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Why is my preteen so angry?

By April 17, 2008

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In this blog post, Heather asked: Any advice on how to help an angry pre-teen? She is so angry that she refuses to turn her homework in (we know she does it because we check it and her school-issued agenda every night!). But she refuses to turn it in. Please help!

Denise’s thoughts: Have you asked her why she is angry? The first step is always finding out what is going on. If she won't talk to you, who will she talk to? Define the problem and then help her with it.

While preteens have mood swings, I think the answer is much more than something that simple. Kids with mood swings act out of frustration, generally yelling and/or being rude to parents or siblings. Doing homework and not turning it in is a control issue. Your daughter is not only angry, she needs to feel in control. Needing to control is normal teen behavior, creates independence, but why she is angry needs to be addressed so she can turn it around and be successful in what she is controlling. If there isn’t something going on at home, talk to the teacher and find out what may be going on at school.

Asking the community: Has your teen ever acted out this way? What was the problem? How did you handle it? Share your experiences, thoughts and advice in the comments area.

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Comments
April 18, 2008 at 7:39 pm
(1) teach says:

You are sure she is angry? Are other students turning in their homework? Could be a number of things, so make sure she talks with someone. Might be inability to get from home to school with it – whole different organizational problem. Might be peer pressure. Have her talk with someone where they are listening to her.
Plenty of kiddos have this problem and there is not one issue, but many, so you may have to look at underlying causes a little closer.

April 19, 2008 at 1:42 pm
(2) Suzy says:

My 17yo son has had similar experiences, mostly b/c he has a high functioning form of Autism — Asperger’s
Syndrome. It has got in the way of school so much, that he wouldn’t attend the 11th grade last fall, until something was done drastically with his IEP. Finally, we got the school to pay for private tutoring at our home! It is so much better than having my son have meltdowns at school, almost everyday! He is so much happier now, and that makes all of us happier! Also, my son is
still going through that “awkward” stage in adolesence.. He’s never had a gf, has only a couple of friends, but is
happy with that…

April 20, 2008 at 7:24 pm
(3) Sara says:

My daughter did this exact same thing when she was 13. I was also one of her teachers at the time. Now she is 17 and an honor roll student looking at colleges. What we did was stop checking the agenda book on a nightly basis and instead giving her a set consequence if her grades at mid marking period were below a C. She started doing her homework because she felt in control, but we still had the safeguard of consequences if she did not follow through. Also have her help to set the consequences so that she feels some ownership. She seems to want control so give her some guarded control. Also tell her since she is maturing she may be mature enough to take care of her homework. If you are worried ask if her teachers will email you with her progress weekly/monthly etc. Ask them not to tell her though so that she doesn’t feel like you are checking up on her.

April 20, 2008 at 7:35 pm
(4) andrea says:

My son is going through this right now. I know he does his work because I looked it over for him. I just can’t seem to grasp why he doesn’t turn it in. I look at his grade online and they say he is getting mostly F’s, when I ask him about it him and his dad tell me that he turns it in, but I just don’t seem to see it in his grades. Right now me and his dad are going through a divorce so I’m sure it has something to do with it, but I just want to see him do good in school. What can I do???

April 21, 2008 at 5:58 pm
(5) John says:

There are a lot of things that can cause a teenager to have anger. Sometimes they are not apparent to parents. It can be simple things, as mentioned in the above comments or it can be some things such as:

Drugs or alcohol

Frustrating sexual experiences or promiscuity.

Too much time with violent media-such as extreme violence in films.

Abortion (unknown to parents, as in NJ-14 year olds can have abortions without parental knowledge), can have the result of some teengagers reacting in anger.

The type or amount of time that a teenager spends with music, as in extreme music, can have an effect on a teenager’s mood also.

The mind and emotions of a teenager are very delicate, so an anger problem can be the result of many factor, some not so serious, that teenagers grow out of, some which can be serious in nature.

