High school is a time of firsts. First time behind the wheel. First job. First college interview. For kids with self-control issues it can be exciting…but extra stressful.
Gaining control over emotions and impulses is a process for all kids. And it continues into early adulthood. Kids with certain learning and attention issues like ADHD and executive functioning issues may take longer to get there, however.
“Giving voice to emotions can help teach your teen to recognize difficult feelings before unwisely acting on them.”
If your teen has trouble with self-control, he may need extra help handling all the changes coming his way. Try these tips for helping your high school child stop and think, and then act.
Lay out clear expectations.
Because of their busy schedules, teens may become anxious or angry if they feel like chores or events are sprung on them. Try to fill your child in ahead of time if you expect him to do something or be somewhere.
- “SAT prep is next Thursday. You’ll have to miss your drum lesson, but you can take a make-up lesson on Saturday.”
- “Please have the car back at the house by 4:00 tomorrow. I need to pick your sister up from practice.”
- “If it snows on Tuesday, Grandma will need you to shovel her walk. We’ll look at the weather again on Monday to see if you’ll need to head over after school.”
Acknowledge his emotions.
Your child likely has the language to tell you how certain things make him feel. Help him use those words to gain more control over his reactions. Giving voice to emotions can help teach your teen to recognize difficult feelings before unwisely acting on them.
- “That coach’s call sure made you seem frustrated. Do you want to talk about that?”
- “She said no? That sounds really disappointing.”
Set an example.
You’re still a role model for your teen, even if it doesn’t feel like it most days. When he sees you exhibiting self-control, he’s more likely to do it himself.
If you’re dealing with a crashing computer, for instance, talk with your teen about possible fixes. Mention how you might run certain applications or reinstall particular hardware. He’ll see you’re staying in control instead of blowing your lid.
And he might even have some solutions of his own. When teens come up with their own strategies, they can feel more invested in the project or goal.
Catch your child using self-control.
When you see your teen thinking before he speaks or acts, let him know. Tell him you respect and appreciate his efforts. This kind of positive reinforcement will help him think of himself as someone who can successfully control his behavior.
- “I was proud of you when you walked away from your brother earlier. His teasing sure can make you mad.”
- “I know you would prefer to be at practice right now, but your aunt’s birthday party means a lot to her. Thanks for coming with me.”
- “I liked the way you accepted that criticism at your art show. It can be hard to hear feedback, but you were very gracious.”
Giving your teen the right kind of praise can provide a real boost to his self-confidence. You can also help him build self-esteem and develop self-awareness. Knowing his strengths along with his weakness can help him find his own strategies for success.