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How to Respond to Door Slamming

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Door slamming is a notoriously triggering event for parents.

So why are young children slamming the door?

1. They are angry and their lid is flipped. The parts of their brain responsible for making choices are offline and the parts of the brain responsible for fight and flight are steering the wheels.

2. They are moving away in anger (which is actually a good choice) and by going into a room solo, they are avoiding the stimulus that is upsetting their nervous system (the stimulus might be you, or a sibling, or a video game etc).

3. They are emotionally flooded with neurochemicals that drive behavior and lack the neurochemicals that inhibit impulses.

4. They have not yet developed the complex capacity needed to manage big influxes of anger.

What can we do?

1. Calm our own bodies.

2. Cultivate curious compassion and empathy (anyone else ever said or did something you regret when you were angry?)

3. Create a relationship where your child feels seen and heard in the hardest of moments.

4. Help them process what they need and how they can ask for it next time.

5. Remember that doors do not have feelings.

What if they break a door? Have them help you fix it or pay for it to be fixed. Do that accountability with kindness and in protection of your relationship. IF they are going through some really terrible stuff in their life, maybe just give them some grace and fix the door as an act of generosity and compassion.

The less you freak out about door slamming, the less it will happen. The less you freak out about your child being demonstratively angry, the less they have to up the ante to try to get you to understand how deeply they are feeling it and needing your support.

Anger is hard to communicate and hard to tolerate. You modeling that process will be the thing that shifts your child's relationship to anger and their capacity to safely regulate and share what they need.


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