April 22, 2008 at 4:17 am
(6) leticia alvarado says:

My son is 14 years old his in middle school . I always ask do you have homework? he always have the same answer no. Last week he got a ticket for skipping school. He also likes to wear pants that are big for him and not to mention the friends he has not all but some of his friends i dont like iam a single mother and dont know what to do or say. CAN YOU HELP ME

June 6, 2008 at 2:07 pm
(7) staci says:

My son was not turning in school work either and I know that he was doing it. Also because I teach him to turn the other cheek when a kids bothers him he comes in the house and throws things and punches the wall. I don’t know what to do

August 23, 2008 at 10:53 pm
(8) Kim Dunn says:

I have an 11 yr. old child that is a walking time bomb. I never know when he is going to blow up. He is to the point where he is physically violent with me, my husband and my younger son. We simply don’t know what to do. He is on Concerta for ADHD and is geting ready to try Depakote. Has anyone had any postive experiences with Depakote. We have tred so many mood medications but nothing seems to work. HELP !!

September 22, 2008 at 5:47 am
(9) rowan says:

HI there
Im a teenage male of 17 years. So for all you worryed parents, perhaps you should listen to what i have to say.
As a teenager i have alot of things going through my mind, like frinds, girlfriends, school, work, but especialy what others act like and expect me to act like.
This has resulted in me losing interest in school nd often ignoring my family at times.(with my parents divorsed this is easy).
So if your child is strugling, take some of the pressure of, less jobs, less questions, don’t ask them how there day was!! They need there space so they can think.

September 29, 2008 at 5:51 pm
(10) Barry Munden says:

Y’know, it’s been a long time since I was a teen, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why preteens are angry. The academic environment sucks. They are dragged out of bed earlier than most adults care to awaken, thrust into an aging building with little or no climate control (remember that levy?), asked to sit in an uncomfortable chair and do boring and repetitive work by seven or eight different people all day, served a crap lunch, and subjected to the social viciousness that only preteens are capable of and all for…what? What meaningful motivation is offered these kids to do this? Most adults hate office jobs and only tolerate it for a decent salary, and they can at least fantasize about a better job. Preteens are old enough that they want some control over their destiny, but too young to chart it, and too powerless to achieve it. Being thrown a bone once in a while by people they can clearly see dining on steak for the same amount of labor (or so it appears to them) would frustrate anyone.

Honestly, our schools make no sense to me, either. Teachers have no authority to discipline kids in any way other than to suspend them from the very activities that they want to escape from…big motivator. They are forced to remain sedentary for hours on end when childhood obesity is epidemic and at an age when every muscle in their body screams for activity…very healthy. They’re rabid curiosity about the world around them is stifled so that they can be force fed information that holds little personal relevance to them…how encouraging.

Everyone is screaming at them to perform like trained monkeys and psychoanalyzing them or even drugging them when they don’t, while all the while they just want to make friends and flirt and play and find a little freedom for themselves.

So, yeah, they’re angry.

November 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm
(11) danielle says:

Blah blah blah to all the rest of the bleeding hearts who aren’t successful in their own lives or childrens’, who give adivice to others..you are the only one who makes any sense..our society has trained our modern generations to simply pay taxes..the kids are only destined by what they achieved in school blue collars or white by bilology..no discipline and no guidance because both parents had to have a career to support the system of taxes and the kids… vicious cycle due to modernation of families of broken homes..let em fall where they may in society is whta the teahcers ay or put em on meds…what a shame

October 3, 2008 at 2:17 am
(12) mom of 14 yr old boy says:

I like what Sara says. Control. I am going through the same issue. Just a few minutes ago found 14 assignments done! Not turned in! They were neatly tucked in the book and not in the notebook which is graded. Mine is ADD but this is deliberate. I took away his Holloween Party he is attending unless he begins to turn in the work. Not great solution and may not work.

October 10, 2008 at 1:38 pm
(13) mom of 12 year old daughter says:

I’m at a lost. My daughter and had a huge blow out last night. I know I handeled it wrong. If fact while I was yelling I kept telling myself to stop and breath, but I couldn’t. My daughter has ADD and she has just given me her second Math testof the school year. Both of them she had received an F. According to her it wasn’t her fault and she knows what she is doing. Nothing is her fault ever. She is verbally abusive to everyone in the family, and I am literally at a lost. I wish I could say that it is just being a preteen, but I would be denying the fact that she has always carried around anger. She thinks that she is entitled to everything, and takes no responsibiltiy for any of her actions. At times she is so nice and then she turns. There is alot of addictions and some depression in the family and I don’t know where to go from here. Can anyone help me?

