Why Do Adults Think Teens are Always Upset?

By: Vivian Shillingsburg

Adults always seem to think that teens are resentful, and that we complain too much, and that we are always angry. There has to be a reason for this belief, but what is it? 

On Empowering Parents, one of the most frequently asked questions is “Why is my child so angry?” It’s not that we are angry all of the time. When teens get defensive, it is usually because they know that they were wrong or that they could have done better. Teens generally struggle with holding themselves accountable, so instead, they get defensive and come off as angry. Parents can also trigger a teen to become “angry”. When a teen feels like their parent is attacking them, they feel that they have to fight back. Teens think that if they fight back their parents will leave them alone, and they can launch their independence. Teens feel that they have to prove themselves to their parents to create a line of trust. It’s a teens way of saying they feel misunderstood and not heard. Another trigger for outbursts is a feeling that you might doubt them. According to The Huffington Post, teens tend to get mad when parents try to solve problems for them. For example, when a teen is struggling in school and the parent tries to help by emailing their teacher and asking to help their child with homework and studying, this comes off as the parent having little faith in their kid, which makes them feel bad, causing them to lash out. When parents do things like this, they feel like their parents are hovering and aren’t allowing them to figure it out on their own. 

Teens often feel like they don’t have any space. They feel as though they are constantly being monitored, which can be frustrating. When parents ask about their kid’s day with specific questions, they feel like they are being interrogated and that their parents  don’t trust the decisions they are making. I get that parents are interested in their children’s lives, but cut back on the questions. If a child wants to tell their parents something that is going on, they will tell them, and they will probably give them more information than they would get by asking. When kids do talk about something, it’s important for parents to just nod along when you don’t agree or have a problem with something. Unless the child is at harm or did something wrong, it’s better to just leave it be because the kid will just get angry which won’t benefit either party. If a parent really wants to get something out of their teen, the best thing to do is just wait and listen. If a parent shows any sign of disapproval, chances are they won’t tell the whole story next time. Although it seems like teens are just upset, that’s not the case. There is always a story behind the emotion. 

Teens are still learning how to express their emotions, and if parents think it’s frustrating, think about it from the teen’s side. Their intention is not to hurt anyone’s feelings or to make them feel bad, so, when they do, this upsets them, which just contributes to the problem. My best advice for parents, teens, and anyone else dealing with this is to just be patient. It’s the only way that everyone can tolerate each other. 


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