Handling Teenage Meltdowns

Your child may see you as less understanding than his birth parents might be. Here's how to cope with teenage temper tantrums.

A girl having a teenage temper tantrum.

All my children have stomped around the house on occasion. But one of our kids was swept along by dark inner winds and ready emotion. She challenged and tested us on every level. Fortunately, my husband and I came to understand that our response could either contribute to her anger or help her grow beyond it. We sought counseling, and discovered how to examine our parenting styles and make changes. Here’s what we learned.

  • You cannot manage your child’s anger or live so perfectly as to avoid arousing it. But you can learn to respond to your teen’s anger in a constructive manner. Be open to discussion, but be firm when setting limits. Don’t let a child’s anger influence your good judgment.
  • Adopted adolescents may have particular difficulty with anger at their parents. When confronted with rules and regulations they don’t like or agree with, they can see you as deliberately frustrating. They might imagine their adoptive parents to be less understanding than a birth parent might be. “You’re not my real parents,” they may shout. This is powerful ammunition when hurled across the room in an argument, and you must be prepared to parry the thrust.
  • Adopted or not, many teens have a public and a private self that are vastly different. They’re angry when they are at home, perfectly pleasant when they are not. Sometimes this is because they need to feel in control at home since they feel inadequate outside it.
  • It’s very important that you pay attention to your own personal needs. Sometimes our kids take up so much of our energy, we fail to pick up on signs of our own emotional exhaustion. Do not allow your teenager to dictate a negative home. If you are on the brink of burnout, it’s time to ask for and accept help. You can’t parent a teenager, especially one fueled by anger, if you are running on empty.

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