swaddles: Their uses, benefits, and drawbacks
Best for newborns and babies who can't roll over yet
Swaddling is the first way babies are wrapped up right after being born. Every baby gets that same blanket for their first swaddle, and it's always adorable. A swaddle can be a blanket wrapped tightly to form a baby burrito or a cloth product specifically made with Velcro or another adhesive to wrap the baby.
Why a swaddle?
Swaddles make an infant feel safe and sleep better. Because newborns are used to feeling pressure inside the womb, they get stressed when they are on the outside without that surrounding comfort. A swaddle gives them the feeling of being held tight.

Read more