Tumblr Thursday Guest Post By Cookie’s Kids Mom Amy Wang
A Vancouver mom sends this question: “Sometimes pre-teens and teens can throw their own version of a tantrum: out of control, yelling, slamming doors or worse. What’s the best method to help defuse this situation in an older child (short of handcuffs) and turn it into a life-learning moment?”
For an answer, I turned to Allan Cordova, a child psychologist at The Children’s Program, a private clinic in Southwest Portland, and a father himself.
Cordova says the best time to think about defusing an adolescent tantrum is before it happens. “Prevention is often the best strategy,” he says. “Once something’s up and running, it can be really difficult to change the course of it.”
Setting ground rules: Parents may want to consider tackling the issue of tantrums when their teens are in a good mood and open to talking. Cordova recently counseled a teen and a parent who agreed to use a “safe word” during disagreements: “If either one of them says it, that’s going to be a signal that they need to take a step back and calm down,” like the bell in a boxing match signaling the combatants to go to their corners.
Parents also need to keep an eye out for patterns — are there certain situations that trigger tantrums? If so, there may be something deeper going on that needs to be addressed, perhaps professionally, Cordova says.
How to defuse: Cordona has a few “don’ts” for parents who find themselves in the midst of a tantrum: