Teenage tantrums

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  February 2, 2010 06:00 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Is it unusual for a thirteen-year-old boy to have occasional temper tantrums? I've heard that adolescence is like a second toddlerhood, but does it include such outbursts? Similar to his toddler tantrums, he was tired, frustrated, and not getting his way.
From: ML, Arlington

Hi ML,

Are you saying the tantrums actually look like they did when he was a toddler? Like getting on the floor and kicking his feet, or banging walls? Screaming at the top of his lungs?

No, this is not typical. What experts mean when they say that teens are a lot like toddlers is more that they are incredibly ego-centric, that their moods can come and go in a flash, that they can be difficult to reason with. But I've never known anyone to mean actual physical tantruming. Are there parents out there who have? Please write in!

Meanwhile, considering that your son must be feeling a level of frustration, alienation and/or confusion that is atypical, I wonder:  Have you checked in with the school? What are they noticing? Changes in behavior? Changes in friendships? At home, is he sleeping? Eating? Is there a computer in his room that could be a source of the problem -- for instance, that he's playing role-playing games deep into the night and not getting enough sleep and thus can't cope with his real life?

Start by talking to him, describing the changes in behavior that you're seeing ("You know, I wondering if something's going on for you. I've noticed you seem different lately...")  That may take you no place the first time, but just knowing you've noticed may be important to him. Teens who are acting out often feel out of control and don't know how to help themselves. I don't want to diagnose or pathologize via email, but I think you do need to gather some information and get the conversation started. Something's going on.

I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

add your comment
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag

Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.

Child in Mind

All parenting discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed

click here to subscribe to
Child Caring