What makes teenagers so angry and aggressive?

Sep 14, 2014, 08:10 IST | Nikshubha Garg

While teenagers today are high on Intelligence Quotient, they are low on Emotional Quotient, leading to anger and aggression. Nikshubha Garg speaks to psychologists to understand why rage is becoming a huge problem among youngsters in India today and what techniques can be applied to help them

On June 6, 2014, 18-year-old Aniket Naik stabbed a 22-year-old man at Currey Road in Mumbai, over a petty dispute. In another incident, a 19-year-old man was arrested for stabbing a teenager to death after his motorcycle grazed the victim triggering an argument on August 27 in New Delhi. Pick up the newspaper and you’re bound to find many reports of rage among younsters today.


In a study conducted by Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology and Dr P Marimuthu, Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics, NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences), reports of which were released in May this year, 80 per cent of the Indian youth is in a perpetual state of anger.

Why the anger?
The Internet has opened up a whole new world for Gen Y. There is increased awareness and immense exposure because everything that the child needs to know about is a click away. Clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany, says, “With the increased exposure, the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) of children and teens is on the rise but EQ (Emotional Quotient) is on the decline as their emotional needs are not being addressed by their near and dear ones.”

In most cases, teens suffer from anger issues when either one parent or both parents have had a history of anger. Factors such as nagging, abusing and being compared to other kids in the family also have a huge impact on a child’s mental state.

Seema Hingorrany, discusses the case of a 14-year-old girl who had outbursts of anger, so much so that she threw anything that came in her hand and banged her head against the wall because she didn’t know how to express her feelings otherwise. Counselling sessions revealed that she felt emotionally vulnerable but couldn’t convey her emotions because none of her family members asked her why she was feeling that way. Instead, they expressed anger at her behaviour. “Indian parents don’t believe in having a conversation with each other or their children. They usually snap at their kids. Children tend to emulate their parents and do not find an outlet to express themselves. This leads to pent up anger and hatred,” says Salma Prabhu, clinical psychologist and director of ACE (Academy for Counseling and Education).

Techniques of intervention
A 12-year-old boy would get angry at his parents when they would ask him to take a bath, attend tuitions or meet other family members. He would hurl abuses at them and then go to his room and play video games. More so, he would hit his mother with a stick if she would stop him. The child was made to undergo counselling sessions, after which, it was revealed that the video games are making him violent.

“Apart from counselling, we use techniques such as role-play and flashing- the-problem card,” elaborates Hingorrany. “Role-play helps build the withered bond between the parent and the child. In flash-the- problem card, we make the child pick up cards that explain their emotions such as ‘I am lonely’, ‘I feel sad’, ‘I feel neglected’ and so on, so that the parents get to the root of the problem when the kid isn’t talking to them,” she adds.

“Another technique that works in addition to drinking cold water, taking a walk and counting backwards is affirmation. In this process, the patient is made to repeat the statement — ‘I am calm, peaceful, loving and intelligent’ several times during the day so that it gets instilled in the person and he/she feels better about oneself and people around him/her,” advises Prabhu.

Keep your anger in check
1. Confide in a family member or a friend
2. Maintain a good diet. Nutrient deficiencies lead to anger issues and irritability among youngsters
3. Don’t involve yourself in too many activities. Declutter your mind
4. Always remember that no one is perfect and there is always room for error
5. Check for hormonal imbalances. With stressful lifestyles, there is a growing problem of Vitamin B3, B12 deficiencies, thyroid, anaemia and PCOD in women

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