Teenage tantrums can be frightening as well as shocking when you encounter it for the first time in your teenage child. While as parents, your toddler throwing tantrums had never been new to you and you found your techniques to handle it. But, when your child grows taller than you, show anger, emotional outbursts, and becomes rebellious, it’s time for you to give a serious thought on how to manage the situation.
How and why is it different now?
Teens often get temper bouts, resorting to yelling, shouting, foot slamming, door slamming, and, showing disrespect to parents. The reason is obvious most of the time; your teenage child may not agree with you in many situations. Parent-child conflict is not new, but problems between your teenager and you may vary greatly.
The other day, my 15-year-old son and his friends planned for a movie over the weekend. My son usually takes permission from me, as going out with friends often, is not a common event to be allowed frequently. But that day he confirmed his availability to his friends without discussing it with me.
Later, when he told me about his plans, that too knowing the fact that he had his Unit Tests commencing from Monday, it made me angry. Not only because his exams were approaching, but also because he did not feel the need to seek my permission before making such plans.
Consequently, I sternly denied him to go out with his friends. This led to plenty of arguments between us on individual space and control. Not trying to understand my point, he went on arguing and finally got furious and locked himself in his room, banging the door loudly.
My sudden reaction, and difference of our opinions triggered in my son to throw tantrums. Ultimately, it’s me who ended up feeling guilty of not allowing him to have fun with his friends, and he ended up not speaking to me for days.
In such situations, it becomes difficult to handle and manage your kid’s anger.
Could there be a better approach to handle this situation?
Arguing with him, in a fit of anger, raged him even more to throw tantrums. I could have kept my cool and could have discussed with him calmly to make him understand my point. I could have also suggested him to postpone his plans till his exams are over.
If you are a teenager’s parent, you might have come across such a situation at one point in time.
Before finding the ways to manage your kid’s anger, let us understand why has your teenager become so unpredictable suddenly and shows bouts of anger.
Let's Understand the Reasons for teenage tantrums
1. Your teen is learning to establish his individuality
Your teenage child is in the process of transiting from adolescence to adulthood. Adolescence is a phase of intense growth, not only physically but emotionally and intellectually as well.
- Due to the gushing hormones, your teen is likely to experience, sadness, fear, embarrassment, frustration, vulnerability, erratic behavior, and much more.
- Your teenager themselves might be finding it difficult to understand the reasons behind such dramatic changes they are undergoing. This in turn can cause your child to become even more anxious.
- It is a stage where your teenager is starting to develop into a distinct individual, separate from you, and striving for independence to take his or her own decisions. Also, your child is striving to balance their need for privacy with your need to show you care and stay connected.
So, your child might sometimes give you a rude or disrespectful response. Your child may think you’re taking too much interest in what they’re doing or invading their space.
Understandably, it’s a time of confusion and upheaval for many of you.
2. Struggle for control
When your children are young, you control most of the aspects related to them. Be it anything, from deciding their clothes, friends, hobbies and almost everything you decide, you think is good for them.
But as your children grow older, they realize, they can never have control over their life, as long as you keep making decisions for them.
Consequently, they start to fight for control. It will feel like your teen is always at odds with you and you both never reach an agreement without arguing over it.
3. This change is difficult for parents too.
Witnessing sudden changing behavior in your beloved child may not be pleasant for you too. You may feel rejected, hurt, and anxious about what your child thinks is good for them, which may not be the right decision.
As your child matures, he starts to think more abstractly and rationally. You might have noticed, the child who had been willing to conform, has suddenly become assertive and rebellious against parental control. The struggle for control is stressful for all, as both you and your child deeply care for one another.
Your teen’s struggle for independence and control becomes a major problem and plays a vital role in fueling for teenage tantrums.
4. Some other reasons
Besides these, there could be other underlying reasons for teenage tantrums, like:
- Being misunderstood and not heard by parents
- Stressful home environment
- Low self-esteem
- Victim of bullying
- Unhealthy peer pressure
- Mental health issue
- Traumatizing life experience
How to help your teenager keep their anger under control.
1. Model appropriate anger management
Like I said, in the beginning how I couldn’t I could not manage my anger towards my son when he finalized his weekend plans without taking permission from me. Consequently, he also did not stay back throwing his tantrums.
Children are hugely influenced by the behavior of their parents and the home environment in which they live. They learn what they see happening in their surroundings. The parents are the first teachers for their children.
