A strategy to stop a teen meltdown in its tracks

by

Teen meltdown - a strategy to stop a tantrum in its tracks

My son is the master of the teen meltdown. To be honest, he was also a master of the toddler meltdown, the preschooler meltdown and the beware-of-the-10-year-old-boy meltdown. You could say he’s been building up to teen meltdown form for years and he’s #nailedit.

Born to melt

I’ll be fair though – he’s got a lot working against him in the cool, calm and collected recipe. He’s a redhead for starters. We are all a bit nuts. He’s also learned how to really lose his cool from his mother, who is expert-level at it herself. Then he adds his own secret-sauce to bring the teen meltdown to stratospheric levels. It’s horrifying.

He’s a redhead for starters. We are all a bit nuts.

Lately, though, he’s become much, much better at keeping his cool. I’m not saying that he’s lost his teen meltdown trophy or anything of the sort. He still gives loads when he wants to. But, to his credit, he’s managing his temper so much better and I’m truly proud of him.


Read this one too: A quick guide to managing tantrums in older kids


 

Many possible reasons

It’s possible he’s simply ‘grown out of it’, but this is highly unlikely. He’s not yet 15 and truly in the midst of prime teen meltdown territory. It’s also possible that a recent increase in screen-time has improved his nature. Very possible. We could also be smack bang in the eye of the storm and the biggest and ugliest meltdowns are yet to come. Oh joy. Please no.

However, it can’t be denied that his behaviour has improved immeasurably over the past six months. When I complimented him on his level-headedness recently, he told me that there was something I said to him months ago that really struck a chord with him.

A strategy to stop a teen meltdown in its tracks

One breakthrough reason

“Oh, really,” I said, thrilled that anything I ever said at all had been heard, let alone taken on board. What was it? What had made such a massive difference to his behaviour?

“You said to me, ‘You’re better than this behaviour,'” he told me. “And I had to agree.”

Turns out, whenever he feels the intense anger and frustration building that tips him over the edge, he remembers those words. Whenever he wants to tip a chair, storm out of the house, slam his fist down or lash out at the world, he remembers:

I am better than this behaviour.

And he tries to do better. He takes a big breath, thinks through how he’s about to react, and chooses a different path. It doesn’t work every time, but it works a lot of the time. Enough of the time that we’ve all noticed a huge change in his attitude. He’s learning to bring his temper under control by using this simple reminder that a teen tantrum does not suit his character.

Whenever he wants to tip a chair, storm out of the house, slam his fist down or lash out at the world, he remembers.

Reinforcing character

I wish I could really take credit for this amazing line that has changed my son’s attitude towards frustration and anger. Alas, it was just one of the things that popped out of my mouth along with all the other things I’ve said to try to console a kid who has lost it. I’ve said many, many things, but this is the thing that has stuck and worked. I think it’s because:

1. It’s a mantra that has become a balm to his teen meltdown feelings.

2. It disassociates him from his behaviour – the behaviour is one thing, his character another.

3. It says that he is already enough, it’s not something he has to work on. He just has to find his way back to who he really is.

4. It’s not a punishment, or a consequence for behaviour, it’s just a reminder.

5. This wasn’t forced, he found it on his own.

So, there you go. A simple strategy that you might like to try on your own Master of the Teen Meltdown child. Worth a mention, don’t you think?

Both images by Shane Rounce


Stop a teen meltdown with this strategy

Written by Bron Maxabella

Bron is the founder of Mumlyfe and is so happy to welcome you here. Bron has been writing in the Australian parenting space as Maxabella for more than 10 years and is mum to three mostly happy kids and wife to one mostly happy husband. Mostly happy is a win, right?

We’re very social

More for you

Practising gratitude can help older kids find more joy in life

Practising gratitude can help older kids find more joy in life

Years ago, when the children were small and there were only two of them, we would talk about our best and worst parts of the day at dinnertime. Gathered around our timber dining table, a candle burning, night falling, we started a tradition that has since become a...

Please don’t let me fall at the last hurdle

Please don’t let me fall at the last hurdle

So here we are. My son turns 18 very soon. EIGHTEEN! It feels bitter sweet, but mostly bitter. I see him there, this child about to be thrust into adulthood. He is six foot six, broad and big boned - incontestably a total unit. Larger than life and full of unstoppable...

My 5 non-negotiable rules for teen romance

My 5 non-negotiable rules for teen romance

OMG, teen romance! It deserves an exclamation point. When my kids started having (gosh) intimate relationships it was equal parts life-affirming and terrifying. Probably more on the terrifying side of things, now that I think about it. My four offspring are all...

Affiliate links

From time to time Mumlyfe uses affiliate links.  It means that Mumlyfe may receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using the link.  You can find out more about how it works here.

You may also like

Related

How to get early entry into university in Australia

How to get early entry into university in Australia

I wrote an article about different ways to get into uni without an ATAR and I've been asked by so many people how to get early entry into university in Australia other than NSW. I covered NSW in the original article because that's where we live and my son had already...

Tibetan sha balep are delicious for lunch

Tibetan sha balep are delicious for lunch

I made the moreish honey and granola bars from Taste Tibet this week and it reminded me that I have another recipe from the book to share with you. Sha balep are little Tibetan pastries that I think of as sharing the same eating space with foods like Mexican empanadas...

Practising gratitude can help older kids find more joy in life

Practising gratitude can help older kids find more joy in life

Years ago, when the children were small and there were only two of them, we would talk about our best and worst parts of the day at dinnertime. Gathered around our timber dining table, a candle burning, night falling, we started a tradition that has since become a...

2 Comments

  1. Erin

    Oh wow, so impressed firstly that he listened to your wise advice, secondly that he is mastering his temper. Not easy, proud of him, well done

    Reply
  2. Eliza

    I have been using this one myself. Ah hem.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This