Teach teens to tame temper tantrums

Teaching teens to tame temper tantrums is neatly alliterative, but in real life it's easier said than done. As parents, we often (wrongly) think it's our job to keep our kids under control. We can only model good choices, establish boundaries and enforce consequences. The teen must learn to manage his emotions and behavior. Here's how parents can help teens deal with anger.

* Acknowledge anger. You don't have to like your teen's anger or agree with the reason for it, but you shouldn't stifle it.

* Explore healthy anger options. Anger can be frightening, but it's a natural emotion that needs expression. Repressed rage is hurtful emotionally and physically. We may not choose to feel anger, but we do choose to our response to it. When your teen explores and expresses anger safely, she's less likely to engage in unhealthy expressions of anger.

* Create "emergency preparedness plans." Teach teens to recognize triggers for hurtful anger. Help them identify anger management strategies. Together, choose a word that your teen can use to communicate impending anger storms.

* Teach the HALTS acronym. When we're hungry (H), angry (A), lonely (L), tired (T) or sick (S), we need to halt and take care of those needs. Snacks, naps, break time, a fun activity--these can ward off temper tantrums.

* Diffuse explosive anger. Show kids how to redirect away from anger-producing situations. Within reason, give them permission to go to their rooms if they need to.

* Lead by example. Model healthy anger management strategies for your teens. Let them see you work through frustrating situations positively. If you blow it, apologize and explain where you went wrong.

* Get active (especially outside). Teach teens to channel anger into productive avenues like work, exercise or sports. Physical activity dejuices explosive anger. When I am angry, I clean. It burns off negative energy that anger adrenaline produces. Fresh air, as long as it's not too hot, is great for neutralizing anger, too.

* Journal. Writing out feelings in a safe place helps kids explore emotions and problem-solve.

* Avoid digital gadgets. Texting, social networking, computer gaming-- digital interaction can distill negative emotion without providing a physical outlet.

* Teach responsibility. Don't make excuses for inappropriate anger behavior. Make your teen own her emotions and actions. Don't cushion logical consequences. If your teen's anger hurts others, help her make amends. If she damages property, she should pay for repairs. Experiencing c onsequences is uncomfortable, but it's the best way to learn to anger management.

* Don't let anger become a weapon. Anger is a powerful emotion especially for young people still learning to navigate feelings. Don't let teens use anger to avoid responsibility or control others. If your teen's anger seems excessive, see a family counselor. Daily Strength.org is a good online support community for many issues, too. Here's their anger management page.

Using these tips, teens can learn to manage their all their anger proactively.