June 11, 2011 at 1:09 am
(14) Feel I am to blame says:

Thank you for writing this about your daughter. I am having some of the same issues with my 12 year old daughter. She is very angry and has low self esteem. She seems to dislike me and her sister and only likes her dad. Not sure what to do. I have tried everything and still no solution. I really appreciate it you wrote down your feelings. Glad I am not alone.

December 13, 2008 at 11:46 pm
(15) frustrated says:

I am having the same problems with my 11 year old daughter. She is like a time bomb. everyone pays the price for her mood swings including our younger daughter. Nothing is ever her fault, trying to get her do a chore usually turns violent and she is verbally abusive especially to me. I have had it with her and don’t know what to do. Any suggestions? Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 15, 2011 at 10:59 am
(16) Jessica says:

My daughter is 11 years old as well. I am ALSO concerned- as- I am also a single parent- and we live with her grandparents. And we try so hard- when she has these mood swings- because we never know when or why they happen- and it is like pulling teeth- to try and understand- or give her space- or try and talk to her- to find out what in the world is she SO upset over? I am SO thankful- that I am not alone- but also am curious- as to what other parents’s suggestions might also be. I am bi-polar- and I hate thinking about- taking her already to a doctor. And not yet through puberty- she is fun and in a great mood- and then a moment later- just WHAM – something has really upset her- somehow? Sometimes- she can be REALLY mean to me-or others in our family and it won’t have anything to do with us at all !The throwing things or slamming the door or the screaming., ANY suggestions- would be appreciated- thanks all !!!

November 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm
(17) Rick says:

You may want to have your daughter checked out for bipolar.
Our son had similar behavior and was found to have juvenile bipolar disorder. He is now on meds and doing better. Good Luck.

December 19, 2008 at 10:14 pm
(18) TAMMY says:

Dear Frustrated,
I am not sure if you will really come back to read this but I will try anyways. I have a 9 yr old daughter that sounds like yours. She is on ADHD meds and Clonidine for bed time. I think she is pre- period lol…. I WISH shed just start and get it over with so at-least I know its that. I also am signing her up in therapy. My younger daughter goes to therapy and it helps (i think). So Remember when taking PHYC meds Medication will ONLY work together with therapy!! TRUST I have been doing it for years and without it I would be a walking time bomb. You might also look up Bi-Polar I am bi-polar and 9x/10 its MAJOR MOOD SWINGS! Pray and ask for peace, understanding and the gift of patience. I NEED THAT myself. God Bless

February 24, 2009 at 10:10 am
(19) OhMama says:

Just got a notice from my daughter’s teachers that she is going to flunk 8th grade. In parent teacher conferences they indicate she would be a b / c student if only she turned in her homework. Her test scores are decent.

My intervention is that I take her to school every day, walk her to each of her classrooms, and drop off her homework. I look at the school website to determine what homework there is, pick her up – if she does not have the books/workbooks/assignments, I will park the car and we will walk in and pick them up.

I know she wants control, but until she is responsible she can’t have it.

When I ask her why she is doing this, she informs me that she doesn’t want to talk about it.

Grounding and taking stuff away has no effect. If we take everything away, she just sleeps.

Argh!! If there is a solution, I’ll gladly jump on it!

