If you thought the terrible twos were it, then your child hasn’t made it to “threenager” status. If you survived that stage, then you should be prepared for the attitudes only teenagers can give their parents. Just as you’ve learned how to navigate and redirect the temper tantrums of your toddler, you can learn the same with your older babies.
Parenthood is a long, wild ride. When you think you’ve finally entered a stage of harmony between you and your children, one of them gets to an age that is somehow difficult for you both to balance. Teenagers are that lost age between being a kid and still not quite being an adult. It’s like the middle child of ages, being invisible by both sides. Let’s see how you can find harmony between your teenage baby and their mental breakdowns.
First thing first, you are the parent. They are the child. You need to help them through this like you would any other situation.
- Doesn’t matter the age, they are still your child
- You are the adult, you make the rules
- Don’t give in to the tantrum
Just because they are probably taller than you now doesn’t mean that they are in charge. They are still your baby. The technique might be different, but you want the same end result.
Would you give in to your 2-year-old’s fit? Nope. Then don’t give in to your teenager’s. You need to set up the boundary between parent and child immediately.
Dealing with a little child throwing a fit or a teenager having a tantrum, there are certain things you need to make absolutely sure you don’t do.
- Don’t answer anger with anger
- Don’t make threats
- Don’t get into an argument
- Don’t talk down to them
Your teen is going to get angry. They have thoughts and feelings they don’t know how to process. But getting angry back at them won’t help. It’ll make them angrier and things will spiral from there.
As much as you want to threaten to take away their phone or their laptop, please keep those threats inside your head. Threatening your teenager makes them angrier and gives them more fuel for the next time.
Your child will want to scream at you, throw insults at you, tell you that you aren’t being fair, and all other kinds of colorful things. You don’t need to get into an argument with them. You are the adult who needs to remain calm and keep your head on straight.
Your teenager is also going to be sensitive. Don’t talk down to them like they are a little child. It will only upset them more — or it will make them shut down completely. They want to be treated more like an adult, even though they are throwing a fit.
As hard as it might be in the heat of the moment, the best thing to do is to keep yourself centered and calm.
- Let your teen know their feelings are normal
- Sometimes it’s better to walk away
- Keep your cool, keep your voice even
- Wait until everyone is calm before talking about consequences
You need to remember that this isn’t about you. When they were 3 it wasn’t about you, it was about all of the new thoughts and feelings and not knowing how to deal with them. It’s the same only on a different level. Everyone goes through the same phases and has the same insecurities. They need to know their thoughts are validated.
This one may be the hardest, but you’ll have to do it. Walk away. Walk in the other room. Find something else to do. Walk away. You know you did it when they were 2. You went in the other room and read a book until they came slowly tottering back in for you to hold them. Wait for the tantrum to pass.
Never lose your cool. Don’t raise your voice, don’t show any emotion other than understanding. Tantrums in teenagers are still the same. They need to let it out and come back to you when they are done.
Don’t bring up the consequences of their actions or any needed punishments until after they have calmed down. Have a talk with them about their actions first and get their understanding before you talk repercussions.
No matter how your teenager expresses themselves, they need to know they have your love. They want to know that after the fires have calmed that you still love them unconditionally. They are torn between being your little kid and wanting to be an independent person.
If you can learn to read when your teenager is getting overwhelmed and a tantrum might be about to burst forth, take them aside quietly and give them a safe space to talk about what might be happening. If you can notice the signs and be proactive, then you might be able to stop teenage tantrums.
If you can’t get a handle on the signs though, then have an action plan for how to deal with tantrums and how to talk to your teen about them afterward. If you keep the line of communication open, maybe next time your teen will come to you when they feel like exploding. If that happens, write down what you did and let the rest of us know!
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