Anger is actually a secondary emotion. That is, it’s a combination of other emotions mixed together. Here is what’s probably going on inside of your daughter:
Behind anger there is always some kind of hurt — physical pain, disappointment or sadness. Often, this hurt is something in the present, such as not getting asked out for homecoming, doing badly on a test or missing her favorite TV show. There are times, however, when the hurt is an old wound that has never quite healed. Rejection by a friend. Harsh words spoken by a parent. A loss in her life. Wherever there is anger, hurt exists. Look for it.
Meanwhile, the catalyst for anger is anxiety. Hidden inside of her anger is some form of fear, worry, embarrassment or apprehension. The anxiety may be harder to uncover than the hurt. One way to do this is to hunt for the “what ifs” in her thinking. “What if nobody likes me?” or “What if I can’t handle the work load?” Where there is anger, there is anxiety, and it’s usually closely related to how she feels about herself or how others perceive her.
Whenever you mix baking soda with vinegar, you get the fizzies. Whenever you mix hurt with anxiety, you get anger. Try to help her identify both parts of this formula separately. See if she’ll talk out the hurt or disappointment. When it comes to the anxiety, help her challenge the “what ifs” of her thinking. If this challenge proves too formidable, it may help to enlist the wisdom of a youth pastor or counselor. The more she can manage these two emotions independently, the less she’ll experience the “fizzies” of anger. As a parent, if you find yourself angry at your teen, try this formula yourself. To teach is to learn twice!