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Techniques for Teens to Help With Self-Control

By Joshua McCarron ; Updated June 13, 2017

For a teenager with typical hormonal fluctuations, insecurities and new life experiences, showing restraint at all times presents a challenge. Anger often creates feelings that result in violent outbursts. Other examples of loss of self-control include overeating, illicit drug use, alcohol consumption and sexual activity. A teenager's ability to exercise self-control in difficult situations will help him avoid self-destructive behavior and stay out of trouble.

Identify Triggers and Signs

According to the Counseling Center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, a teenager about to lose control may exhibit physical warning signs brought on by a trigger. Something as simple as someone's tone of voice, or feeling disrespected, can initiate negative emotions. Physical reactions to triggers may include clenched fists, a clenched jaw and sweaty palms. Teenagers and their caregivers should learn to recognize the signs and triggers of an impending loss of self-control to help defuse potentially dangerous situations before they escalate.

Cognitive Restructuring

According to the American Psychological Association, cognitive restructuring means changing the way you think. An angry teen has a tendency to exaggerate her thoughts and become overly dramatic about seemingly small issues. Getting angry and losing control may actually make you feel worse. By replacing inflated negative thoughts with more rational ones, teens can maintain self-control. As an example, rather than using words such as "awful" or "terrible" to describe a situation, tell yourself that it's frustrating but not the end of the world.

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Assertive Behavior

Learning assertive behavior, not aggressive behavior, may help a teenager achieve positive outcomes when confronted with situations that cause him to lose control. According to the Counseling Center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, "Assertive behavior involves standing up for personal rights and expressing yourself in direct ways that do not violate another person’s rights." An assertive teenager uses "I" statements, takes responsibility for his own feelings and avoids exaggerating with words like "never" and "always."

Martial Arts

Martial arts training provides a classic model for creating self-esteem, self-discipline and self-control in teenagers. Asian martial arts focus on respect, tradition and mental strength. According to Iowa State University Hapkido, you need self control physically to protect yourself and others in life and in practice, and mentally to help you interact with people in day-to-day life.

Deep Breathing

According to the American Psychological Association, relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and visualization can help calm down angry feelings. A teenager can learn to breathe deeply, from the diaphragm, not the chest. In a quiet moment, teach a teen with self-control issues to visualize the negative emotions exiting her body each time she exhales, or to picture a relaxing experience from her past or imagination. Encourage her to practice deep breathing daily. The APA also recommends the daily practice of yoga. With practice, deep breathing will take over before a negative situation has time to escalate.

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