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Acting Out Behavior During the Holidays

At Sundance Canyon Academy, we get questions from a lot of parents who are worried about their child’s behavior during the holiday season. If your teen acts out when he doesn’t get his way, holidays can be challenging. We are writing on this topic today to give some suggestions for managing your child’s behavior this holiday season. Contact us for further information about managing difficult teenage behavior.

The holiday season can be a magical time. You get to spend time with family and friends, partake in holiday traditions, and go to special events. Whether you keep your celebrations small or you get together with extended family, the holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with the people you love.

Though the holidays are great in many ways, they can also be extra stressful. A lot is going on between buying gifts, decorating, cooking, cleaning, and shuttling the family to and from events. You’ve also got to navigate the social dynamics of bringing your family members together. If your teenage child tends to act out during the holidays, this can be especially difficult.

Teens who have behavioral issues throughout the rest of the year are bound to act out during the holidays. You might wish that they would be on their best behavior while they’re at family gatherings and social events, but that’s not how it usually works. The stress of the holidays gets to them as well, and their poor behavior often increases.

Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help manage your child’s behavior this holiday season.

Tips for handling difficult behavior during the holidays

As the parent of a difficult teenager, you need to understand why they’re acting out. They might act out more during the holidays than during the rest of the year, but the root issues are the same throughout the year.

Kids act out because they don’t know how to cope with negative emotions when life doesn’t go their way. During the holiday season, there’s a LOT that won’t go their way. They have to go to events, dress a certain way, interact with people, and generally go along with family plans. Their daily routine is thrown out of whack, and they have to do a bunch of things that they might not feel like doing.

So, it’s important to set them up for success as much as possible before the holiday season so that they’ll know what to expect ahead of time. You can also prepare some behavior management techniques in case things go awry.

Set clear expectations

Going into the holidays, set clear expectations for your child’s behavior. Make sure they understand what they are and are not allowed to do. These expectations could include behavior, language, attire, or anything that matters for your holiday events.

Allow personal space where you can

Since your teen’s routine is being thrown out of whack, it will help if you build in some personal time to do things their way. For example, they might not be allowed to play on their phone during family dinners, but they can go to their room after dinner and play on their phone if they would like to. Allowing personal space gives your child a break from the stress and provides a chance to reset.

Stick to routines when possible

Teens get used to their daily routine, and it’s tough for them to break out of it. This is especially true for teens with mental health issues. Even though the holiday season will mess up your family routine, try to stick to it as much as possible. This will help your teen still feel a sense of normalcy amidst the holiday stress.

Set consequences for poor behavior

If your kid is prone to acting out, set consequences for poor behavior. Talk it over with your kid, and make sure they know the consequences ahead of time. If they act out anyway, follow through with the consequences.

Don’t give in to the behavior

Kids use poor behavior as a means to get what they want. If they know that you’ll eventually cave and let them do what they want, they’ll keep acting out. If your kid does start acting out, don’t give in to the behavior.

Don’t escalate the behavior

When your kid acts out in public, it’s embarrassing and infuriating. When you respond with a big show of emotion, it escalates the situation. Your kid knows that they’ve gotten to you, and they respond in kind. Try to stay calm, and don’t get into an argument with them. Remain calm and enforce the consequences that you set beforehand.

If your teenage son’s behavior gets out of control when he acts out, he may need additional intervention. Anger outbursts that become violent cannot be tolerated at any time of year. If your kid’s behavior gets more violent or dangerous, he might benefit from attending a therapeutic boarding school for troubled boys.

He would receive therapeutic intervention to address his behavior, and the rest of your family would be safe while he is away. Contact us at 866-224-2733 for more information.

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