You know it’s coming soon right?
The next time your son is grumpy, on edge and close to exploding may be just around the corner.
His body and mind are swirling with confusing emotions and powerful hormones. He truly does not know how to manage his anger yet.
He is still developing the skills and tools of emotional intelligence.
And . . . he needs your help.
Here are some quick steps that you can use to defuse his anger.
Let’s take a look at the first one.
1. Respond by listening
This first step may be the most difficult.
What is your first reaction when your son starts to get agitated and he is cranking up the volume with a rude tone of voice?
I don’t know about you, but in those situations I tend to get equally riled up.
However, what you want to avoid is adding fuel to the fire and instead put it out with some cool water.
Listening is the key. Listening is the cool water. 🙂
It is likely that your son is angry for one of the following reasons . . .
- He feels something is unfair
- He feels misunderstood
- He does not feel like you are listening
- He needs to eat some pizza because he is super hungry
Try using one of these phrases:
- I can tell that you are really angry. Tell me exactly what is bothering you.
- Help me understand what is going on. I am going to listen to you.
- This seems really important to you, let’s slow down and talk about it.
Step #1 is to respond by listening.
You are doing fantastic if you can slow down and really listen. But, don’t miss step #2.
Check out my FREE report: “Where did my sweet boy go? The #1 thing you need to know about his prickly attitude”
2. Reflect with empathy
Your son absolutely wants to be heard. He feels that his viewpoint and his opinions are extremely important. But, he wants you to do more than just listen.
He wants to know that you get it.
He needs you to respond with true empathy.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empathy can suck the air out of the room (in a good way!) and extinguish the flames of your son’s anger.
However, it’s not easy feel and express empathy. Especially when emotions are hot and everyone in the room is tense.
You need to find a way to be curious.
Don’t assume that you know what your son is feeling or thinking.
Listen long enough to really understand his pain. Then you can reflect with empathy.
You could use one of the following phrases:
- After listening to you, I can really understand why you feel this is so unfair.
- Thank you for telling me how you feel. I had no idea you were so embarrassed, hurt, etc.
- Now that you explained it to me, I can see your perspective and I get why you are angry.
If you do it right, I guarantee that responding with empathy will make all the difference in the world.
And now for the last step.
3. Reconnect with him
I will be honest with you. This process rarely ever goes perfectly smoothly.
I am a trained therapist and I fumble with my kids all the time!
I am amazing with my counseling clients, but in that situation I am not an authority figure. I have little reason to get angry or triggered. My job is to listen, express empathy and support.
Back to you and your son.
There is a good chance that you will need to do some reconnecting during or after the conflict.
Every argument or disagreement carries the possibility for relationship damage. We all say and do things that are hurtful. Even parents like you and I who are awesome 90% of the time!
The last step in defusing your son’s anger is to reconnect with him.
He needs to know that you will always try to listen, seek to understand him and work to stay in close connection.
You could use one of the following phrases:
- Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me what you think. Let’s find some solutions together.
- I am sorry for how I responded to you. I know it was not helpful and I want us to be on the same team.
- I value your opinion and your feelings matter to me.
These are the 3 quick steps for defusing your teenage son’s anger.
Listening starts the process. Empathy makes the path smoother. And reconnecting gets you where you want to be.
I can’t end this blog post without mentioning one more thing.
I know you are going to want to express your thoughts and feelings as well. You will need to set appropriate limits at times. You may also need to say things that will make him angrier.
Teenage boys are sensitive creatures.
They are fragile at times and need to be handled with care. However, you have to do the hard work of parenting.
Pay attention to how you transition from listening, empathizing and reconnecting to something closer to correcting or challenging.
Acknowledge the reality of the situation.
- I know this might upset you, but I have to say no to your request this time.
- I have listened to you and now I need you to hear what I have to say.
- I am glad that we understand each other. However, this does not change what needs to happen.
Do you know what will happen if you handle your son’s anger like a pro?
He will get upset and stomp around a bit, but you will avoid the big explosions.
There is a much greater chance that walls will not get punched and doors will not be slammed. There will be tension, but it will be eased by your marvelous parenting skills.
The good news is that you can do this.
It takes practice, but it’s totally possible.
You may run into some speed bumps along the way. You may need some additional support.
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