DIY Bomb Squad: Defusing Your Child’s Emotional Outbursts
Your Quiet Evening Just Became The “Last Stand at the Alamo”
When Kids Get Opinions
It’s a big year for us. Kids are getting older, becoming young adults. This is a double edged sword. They are more self sufficient and more capable, making them more helpful in running the household. They are more confident in their opinions and willing to stand up for what they believe in. These are great attributes for young adults to have. However, the day to day experience of this “awakening” is like sticking your hand into a spinning coffee grinder.The day to day experience of your kids becoming young adults is like sticking your hand into a spinning coffee grinder. Click To Tweet
Handing a Baby a Battle-Ax
This pre-adult phase is amazing to behold. Kids sound more like adults, act more adult-like and are looking more adult-like. Kids have the will to stand up for what they believe in, and the confidence to say what they feel. But even with all these adult-like attributes, kids are lacking the nuance to understand themselves well enough to see what’s driving their upsets.
“Alex, I’ll Take Mood Swings for $200”
Fluctuating kid emotions is familiar territory to most parents. Abrupt declarations of what they “will do” and what they “won’t do” and why we “just don’t understand” are pretty common. Their outbursts can be overwhelming, especially because I pride myself on my relationship building skills.
Listening Behind What’s Said
It’s really easy to get caught up in the upset of the moment, to get “hooked” by what you upset child just said. The key is to listen for what’s BEHIND what they are saying. What do I mean? Try to answer this question: “What’s the upset BEHIND what they are saying?”
Your child’s current complaint won’t go through a “mature brain filter” to distinguish what the real “problem,” “concern” or complaint” is. The”mature brain filter” hasn’t developed yet, so it’s just an airhorn of emotion, no filter needed. Their upset is a symptom of an underlying issue that hasn’t been distinguished yet.
- A blow-up with your child about doing their chores (that many days they do without complaint) may be about a falling out with a close friend.
- Slamming doors may be more about the embarrassment of receiving a poor grade on a test than it is about “Turning down your music, please.”
- Stubbornly refusing to play a family Board Game may be a reflection of feeling rejected by a romantic interest than it is about family togetherness.
Getting Curious Is The Name of The Game
Here’s What You Can Do
Getting curious is the best way to find out what’s going on behind the upset. My experience with kids (and adults alike!) is that the real issue lies underneath the outburst. You may ask questions that fall flat. That’s OK, we all do that. But don’t let that deter your inquiry. Keep going, and you may find at the root is a young person who just needs to be heard.