Ever wondered, "why is my kid always so mad at me?"
Do you feel like your teen is surrounded by a force field of anger and hostility?
In this article, James Lehman, creator ofThe Total Transformation®Behavioral program for children, talks about anger, hostility and your child.
Understand anger and hostility
First of all, it is important to distinguishWutjhostility. When you are angry, you feel that you have been wronged and you want to fight back in some way.
We all get angry from time to time, it's a natural reaction to certain situations. Children and well-adjusted adults get angry but can handle anger when it arises.
On the contrary, hostility is defensive, waiting for an attack. Hostility is associated with antagonism, hostility, and hatred. What many parents experience as a challenge is, in most cases, hostility.
Think of it this way: hostility is the attitude. And the attitude says, "Don't mess with me." The animosity is constant and full of bad intentions.
"My child is angry and hostile all the time"
I often describe angry children as having a "force field of hostility" surrounding them all the time. Even if you innocently ask your teen, "How was your day?" You get a response full of contempt and disrespect. Or you don't get an answer. This is hostility. And as many parents know, it's hard to deal with a child who's behaving this way.
What should parents do if their child is hostile towards them all the time?
Some parents punish their children for having an attitude. Other parents will scream, yell, and threaten. Unfortunately, these answers are ineffective.
I tell parents that if yelling at our kids was effective, I'd be out of a job. You would just yell at your child and it would change. Or you could bring your kid into my office, I would yell at them and insult them for 45 minutes, and then they would go home and be nice for a week.
The correct answer addresses the underlying problem, hostility, and motivates your child to solve this problem by taking responsibility for their hostile behavior.
Anger, hostility and misconceptions
Hostile teenagers have a distorted mindset in which they are always the victim. Their distorted thinking tells them things aren't fair, that their parents have too many expectations of them, that their teachers are jerks. They believe that nobody but their friends understands them.
In some children, this develops into a general whiff of"I hate you. i am against youAnd this leads to frequent outbursts of anger.
Psychologists call distorted thinkingmisconception. Thinking errors are the thoughts we have that do not correspond to reality and are usually negative and self-defeating. And those who make mistakes in reasoning do not, as expected, notice that their thoughts do not correspond to reality.
Teenagers who make mistakes think they are always the victim. In their minds they are victims of you. They're the enemy, or they're victims of their teachers who, according to your teen, "are after them."
When children with reasoning errors are confronted with consequences, they do not link the consequences to their behavior. Instead, they see the aftermath as further proof that they are victims of the people who are stalking them.
After using these thinking errors for a while, they find themselves in increasing trouble and develop a growing sense of hypervigilance. In the face of criticism or challenges, they lash out or shut down. These are the kids whose parents tell me, "I can't get two words out and he runs up the stairs," or "She keeps yelling at me."
Related content:The Secret to Understanding Inappropriate Behavior: 5 Common Thinking Mistakes Kids Make
Responsibility is the key to dealing with hostility
To end hostility, it is necessary to correct misconceptions. And you address misconceptions by holding your child accountable for their actions, so they eventually learn to take responsibility for their behavior.
Indeed, taking responsibility for behavior is necessary for any lasting improvement in behavior. is the basis ofThe Total Transformation®The child behavior program I developed is the foundation of the authoritative parenting style, which emphasizes setting and enforcing boundaries while expecting parents to raise their children to be independent and self-disciplined.
"I'm afraid to ask my child for something"
Parents tell me they are afraid to ask their hostile child or teen anything because it will only provoke an outburst of anger. Parents argue that it is better to leave the child alone than to deal with anger.
But parents need to understand that the purpose of anger and hostility is to push them away. Hostility and anger are like porcupine quills: they sting and hurt if you get too close.
Hostile children are like hedgehogs all the time. You try to talk to them and they look at you like a hedgehog warning you with its spikes. You try to get closer and the next thing you know it's full of spikes in the shape of a nasty explosion.
And not just you. They are often angry with their siblings. These children usually prefer to hide in their rooms and avoid contact with their families.
There is no pleasant conversation with them. And when you ask these kids something, they answer with oneoutburst.
So your child's attitude now is, "Don't mess with me... Don't mess with me... Don't mess with me... POW!" Now you've done it." And then, an hour later, or the next day, the same thing happens again.
Parents learn to prevent their child from exploding, and as a result, the behavior continues because it has the intended effect of keeping the child in check.
"My son will hate me if I give him consequences"
In fact, your child wants you to believe that if they face your hostility and impose consequences, you will hate them. And we're afraid that if we piss them off too much, our kids won't love us anymore.
