My son was the most agreeable, mild-mannered kid...until he hit puberty. Then, over the course of the next three years, he turned into a monosyllabic behemoth who only wants to play with his friends on the computer. As much as I love him (and I do, COMPLETELY), I only know he's alive when 1) I hear the toilet flush 2) he comes down to the kitchen to forage for food.
After a LOT of reading (books, on the Web) and talking to other parents as well as a few counselors, here are
10 Tips To Deal With Your Teenager's Mood Swings
- Don't take it personally. This is not about you, it's all about your teenager. Between hormones and the pressures of school and extra-curricular activities, these kids are tornadoes of emotion. They're not provoking you deliberately: they can't help themselves!
- Be there for your teen. I don't just mean emotionally, telling them they can talk to you about anything. I mean physically; the more opportunities they have to encounter you, the more comfortable they'll be in talking to you. Case in point: when I'm up late, Junior will sometimes invite me downstairs for a snack during which we'll cuddle on the couch. We don't have to talk, but on more than once occasion, he's confided in me about something bothering him. SWEET!
- Model what to do when you're having a mood swing. When I get really frustrated or moody, I remove myself from the situation for a bit until I cool down. My son has done the same thing, waiting until he composes himself before talking.
- Invite your teen to be a part of things. One of my son's favorite phrases is “I don't wanna.” That's acceptable sometimes, but not others. When there's a family adventure or one of his sister's gymnastics meets, he is required to attend just as we attend his marching band competitions. It's what WE do as a FAMILY.
- Teach your teenager to express herself and identify what she's feeling. I get frustrated when my kids don't listen and I tell them that. Give them the language (“torn,” “bittersweet,” “lonely”, “irritated”) to express themselves without resorting to name-calling or profanities.
- Give your kid space. Running after a moody teen does not good. Let them sort it out and be there for when they have.
- Provide outlets for teenager's physical and emotional energy. Exercise is essential for everyone, especially kids at this age. Encourage your kid to join a sport, individual or team, so they get moving.
- Encourage your child to eat right. I've had my son accompany me to the grocery store to pick out healthy foods he'll eat. This way I'm not cooking meals he has no intention of eating while he nukes a burrito.
- Get them help. If you suspect your child is depressed, drinking, or into drugs, don't hesitate to contact a professional.
- Give your teen unconditional love. Even when they're at their most annoying, they still need you.
I'm not religious, but I suspect that the “surly years” are Nature's way of pushing our kids away. They're SO nasty, you want them out of the nest!
As I write this, I can hear my son talking with his friends over his computer. Every once in a while I hear a note or two of the kazoo and am reassured that he's still the sweet, goofy kid I've known his whole life. His mood swings? They're normal. And puberty? We'll get through it together.
Thank you for reading!!!