“I am frightened by my son’s temper. He flies off the handle, swearing, punching things. He can erupt over the smallest things. I don’t know why he is so angry. He’s not a child anymore and it does frighten me when he’s out of control. He is much bigger than I am and he’s getting so strong.”
I am very lucky to have a father-in-law who is a well-respected doctor in Gladstone. He has worked extensively with families over the past 40 years and I have asked him to help me put together some thoughts for this blog post about aggression and teenage boys. Here is our conversation in a nutshell:
Question: I see so many boys become aggressive just as they hit puberty. Do you think hormones have anything to do with it? Can we blame them?
Answer: YES! A surge of testosterone will alter anyone’s mood and behaviour, but I like you to think of it like this. It is the combination of issues that cause extreme problems. Hormones on top of ADHD, on top of excessive use of energy drinks, on top of issues at school, can cause serious issues. Symptoms can come from different root causes but throw them together and you get an escalation.
Question: Could there be something wrong with them?
Answer: Eliminating health issues is one of the first things I do when families, who have big concerns about their teenagers behaviour, come to see me. It is only after we rule out biological and psychological disorders that we can confidently proceed with a plan of attack.
It is always difficult for doctors to be clear about which behaviour is induced by puberty and which isn’t. I think parents share a similar confusion, especially because puberty impacts different children differently. If you think there could be something wrong it is worth the trip to the GP.
Question: Could it be something they are eating?
Answer: Diet is usually a small portion of the problem. Excessive sugar, caffeine and white carbohydrates are known to de-stabilise mood, as does irregular eating. Energy drinks containing caffeine have a huge impact on our teenagers’ moods. When teenagers skip breakfast and replace it with an energy drink they de-stabilise their mood from the very beginning of the day.
Energy drinks aggravate anger and aggression. Alcohol and energy drinks are a bad mix. It both stimulates them and they lose their inhibitions.
Question: They have never slept well. Could this be impacting him?
Answer: Kids usually sleep well. If they aren’t sleeping well there is a reason, like anxiety, depression, energy drinks, bullying, etc. The amount of sleep and the quality of sleep teenagers get is a critical factor in enabling mood to be stable. Having an uninterrupted 9 hours of sleep is something that is so important to the health of teenagers. A teenager who consistently has difficulty sleeping should seek professional support.
This is part one of a two-part series about aggression and teenage boys. Stay tuned for part two coming soon.
THANK YOU to everyone who has been passing these blog posts on, and for all your kind emails about their impact on your family. If you have a topic you would like me to blog about email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond to it as soon as I can.
If you would like to book me to speak at your school or community event email email@example.com
MOST IMPORTANTLY if your teenager needs support from a psychologist, counsellor or mentor Youth Excel would love to help. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Teenage Girls Don’t Tell their Parents is available at www.michellemitchell.org for $24.95 plus postage.
– See more at: http://michellemitchell.org/my-sons-anger-frightens-me-part-1/#sthash.MaIGRasm.dpuf