But here's the truth: if you make your child or teen angry, don't worry they won't love you anymore. That's the last thing I tell parents to worry about. It's because.
There's a word we use in therapyambivalence. Ambivalence is the concept of conflicting feelings, and it is common for children to be ambivalent about their parents during puberty. Their ambivalence is that they love you but at the same time they hate you. They love you when you're nice to them. They hate you when you hold them accountable.
So whatever kids you love or hate, I think you will see a lot of ambivalence in your child. I think parents have to deal with that and accept it as normal during puberty. In other words, your child can hate you and love you at the same time.
Adults also have ambivalence. Many of us get angry at our spouse while loving them at the same time. We are mad at our children and we love them too. Think about it, the people we get angry at the most are the people we love the most! Anger in relationships is normal; we just have to learn to deal with it. And your hostile child must learn to deal with it.
I explain ambivalence to parents so they don't equate their child's anger and hostility with pure hatred. It's very likely just the negative side of the ambivalence they're feeling. Children love their parents even when they are hostile. Unless there is an abusive situation or a neurological or psychological issue, your instinct is to love your parents.
I always tell parents that if you do things to make your kids love you, they may or may not love you. I don't know. But if you do things and behave in a way that makes them respect you, you dowantloving You. Children want to love people who respect them, and they will find things about you to love.
However, uncontrolled hostility can seriously damage relationships. That's why we have to face hostilities, even if they provoke a short-term outburst of anger.
Remember, you are not looking for friendship, love and affection from your children. It may be there, and I think these kids love their parents, but it's more about getting your kid to play by the rules.
How to deal with your child's anger and hostility
Hostile and defiant children are ready to break things, scold you, and even run away to avoid taking responsibility for their behavior. And parents cannot stop their children from doing these things when they are aggressive.
That's why parents need to focus on the things they have control over. And parents control or should control their own homes. Parents need to take action and enforce rules with effective consequences when those rules are broken. You could start by saying:
"If you don't do your homework, you lose your phone until you return it."
While some children will respond, "Okay, sure, I'll take care of it," hostile children will respond by saying, "That's none of your business. It's my notes. Do not bother me.
So you take his phone. If they refuse to hand over the phone, say:
"Well then I will remove your phone from the phone plan until you agree."
And then remove them from your phone plan.
Think about all the things you have control over and exercise your authority over those things. Consistently exercising that authority over the things you control will eventually trickle down to your child.
In extreme cases, when your child is threatening you and you fear for their safety, you may need to think about itcalling the police. This should be an option as you should never feel unsafe in your own home.
Protect the rest of the family from your hostile teenager
If there are other siblings in your house, have a safety plan for them. Let the children know in advance what to do if their sibling loses control.
Make the plan as safe and useful as possible for your other children. An example could be that they can go to their room and play or read a book. When a fight starts, you can say to the other children:
Go to your room and read a book while I take care of Johnny.
It gets your other kids out of the way. These episodes can be traumatic for younger children, so you'll need to talk to them later. But when Johnny spirals out of control, his safety is paramount.
Make the rules clear to your hostile child or teen
Explain the rules clearly to your child or teen, especially if you don't consistently enforce them. Make sure they know the rules and the consequences if they break them. You can say:
"You meet me. You are hostile to me and the rest of the family. If you are hostile, I will not help you. If you want to be taken to school, if you need to be taken to workout, if you want to go out, if you want to do something, if you want permission to go to parties or whatever, you won't get it. You have to learn to make requests, not demands.”
By the way, I have always advised parents to give their child a carrot big enough to make them want to change clothes. This may include obtaining your driver's license or accessing electronic devices or using your car. Remember that the carrot alone is not enough to bring about change. You must useeffective consequencesAlso.
Teach your child how to manage their anger and hostility
And ask yourself what your child can substitute for hostility if they don't like what's happening. How can they learn to behave differently?
For the children I have worked with, I suggest that they keep a journal and write down their hostile feelings. They could take time off and write without consequences. It sounds weird, and they might not do it the first time, but I've found it works.
By the way, if your child says "I need a break now" and goes to their room, you should never be punished for it unless you are trying to manipulate them into a task or responsibility.
Remember that a break is a coping skill. UsHopeChildren learn to take them themselves. Taking a break will allow your child to relax from the sensory overload until they are calm and composed enough to better understand the situation. It gives them the opportunity to reconsider their thinking errors and distorted thinking.
