March, 2017
What's happening at the Center for Developing Minds...

"Why Are You So Angry?"
                              ~ Cassandra Harms, LMFT  

I see many teens who come to therapy because they feel angry.  Some of the reasons they report feeling this way has to do with stress, feeling misunderstood, parents not listening, and feeling angry with themselves.  

Stress is one of those feelings that can be easily disguised as anger. Stress or anxiety may start with snippiness, but if met with criticism from a parent, can escalate to a full-blown meltdown.  Many of the clients I see come in with the diagnosis of ADHD. Children and teens with attention issues can get overwhelmed easily and lash out or shut down as a result of stress.  Parents often interpret this behavior as disrespectful and when attempting to set a limit, may inadvertently "poke the bear," which then turns into a fight.

Some teens report feeling misunderstood by parents and other adults.  Because of the major remodeling going on in their brain, they can be vulnerable to an increase in impulsivity and emotional reactivity and may be unable to see the big picture.  Parents often feel frustrated when talking to their teen who can be so concrete, focusing only on the facts and missing the context of the situation.  This type of behavior can get exacerbated with lack of sleep, poor diet, or underlying agitation.
In our fast moving world, it can be difficult to really listen to our teens particularly if they are ranting or complaining.  Sometimes they are just looking for a safe place to share their thoughts and are not at a place to problem solve yet.  Teens react angrily to parents when they jump to solutions immediately or take over the situation without consulting them.  An example of this would be calling a teacher or coach without consulting your teen to solve the the problem.  This can sometimes send a message to that we do not trust that they can handle the situation and may be met with resentment.

Another trigger to note is that depressed teens can often look angry rather than sad. They are disappointed with themselves and it manifests itself in irritability and agitation.  Be aware of this behavior, particularly if it seems out of the blue or if it lasts several days.

The teenage years can be challenging, particularly if parents respond to these behaviors with equal intensity or anger.  It is important to keep in mind that our teens are not purposefully trying to be difficult, they are more likely struggling with being able to regulate their emotions at the moment. Looking at our teens in this way may help us approach them more empathetically and help give them the opportunity to articulate the true reason they are upset.
If you would like some tips and suggestions about how to manage anger and aggravation issues with your children, please join therapist, Cassandra Harms, LMFT, at the clinic on March 16th, 2017, at 7pm. That evening she will host a CDM child development chat, "Why are you so angry?" which will include an in-depth discussion and question and answer session. The chat is free-of-charge.
Child Development Chats
Throughout the year, the clinicians at the Center for Developing Minds host informal and interactive sessions -- Child Development Chats -- where topics in child behavior, development concerns and parenting questions can be discussed. The chats allow parents, teachers and other clinicians to learn from each other under the facilitation of CDM professionals. The chats are held at the Center for Developing Minds and are free-of-charge. Adults only, please. The next sessions will focus the discussion on these two topics:

Thursday, March 16  
""Why are you so angry?" Managing aggravation at home."  
Featuring Cassandra Harms, M.A., L.M.F.T.

Tuesday, April 25 
"Thinking about Emotions: Parenting techniques for calmer interactions."  
Moderated by Dana Erhard-Weiss, Ph.D., MFTI.  

Please click this link for the complete 2017 Child Development Chat calendar:

ADHD ~ Supporting Misunderstood Minds: Special Topics in Special Needs
A workshop presented by Dr. Korb at Parents Helping Parents, San Jose

Tuesday, April 25, 2017: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Understanding ADHD begins with an awareness of how the brain's attention and organization systems function. Damon Korb, M.D., will show how the individual variations in these abilities affect how a child learns and behaves and will provide behavioral, educational, and medical strategies to address these differences. Participants will leave with an understanding of how the attention system functions, how a diagnosis of ADHD is made, interventions to support attention, strategies to build organizational skills, and the types of medications used to treat attention dysfunctions.

To attend this event, please use this link: