It’s often thought that teens have the market cornered when it comes to moodiness, but many parents of tweens would argue that their kids can give their older counterparts a run for their money.
What causes tweens to be moody and how can parents handle the dramatic ups and downs that can sometimes define the pre-teen years?
Ask a group of parents what age they find most challenging and most will say the teenage years… unless they have a moody tween. It turns out, the drama associated with teenagers can start much earlier than often expected. "Kids develop at different rates and developmental trends are showing that children today are beginning puberty at earlier ages than in the past," says Jerry Weichman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist specializing in adolescents and author of the book How to Deal. "The beginning of puberty commonly marks an emotional time where tweens are also fighting to establish their own identity and gain a sense of independence from their parents."
High school is typically considered an extremely difficult time in a child’s life but middle school kids can be particularly difficult. "My experience with tweens in my practice is that whether it’s dealing with friends, bullying or peer pressure, middle schoolers are harder on one another than high schoolers," says Dr. Weichman. "This is also when kids begin to rebel against things that are not enjoyable such as homework, chores, and family obligations for no other reason than it is not what they want to do. This typically does not bode well for the parent-child dynamic." On top of all of this, tweens today are enveloped by the unrealistic expectations of pop culture, and constantly influenced by social media trends (including cyber-bullying). No wonder they’re a moody bunch.
Sometimes the tween moodiness can enter without warning, leaving many parents wondering what happened to the sweet kid they knew just yesterday. It can be difficult to not take this sudden change in demeanor personally, but parents need to remember that mood swings are just a part of adolescence. Dr. Weichman recommends that parents take the following steps when a moody tween becomes a part of your household:
Unfortunately, you never know how long this moody phase will last. It could be short-lived or it could extend well into the teen years. Either way, it’s all a part of the joys of parenting.
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