Children get overstimulated and I think that contributes to anger and misbehavior. When I was working with children in my office, I told them:
“Anytime you want to take a break, just let me know and sit in the other room. Okay for me. But understand, when you come back, we still have to take care of it."
So I would say:
"If you misbehave here and are angry, don't blame me. I gave you the opportunity to take a break.
Giving your child this option also gives them the opportunity to exercise it.
By the way: If your child takes time off while doing their homework, they have to make up for it later. For example, if they have an hour of homework at the kitchen table and take a 15-minute break because something bothers them, they have to make it up 15 minutes later.
Likewise, when your child takes time to do their homework, they need to go back and do their homework.
Get professional help for you and your teen
If your child is hostile, angry, and defiant all the time, you may need professional help dealing with them. If you take her to a therapist, give the therapist six to eight weeks, and if you don't see any changes in that time, I would look for someone else.
I think it's also important to get help with your parenting skills. The bottom line is that you need to learn how to effectively care for a child with angry and hostile behavior patterns. The right techniques are very powerful and can set your child on the right path and restore peace to your home.
Hostile children are hostile to everyone: you, their teachers, the police. You have two options: (1) your child can go to a counselor for an hour a week in hopes they'll learn some coping skills and apply what they've learned at home, and (2) you can get thateffective parenting skillsYou must help bring about change where it matters. I recommend both, which is why I have done both in my practice. I met with children and I met with parents. And it would teach parents the skills to create change at home.
Be professional and firm when confronting your child's hostility.
Suppose you want to make these changes, but in the meantime, every time your child enters the room, you fill the air with a bad attitude. Keep calm and give them direction. Don't get into a fight.
I wouldn't ask, "What's going on?" I wouldn't ask about his attitude. I would say:
"Okay, it's four o'clock. You have to do your homework now, Jessica.
Children walk around with a dismissive attitude, and that affects everyone and everything. But in my opinion it just keeps them focused on the task at hand. If they start making negative comments, say:
"Look, why don't you go to your room until you're ready to act like the rest of us?"
Shut down when your child throws a tantrum
The best way to deal with an angry outburst is to say what you have to say and then move on from the argument. I recommend you say something like:
"I won't talk to you until you calm down."
Then separate. Turn around and leave the room. If your teen yells at you or verbally abuses you when you leave the room, don't react. Don't argue and don't back off. Just keep going.
If you must get in your car and drive around the block, do so as long as there are no small children in the house. But the most important thing is to go further. Go to your room and stay there for a few minutes.
The idea is that once they're in that angry, agitated state, they think you're the enemy that you don't understand and blame you. They see themselves as victims and there is nothing you can do right now to change them. They will think what they will think.
Once you're out of the discussion, there's no point in yelling. Your child may run around the house screaming for a few more minutes, but will usually shut up if he doesn't respond.
Don't try to talk your child out of their anger. Don't try to argue with them. If you try to argue, you give your child a sense of false power and more of a feeling that they are in control and you are not.
Related content:Angry kids: 7 things not to do when your kid is angry
What to do if you fear for your safety
Parents need to understand that, in some cases, a teenager can reach the point where they become destructive, threatening, and even violent if they are not engaged.
If you feel threatened and fear for your safety or the safety of your family, I think it's time to think about itcalling the police.
Ask the police for help because if your child behaves like this, they will get out of control. When you call the police say:
"I don't feel safe here. My son is out of control."
Nobody should feel threatened in their own home. There is no excuse for abuse and you must not tolerate abuse of any kind.
Your child and your feelings
In my experience, the more you ask your child about their feelings, the more likely they are to voice their case. In fact, if you let them, they will scream your case.
Focus on your child's behavior. First of all, behavior has to change. It will be time to discuss your feelings once your behavior has improved.
I say to parents, your child will not find the way to better behavior, but he can find the way to better feelings.
The truth is, some kids want to seem out of control, whether they are or not. Don't forget that misbehaving people gain more power by seemingly losing control. They control you by acting uncontrolled.
Do not accept hostile behavior
When you feel you have to endure this hostile, defiant, or angry attitude in order to be loved by your child, it's called codependency. In a codependent relationship, you have to fulfill a specific role in order to be loved. This is one of its main definitions. Alcoholic Co-dependent Spouse Argues, "You'll love me as long as I excuse your alcoholism."
As the parent of a defiant child says, "You will love me as long as I put up with your shabby attitude and leave you alone."
Parents should try to maintain their dignity and self-respect. Remember like I said before, kids want to love people who respect them. And they will find things to love about you when they respect you. But they won't respect you if you give in and accept their hostile behavior.