When your views and opinions are conflicting, before giving your sudden reaction, try to be in their shoes and explain to your child everything, giving logical reasons to it. Moreover, raising your voice, will not help them relate or understand your point.
When you are angry, be sure to express it appropriately and influence by modeling appropriate behavior during conflict.
2. Help your teen to express anger appropriately
Managing teenage tantrums can be difficult at times. Show your teenager how to manage angry feelings. Tell them, it is normal to be angry, but it shouldn’t be to an extent that it harms them or to anybody else.
- Instead of judging or giving advice, to your teenager listen to him patiently.
- Most often, teens get angry and irritated when they are not heard by their parents.
- You need to have a polite conversation, to understand their situation as well as make them understand your point.
They might be reluctant to share everything initially with what they experience. But if you listen and talk to them casually when they are ready to talk, it will become easy for you to communicate with them and get some insight on how to help them manage their anger issues.
3. Ignore temper tantrum
When your child is angry, the first course you should take it to ignore their outburst. If you pay attention to the wrong things your teenager does, they will do it more. When you do not pay any heed to their tantrums, they are likely to cool down faster and get back to their normal behavior.
But don’t anticipate that their anger has gone away as it did with your toddler. Your teen is likely to hang on to it and you will have to be patient to deal with it.
When your kid is ready, they will come out of their room, and perhaps may even initiate the conversation too. Respond, but do not initiate any talks on the tantrum.
Sometimes, ignoring their behavior might help your teenager to initiate a conversation about what made them angry.
4. Channel Anger into Activity
Instead of allowing your kid to stay frustrated and keep brooding in their room, encourage them to get involved in some physical activity.
- It could be cycling, swimming, or exercising. This will help them channelize their extreme energies in a positive direction.
- Listening to music, painting, dancing, or anything relaxing would also help them to calm down after a while.
5. Set some clear ground rules
Any family or relationship to function aptly needs some ground rules. Be it home management, helping in household chores, having dinner together, going out with friends, socializing online, maintaining a monthly budget, etc.
Work out what ground rules you want to set for your teenager. Discuss it with them the benefits of sticking to the rules and the consequences if they do not.
This will help you develop a rapport with your teen, by having clear communication about what you expect from him.
6. Encourage the correct attitude and reward for control
Having the right attitude is pivotal to success in life. Help your child to develop a positive outlook towards life. When they are in a good mood, talk to them, that being angry or cribbing about their problems will not help them in any way.
- With the right attitude, they will be encouraged to look for solutions to their problems rather than complaining or throwing tantrums for every other aspect that does not go as per the expectations in their life.
- Also, don’t forget to appreciate when your teen exhibits control over their anger. Reward them with things he likes, for behaving well.
7. Understand, that your teen is in stress too
Due to the hormones, your teen child is prone to stress and experience mood swings. Besides, the pressure of study, peer pressure, friendship, relationships might be overwhelming to them. Teenagers can be delighted at one moment and irritable the next moment.
- The desire to be distinguished as intelligent, cool, and attractive, being part of the group and endless things like that can add to your teen’s stress.
- Stress can affect your teen’s moods, just as it impacts yours. Your child is likely to become more irritable and prone to anger if he is stressed.
Try to understand things from your teen’s perspective. Empathize, for the struggles and difficulties they are going through. Discuss with them the area of conflict, and ask them if there is any way you can help.
8. Spend some time with your teenager
As much as spending time with kids is important when they are toddlers, it is equally important to spend some quality time with your teen.
Talk to them and ask them about their day. Appreciate the happy family time together. Sharing and listening during dinner time would also be an excellent idea.
9. Express your love and care for them
As parents, do not forget that toddler or teenager, your child needs your love and care at every stage of their childhood.
Express your love for them with little gestures, like preparing their favorite dish, or sharing what it felt like, the day they were born, sharing anecdotes about your life, and so on.
Although teenage can be a period of conflict between parent and child, it is also a time to help your kids grow into distinct individuals.
Your love and compassion will make them turn into a refined and balanced individual.
With little guidance and patience, you can help your teen in controlling their tantrums and channelize their energies in a positive direction for a better life.
I believe, suggestions on how to deal with teenage tantrums, helped you in managing your teens anger. Please, share your comments below.
Krishna is a Management graduate in Human Resource. She is an avid reader, knowledge seeker, and an adoring mother of two lovely kids.