Teenagers are notoriously impulsive, but they have the ability to learn how to be more self-controlled. The benefits are many -- reduced stress, greater self-esteem, and fewer chances the teen will do something he will later regret. Self-control skills learned during the teen-age years will be useful throughout a person's life.
Using Your Brain
Teens can learn to stop and think before they react. If you are a teen who is upset, ask yourself why you feel the way you do. Then think of at least three actions that you could take next -- but don't do anything yet. First, consider each action and ask yourself what is likely to happen if you carried it out. Then make a decision, picking the action you think will work best. Afterwards, evaluate how well your choice worked. If it didn't work out well, think about how you might do things better next time. If it did work out, give yourself a mental pat on the back.
Taking a Time Out
Time outs work with little kids, and they can work with teens too. If you are feeling upset, rather than react right away, do something that will help you calm down and get some distance from your problem. Physical exercise can help discharge strong emotions. Watching TV, listening to music, or reading an engrossing book can all help get your mind off your problems. Sitting quietly and paying attention to your breathing can be soothing. When you are feeling calmer, you will be in a better position to deal with your problem without losing control.
It's hard to maintain self-control if emotions have built up over time to the point where you feel like you might explode. To help prevent that from happening, make a habit of expressing your emotions as they arise. Pick a creative way to do this, depending on your talents and interests. You could describe your feelings in words in a journal or write a story or a poem. You could write a song or draw a picture. You could talk with someone you trust. These expressive activities help discharge emotions before they build up to dangerous levels.
How Parents Can Help
Parents of teens can help their kids learn self-control by setting clear expectations and reasonable limits. Parents can help teens describe how they are feeling. They can encourage teens who are having conflicts with other people to think about why those people act the way they do. They can praise teens when they do exercise self-control. Perhaps the most important thing that parents can do is to be good role models for their teens by exercising self-control themselves.
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