It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Stopping the Blowup Merry-Go’Round

My son does fine in school; no problems there with either grades or behavior. When he gets home, however, all that changes. As soon as he walks in the front door, he becomes upset and angry. He yells and screams at me over nothing. What’s going on? What do I do?

This question came from a very concerned mother. Unfortunately, it came at the end of a parent program I was delivering at a hospital, and my time with her was limited.

For certain, the scenario described by the mother sends up one huge, red flag. If he’s completely appropriate in one environment (school), yet out of control in another environment (home), that is significant.

Is this boy behaviorally hanging on by his fingernails to survive the school day only to unravel when he makes it to his front door, or does he disrespect his mother so much he believes he’s entitled to treat her any way he wants whenever he wants?

Like so many things in life, the correct answer to the question lies somewhere between these two extremes. (It would have helped if I could have had 20 minutes or so with the boy.)

In the few moments I had with this mother before the facility turned the lights out on us, I shared how it seemed like the coming-home-from-school-and-through-the-doorway scene had worked itself into a dysfunctional “dance” of sorts. At some point, the time, the place and the behavior became something both of them expected to happen. And, sure enough, it did!

For starters, I challenged her to interrupt the pattern (the “dance”) by meeting her son in the front yard with a cold drink or by walking with him from the bus to the back door of the house. (I was reaching for those a bit because the lights were going off. It could be any action that takes Mom and Junior away from the front door. Actually, humor helps sometimes. What if the boy came home and found the door GONE? Kinda hard to jump into an old pattern, huh?)

The point would be for Mom to take the lead to noncoercively change the steps that had been leading to the same old explosions.

Like I said, this would be for starters. Even if Mom were to accomplish this “interruption” with positive results, it wouldn’t necessarily mean everything’s going to fall magically in place. There are probably deeper issues that will take some time and assistance to address completely and effectively.

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064
(800) 659-6628 Email:

March 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments