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Got a Tween? Then You'll Recognize the New Attitude

If storm clouds are brewing at your house, these steps will help you to tame unruly tween attitudes

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The crazy mood swing

Living with a mercurial, moody tween is no picnic. One moment, your child is a sunny sweetheart. The next, an anger-filled zombie. But don’t blame your child — blame a growth spurt in the brain around ages 11 to 13 that impacts mood and behavior. With rapidly changing bodies and minds, kids lack the impulse control and emotional regulation to deal with stress adaptively, and lash out at parents instead.

 

How to help:

Don’t try to problem-solve when kids are at the unpleasant end of the mood spectrum. “When we’re angry, our brains are taken over by a fight-or-flight response and we can’t respond appropriately,” says Roberts. Ask your child to put a numerical value on their anger, from one to 10, and make a family rule to take a cool-down break if anyone tags their fury at five or higher.

 

The peer package

You used to be the epicenter of your child’s life, but lately, there’s a new focal point: peers. These days, your child is dressing, talking, and acting more and more like her pack of tween pals. Worse, she seems to prefer their company to yours. What gives?

 

How to help:

As painful as it may be, parents need to let out the leash a bit more with tweens, says Schafer. “Tweens will choose your company less often, so you need to find other ways to stay connected during this time.”

To maintain a strong connection that will stand the test of peer power, try meeting tweens where they are: chatting, texting, sharing computer games, shopping, or simply listening.

Ultimately, respect is a two-way street, and tweens who don’t feel respected are more likely to dish out disrespect themselves. If we can approach our children from a standpoint of curiosity instead of judgment and really work to uncover what’s driving their behavior, that’s so helpful,” says Roberts. “When someone feels understood, it changes the whole dynamic of the relationship.”

 

Malia Jacobson is a nationally published journalist and mom. She blogs about family health at thewellrestedfamily.com.

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