Dealing with a Teenage Meltdown

A mom's wise counsel for a son who lashes out in anger

Posted in , Nov 18, 2016

What to say to an angry teenager.

My almost-a-teen had a snarly afternoon. Afterwards, when peace showed signs of resuming, I commented, “You said some pretty unkind things earlier.”

“I was angry,” he replied, with a curt nod.

“Angry enough to say things that hurt others,” I countered.

“I can’t help what I say when I’m mad!” he protested.

I let that statement hang in the air for a few moments so he could hear it before responding, quietly, “I’m not sure that’s true.”

“Well, it’s not my fault!” he blustered.

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“Hmmm,” I said, and waited. Eventually I said, “I’d bet that even when you are very angry, there is still a part of you that is aware of what you are doing.”

He nodded warily. “I’m glad you know that,” I continued, ”For the part of your brain that sees it is the part that can prevent you from saying the nasty stuff. If you want to control it, that is.”

“Sometimes I don’t want to!” he scowled, “Sometimes I’m hurt and just want to hurt others!”

Yup. We’ve all been there. And still…

“Buddy,” I said, gently, “If you can observe yourself wanting to hurt others, you’re not completely out of control. You can rein it in. I know that about you, because I know it about myself. Not that I always do stop it, but if I’m honest with myself, I know I can.”

He nodded, reluctantly. There was a long, long silence. And then, “I’m sorry, Mama,” my son said.

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