July 22, 2009 at 9:01 am
(20) Carol says:

Hve you consider there is reason behind this rebellion to do homework like maybe she isb being bullied at school or she is possible showing some early signs of depression.Its hitting girls younger and younger these days. see if she will talk to you about what is going on at school. Girls need to be heard. The class may be more than she can handle is another senerio possibly as well

May 11, 2010 at 2:30 pm
(21) Ellie b says:

Why do u think they are angry they have to go to a crappy stone school everyday have crappy lunches teachers bugging them about makeup and clothes how’s that making a difference then have their parents moan at em for homework and with teen stress I got depressed in teenaged years

November 13, 2010 at 2:06 am
(22) Semone says:

I have an 11 year old son who at times can get very angry and frustrated. He can be loving one minute and then if you ask him to do homework or take out the rubbish he gets really angry and yells. He even tips his room upside down. He is going to counselling and when I speak to his teachers he is fine at school, is an average student and loves sport and has lots of friends. I need an honest opinion does he have ADHD or is he pre teen and does not know what to do with his emotions? Most of the time he is good he just gets angry sometimes once a week but it does vary. Could it be the pressures of school and busy lifestyle? Should I be changing his diet?
Please help!!

November 25, 2010 at 1:38 pm
(23) Stranger says:

My daughter is acting very strange lately. I agree, it is mood swings… but does that mean shes getting her period? Someone reply soon. I can’t bear to see my daughter miserable any longer :’(

November 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm
(24) 4ever&ever says:

Yea, your daughter is probably getting her period stranger… it may be painful for her, but look at the gd side! No more hell 4 u!! ;D hahahaha…. dont worry.. everyone goes through this. it’s very normal. btw : i love how u didnt mention your realname stranger! much safer :) gd luck!! *u deserve it <3 *

December 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm
(25) Annette says:

im glad to see there are some current comments because i have had the same issues. My daughter is 17 and we have been fighting the “she does her work but doesnt hand it in” for the last 6 years. I also found after the Tri was over an accordian file that i had bought her to keep her work organized with, full of completed assignments. Now we (her stepdad and I) decided to let her fall this time and let her have the “control” and she failed 2 classes and 2 Ds and 1 B..art class that she loves. So i use to make her copy her homework then i scan it to my email and send to the teachers so they would have it..i stopped so she could take on the responsiblity..Anyway she is ADD and i just got her on Vyvanse and she is doing somewhat better but still showing an F in english and she swears its handed in. So of course i dont believe her. She started on the year smoking spice and weed and so it was a long Tri but i think she give up on the weed and the friends that introduced her too it. I keep in touch every day with the teachers and Vice Principal…so now what???????? she is very immature for her age i know that. but the constand lying is tearing the house apart..

May 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm
(26) MISS MOM says:

