Many parents feel like their teen’s explosive emotions are too much to handle… or feel like they can’t help their kid get through them. It’s overwhelming for any parent who tries to connect with their child and is met with slammed doors, a sharp remark, or screamed at. On top of that, responses like “You just don’t get it!” and “That’ll never work.” It can cause you to lose confidence in helping your kid…

And if they shut down emotionally and lock you out of their mind, that’s even harder to break through.

It’s important to notice that when teens share their frustrations or worries… they don’t want you to fix the problem. Chances are, they know what they need to do. 

They don’t feel confident in trusting their gut, or fear a worse emotional wave they can’t keep under control. Which leads to anticipating the future, and the next wave… and worry leads the days from there.  

When you feel like your emotions are always on, and you can’t make them pass by, stop, or ease the intensity… you can only keep it together for so long before freaking out.

Let’s say your kid had a basketball game and it didn’t go well. They didn’t score anything for the team, and the team lost.

If your teen is sensitive or a perfectionist, they most likely feel ashamed for having feelings about things that didn’t go as planned to begin with. 

They know it’s out of their control. They know they need to let it go.

But they lack the skills of letting things pass.

So they clutch self criticism to their chest as if their life depends on it, thinking it will make them better next time. They don’t want anyone to see their failure, AND their shame in not being able to let it go.

When you try to point out a solution or offer constructive criticism… 

You hear a nasty remark because you DID see the failure and shame. 

And they don’t know how to talk about it without those big emotions getting in the way. This maintains the explosion/shutdown cycle.

And this puts a damper on things that have nothing to do with basketball… because it bleeds into any other thing that didn’t go right, wasn’t as planned, felt harder than it should have been, etc. 

Next time, rather than jumping in to help your kid solve a problem, sit back and observe. Repeat their worries back to them in a question. “It didn’t go as planned?” “It didn’t work?” It helps them feel heard and listened to, and can slow down the spinning thoughts.

But, it’s not as easy as asking questions. For your kid to feel happy and free, they can’t rely on you for comfort forever. They need to learn how to keep calm throughout the day without pretending like everything’s “fine.” 

…Manage their emotions so they don’t take their frustrations out on you, siblings, or their friends. 

,,,Most importantly, avoid acting out in anger and taking risky actions when upset. Including dangerous actions, such as self-harm and suicide attempts due to bottling up feelings. 

Preventing perfectionism and self-judgement is the key to your child’s future. They CAN attempt new things and survive failures without devastation. This is a skill that can be taught. 

We can help your teen get the most out of their lives by supporting them through learning how to use this skill, and support you too.

If this would benefit your family, please check out our Teen DBT Skills group. This group is perfect for your sensitive teen if they:

  • cry, freak out, or yell at the drop of a hat
  • are overly self-critical and feel like they are ‘not good enough’
  • keep it all together during the school day only to lose it with you at home
  • have suicidal thoughts, or engage in self harmful behavior
  • engage in other risky behavior (breaking curfew, driving recklessly, promiscuity, drug & alcohol experimentation)

Reach out for a complimentary call with our team. We’ll talk about what works best for you and your teen, and help them learn the skills to maintain a peaceful life full of wins and self love.

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