How to prevent outbursts

Have you ever felt so angry, you said or did something that later caused regret? This is normal and for most of us, we are able to move in and out of irritable feeling-states every day. Discomforting feelings come and go and learned coping skills help manage these feelings.

For some children and teens, emotions are not easily tamed. They are exquisitely sensitive and react strongly to every issue. They become overwhelmed emotionally, resulting in an intense and long-lasting outburst even for a minor consequence.

Parents often describe living with a child that has intense emotions as 'walking on eggshells" and they try to adapt to the behavior. Unfortunately, this adaptation only serves to enable the child's anger outbursts. It is important to understand how you and your child are participating in this process together, therefore the solution must now become systemic.

Pensive hispanic little boy looking through a window
Young man relaxing with his little boy in the park and talking to him.

starting with the parent

Even at difficult moments, try to help your teen communicate more clearly as well. Diffuse the anger first and once it has subsided, you can come back to the problem and let them know you are willing to listen and have a respectful conversation.

One way is to start with yourself and ordinary things that get you angry. First, when you are getting mad, notice what triggers it and how it manifests in your body. There are probably particular triggers that set you off, such as if someone is rude or if you make a repetitive mistake

Once you have logged this information, you can practice with some family situations, first by imagining a typical or recent scenario that gets you mildly-to-moderately angry; this might feel a little artificial at first, but if you let your mind talk you into it, you'll conjure up enough anger responses so you can similarly work with your mind and/or body to keep the anger from welling up and taking over.

All-Encompassing Approach

Most families do not drastically shift from harmony and balance to strife and acute stress. This change occurs due to ongoing frustration and conflict. The tools described here can be of great help in restoring emotional balance to a family's process. The rules, limits, boundaries and expectations may not need to change; more than likely it's the way they are delivered that will reduce disputes and encourage healthy emotional expression.

Solution Focused Therapy for Personal Growth