MY DAUGHTER IS ALMOST 12 YEARS OLD. SHE IS THE MEANEST, MOODIST PERSON I KNOW. I ASKED HER FOR SIX MONTHS TO CLEAN HER ROOM AND EVERY TIME SHE DID IT GOT WORSE. SHE WAS BECOMING VERY DEPRESS AND STARTED CUTTING HER ARM. SHE CUT ABOUT 20 TIMES, NO BLOOD ACCEPT FOR TWO OF THEM. I ASKED HER WHY SHE WAS HURTING HERSELF AND SHE SAID EVERY ONE IS GETTING CANCER, GRAND-MA, 7 YEAR OLD MADDY, AND MOM TO TOP IT OFF UNCLE KIRK WAS MY FAVORITE UNCLE AND HE DIED AT 55 YEARS OLD.
WELL I COULD UNDER STAND HER MOODS NOW BUT WHY SO MEAN. MAYBE SHE DOESN’T WANT TO BE CLOSE TO ANYONE BECAUSE EVERYONE DIES. I EXPLAINED THAT NOT EVERYONE WHO HAS CANCER DIES, YOUR GRAND-MA IS NOT GOING TO DIE, MADDY IS GETTING BETTER EVERYDAY. I TOLD HER MY BROTHER DIED FROM A HEART ATTACK, OR BECAUSE OF HIS PAIN PILL, EXPLAINING PAIN PILLS CAN HURT YOU IF YOU TAKE TO MANY AND HE DID ALL THE TIME.
THE NEXT DAY SHE WENT TO SCHOOL AND I CLEANED HER BEDROOM IT TOOK 5 HOURS. I GOT RID OF ALL HER BABY TOYS,CLOTHES THAT DIDN’T FIT HER, BABY HANGERS, SHOES, GARBAGE THERE WAS A LOT OF GARBAGE AND DISHES. WHEN I GOT DONE HER ROOM WAS UNDER CONTROL AGAIN. SHE HAD TOLD ME I YELL AT HER ALL THE TIME, WHICH I DON’T. JUST IF I DON’T SOUND HAPPY SHE THINKS I’M YELLING AT HER. CLEANING YOUR ROOM WAS WHY SHE THOUGHT I YELLING. SO THAT IS WHY I CLEANED IT MYSELF, IT WAS TO OUT OF CONTROL FOR HER TO DO IT. NOW I DON’T SO CALLED YELL ANYMORE ABOUT HER ROOM AND EVERYDAY WHEN SHE LEAVES FOR SCHOOL SHE MAKES HER BED. I GO IN AFTER SHE’S GONE AND PICK UP HER CLOTHES, PAPERS, AND OTHER LITTLE THINGS SHE LEFT OUT. MY DAUGHTER PROMISED ME SHE WOULD NOT CUT HER SELF ANYMORE AFTER SHE SAW ME CRYING AT THE KITCHEN TABLE. I TOLD HER HOW MUCH I LOVED HER AND IF ANYTHING EVER HAPPENED TO HER I WOULD BE HEART BROKEN FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. SHE JUMPED RIGHT IN AND SAID SHE WAS SORRY AND WOULD NOT CUT AGAIN, THEN SHE SAID MOM PLEASE DON’T CRY PLEASE, I PROMISE NOT TO CUT AGAIN.
SO I FIGURED OUT THAT THE ROOM WAS MAKING HER DEPRESSED SO I CLEANED IT. THAT TOOK A LOT OF STRESS OFF OF HER. I’M HELPING HER TO KEEP IT CLEAN AND SHE IS HAPPY ABOUT THAT. I MADE RULES AFTER SHE WAS IN A BETTER MOOD. NO LONG SLEVE SHIRT, NO EATTING IN YOUR ROOM, AND DO YOUR BEST TO KEEP THE BEDROOM CLEAN ASSURING HER I WOULD HELP. SHE IS STILL SAD ABOUT KIRK, AND WORRYS ABOUT CANCER. SO I STOPPED SMOKING AND SHE WAS SO HAPPY BECAUSE I WASN’T GOING TO DIE FROM CANCER LIKE ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO SMOKE. IT HAS BEEN HARD TO QUIT AND I HAVE A SMOKE ONCE IN AWHILE WHEN SHE IS AT SCHOOL BUT I’VE ONLY HAD 5 IN A MONTH AND A HALF.
MY DAUGHTER IS IN BETTER SPIRITS NOW AND ALL I HAD TO DO WAS CLEAN HER ROOM, AND TALK TO HER ABOUT OUR FAMILY PROBLEMS. NOW SHE COMES TO ME AND SMILES AND GIVES ME BIG HUGS. MIND YOU SHE IS STILL MOODY BUT HARDLY EVER AND SHE HAS NOT CUT FOR ALMOST 2 WEEKS. SHE IS PLAYING OUTSIDE AGAIN WHERE BEFORE SHE WAS LOCKING HER SELF IN HER ROOM. A NOTHER RULE WAS LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN UNLESS SHE WAS DRESSING AND HAVE THE CURTIN OPEN SO HER ROOM IS NICE AND BRIGHT. I PROMISED TO BUY HER A NEW BED SPEND IN PURPLE.

October 25, 2012 at 10:28 pm
(27) Mer says:

My daughter now 12 years old is seriously a loner no out burst just seems sad and not wanting to eat or engage with anyone but her music . Doesn’t want to leave her room she is over weight and we worked out a healthy diet plan she seemed so excited but she eats very little which is why I believe she will not lose weight that way and I explained to her why but again she opts for not eating much . FYI she always sits in the dark. Dr.s tell us she is very hormonal and her weight and self esteem plays a big part in her depression she always loved school but not anymore !! She won’t talk to anyone about her feelings she hates to talk on the phone and never texts or emails kids from school . Our heart breaks for her and my heart goes out to all of you who are going through the pain and frustration of seeing are loved ones in their own unhappiness . I will never stop trying ! Even called her school to see if they would help us along with her dr.s they where not very helpfull didn’t even return my call :(

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