Is Your Teen Too Hard on Himself? How to Avoid Adolescent Eruptions

Dr. Purushothaman
September 5, 2013

Are you dealing with adolescent eruptions? It often seems they come out of nowhere — one minute, life is moving along smoothly for your child, and the next, it’s incomplete chaos. Welcome to the teenage years!

I have found that to lower the likelihood of these outbursts with my teenagers, working with goal setting and time management skills has been very effective. Life for a teenager can become very complex very quickly. Life was a lot easier during grade school—even with sports teams and the classroom friendship skirmishes the flared up from time to time. Now, during the teenage years, the landscape for peer acceptance can change almost daily, and demands from school, family, friends and outside activities can be overwhelming. My words of advice to my kids included the following:

Be comfortable with who you are. This started with beginning to consider what goals they might want to pursue. We talked about ambitions they might have and dreams they might want to follow. Nothing lofty, just beginning to talk about what interests they had and identifying the talents they had which made them unique.

Yes and No. By beginning to identify their talents, interests and personality traits, they were developing a sense of self. This allowed them to make choices in life and say “yes” to pursuing certain activities while saying “no” to others. Consequently, the pressure of such a complex teenage world seemed to diminish somewhat because they could begin to see a path to follow and not feel they had to participate in everything or excel in every activity. They could focus on those aspects of life that had the greatest consequence for them. Adolescent eruptions became less frequent when they realized they didn’t have to put themselves under unrealistic pressure.

Real-Time. Developing a realistic use of their time also caused the adolescent eruptions to subside. Helping them construct a daily schedule, with built-in time for sleeping and family meals, was a great start. Scheduling specific times for studying and limiting the number of extracurricular activities they could pursue also became part of this scheduling strategy.

Teens often find themselves stressed because they are trying to please everyone. They get upset with themselves when they fall short in this attempt. The adolescent eruptions that I have witnessed over the years are often my teens expressing anger at themselves for not being able to meet the impossible standards they set for themselves. As parents, we can help our kids by providing assistance in goal setting and time management skills. Believe me, they will be appreciated, even if your kids don’t tell you right now.

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