Around the world, it happens every single day. Kids who were previously happy, open books come down with a horrible, personality-altering condition. It’s called puberty—and there is no cure besides the passage of time.
Seriously, the erratic emotional swings of tweens and teens would try the patience of a saint. It can strain family dynamics, and make parenting your suddenly irritable, withdrawn kid an uphill battle. So how do you draw the line between acceptable moodiness versus disrespect or disobedience? We’ve outlined some pointers in How to Deal with Your Moody Kids to help you love your child through this difficult season while still making them accountable for their own words and actions.
- Hormones. Remember that there are real physiological changes going on with your child which contribute to their emotional upheaval. The hormonal surges of adolescence are just as real as those in pregnancy or menopause.
- Remember. Try to remember what it was like when you were this age, feeling awkward and unsure of yourself. What worried you the most? What offered you the greatest comfort or reassurance?
- Be available. Teenagers are notoriously private and if you’re seldom around them, you’ll know very little of what’s going on in their hearts and minds. The more time you spend together, the greater your chances of gleaning little bits of info that will help you parent well.
- Give them space. Allow them a reasonable amount of emotional and physical space. It’s a natural process of detachment that they’re going through. If your teen pulls back from your hugs, don’t be offended. He’ll likely reach another stage of emotional maturity that makes him welcome them again.
- Don’t allow disrespect. No matter how upset or sad they may feel, they can still muster the self-control to respect their parents, teachers, and coaches. Life will always have challenges; your child will be happier in the long run if he learns the self-discipline needed to choose the right response despite her feelings.
- Don’t relax your rules or standards to avoid conflict or emotional drama. The boundaries you’ve put in place are there for a reason. Don’t sacrifice protecting them or training them to do the right things in a misguided effort to keep them momentarily happy.
- Don’t allow them to isolate. Some pull-back is acceptable and normal. If your child likes a little more alone time in his room after school than he once did, that’s no big deal. But time interacting with family is still important, so make sure they also spend time engaged with family each day.
- Don’t allow them to drop out. Teens who are really struggling to feel confident or accepted may be tempted to drop out of activities they once loved. While it may be fine to switch up the routine and try something new, kids need the engagement of these activities to grow socially and emotionally. Don’t let them check out on life and further isolate themselves.
Think your child’s moodiness might be more serious? Learn the signs of clinical depression in teens from the experts at the Mayo Clinic.