Riding the Mood Swing Roller Coaster
Have you ever watched your tween daughter skip through the house listening to her favorite Taylor Swift song only to melt in a puddle of tears moments later because her favorite sweatshirt isn’t clean?
“It’s okay, honey,” you say. “I’ll do it tonight.”
That’s when the real fireworks happen. She may scream “I hate you!” Or she may stomp off to her room and punctuate her disdain with a door slam. Or she may even break down and ask you to hold her.
And guess what? It’s all normal.
Mood swings are a natural part of development for tween/teen girls. In fact, most women can attest they experience some level of hormonal moodiness throughout their entire life. It’s important to note that many boys experience this as well when puberty hits.
Many parents believe there is a specific age in which they have to have ‘the talk,’ about puberty, menstruation, sex, etc., but it’s a conversation you should be having with your daughter throughout her life. If you are not sure where your daughter is in her development, know that pubic and underarm hair has more to do with testosterone, but breast development is due to estrogen, which is an indicator of impending menstruation. Both surges in hormones, however, can spark mood swings.
Not sure how to handle this new person living under your roof? Here are a few tips:
+ Remember it’s the hormones. Don’t be so personally hurt that you don’t recognize that her behavior may be difficult to control. Remember what your daughter is doing is normal and something all girls (and their mothers) must endure.
+Try Talk Before Discipline. Many tween and teen girls are as surprised as their parents at their behavior, and often can’t even rationalize why they are upset. Before you enter punishment mode during an outburst, allow the dust to settle. Then discuss what happened with your daughter and give her some strategies for coping when she flies off the handle, as well as some boundaries. For example, if back talk is a problem, send her to her room for five minutes before continuing the conversation instead of engaging. If she is teary, try a hug before rolling your eyes. This is new territory for you both, so it may take some time to figure out how to navigate this new relationship dynamic.
+ Teach Coping Skills. Try to help your daughter identify these new feelings as well as the signs her hormones are about to wreak havoc on her personality. Ensure that when she gets irrationally upset, those feelings will pass and she will feel better soon. Provide some calming techniques, such as taking a walk around the block, counting backward from twenty or using a meditation app to clear her brain.
+ Encourage a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is so important at this age, so try to make certain your daughter gets at least nine hours a sleep each night. Set up parameters and timeframes for phone and social media usage and stick to it. Include her in grocery shopping and meal planning to show her how to make good choices.
+ Give some space. Some girls get incredibly embarrassed when discussing hormones, puberty or anything related to their development. While some conversations are essential, do not force the issue at every turn and try to be sensitive to her feelings. For example, instead of bringing up her last emotional outburst for discussion at the dinner table in front of her dad and older brother, instead, have a calm conversation before bed when the lights are out and she can avoid eye contact. The point is to meet her where she is and try to communicate in a way that works for your daughter.
+ Remember that this too shall pass. While difficult to endure, many tweens and teens get through this phase relatively quickly, while it takes longer for others. Remember that like everything in parenting, this season will be over before you know it.