In Part 1 of this two-part series I interviewed Dr John Mitchell, a well-respected doctor and my father-in-law. We covered the impact of health, hormones, energy drinks and sleep. In this blog post I want to outline some things you can do if your son is struggling to control his temper. I have included a photo of my whiteboard at work where I have been talking to a 14 year old boy and his sister about managing their anger.
I hope you find this helpful:
Parent Question: Michelle help! What do I do when he goes into a rage?
My Answer: I don’t think there is a “one size fits all” answer. The most important point for parents to remember is that you can’t beat a bully by being a bully. You need to outsmart a bully. Boy’s bully parents, especially their mothers. If you fight a boy head on your will likely loose. He won’t want to back down. The strategy that works for most families is “time out”. “Time out” is when you choose to remove yourself from a stressful situation for a period of time, with the intention of coming back when your emotions have settled. It is important to realise that this strategy is not about avoiding or running away from a situation. It is a great opportunity for teenagers to ‘calm themselves down’, without relying on someone else to do it for them. Try saying, “I love you too much to fight with you.”
Parent Question: How can I help him relieve stress and tension?
My Answer: He probably won’t want to talk it out (Mums, this is directed to you!) Most boys have a collection of things they do when they are feeling bad. These things may include watching television, playing sport, playing computer games or listening to music. These things all help distract them until their emotions have re-balanced. The only time these things don’t work is when they are not positive or they stir up more aggression, like playing violent computer games. A good mentor will help him find positive ways to express emotion.
Parent Question: How do I relate to him?
My Answer: Parents and teenagers live in different worlds and their challenge is finding common ground. Common ground is a place where the arguing stops, even if only for a moment. Finding common ground can be as simple as a well-timed look, an in-house joke, a quick hug, a catch up about sport or a trip to the shops via a milkshake bar. Finding common ground confirms, “I can still find something I like about you even when you are totally annoying me!”
Parent Question: How can avoid a blow up?
My Answer: Emotion demands a physical response. They need to “do” something with their changing hormones and stress. I am a big fan of sport for boys. When you exercise it releases ‘happy hormones’ in your body and goodness knows they need a few of them. Exercise helps you relieve stress, clear your mind. Going for a walk, a skate or a bike ride is all good exercise so place just as much value on this as their school work.
THANK YOU to everyone who has been passing these blog posts on, and for all your kind emails about their impact on your family. If you have a topic you would like me to blog about email me at email@example.com and I will respond to it as soon as I can. If you would like to book me to speak at your school or community event email firstname.lastname@example.org MOST IMPORTANTLY if your teenager needs support from a psychologist, counsellor or mentor Youth Excel would love to help. You can contact me at email@example.com. What Teenage Girls Don’t Tell their Parents is available at www.michellemitchell.org for $24.95 plus postage.