Some days just don’t start well. One of the kids wakes up on the wrong side of the bed – and it’s so bad you wonder who replaced your sweet, fun-loving kid with this surly grouch. What really makes it bad is one bad mood spreads like the most effective virus…especially when the younger kids watch and decide it must be okay since they see their sibling getting away with it.
So what’s a mom to do?
We all know hormones get rocky as kids mature. I’ve weathered this with my teenage daughter and am beginning that journey with my tweener son. Does that mean we’re destined to let the kids’ moods dictate family life? I hope not! I don’t claim to have this down pat, but here are a couple things I do to try to smooth the roller-coaster of emotion that threatens to derail our days.
1) When I notice a child is acting out of character, I try to get them in another room – away from prying siblings. On the days our hormones and emotions are out of control, it’s easy to be embarrassed by the things we’re doing and saying. Often we know we’re overreacting. I know I’ve had more than my fair share of those moments. At the same time, it’s hard to acknowledge it publicly. Removing the audience helps remove the additional embarrassment of being called to the carpet for that ‘tude.
2) Then I ask the child if they understand what is going on. Do they have insight into what’s happening? Getting them to articulate the root cause the best they can helps them take ownership of their mood. Some days this is easier than others. Sometimes we have to go through these first two steps several times before the child has insight to understand what is happening. I’ve been known to detour from a destination a child is counting on to let them know how serious I am about them owning and correcting their moods.
3) If possible I outline specific actions or words that are inappropriate. Yelling at a sibling for no reason and at a volume I can hear half a house away. Rolling their eyes when I ask them to do something. Passive aggressive refusal to do an assignment they know is required of them. The list could go on. What’s important is that giving concrete examples helps hone in on the behavior and make sure they understand exactly what caused the problem.
4) Then I ask if they need to take some time alone. Pray? Get the space to cool down? What can I do to help them regain control? I try to emphasize that while the hormones and emotions may feel out of control, with God’s help they can exercise control of all areas of their lives. My desire is that my kids learn as young preteens and teens that they can’t let their emotions control their days. Instead, if they acknowledge what is racing through their minds, they can take control of it, their attitude, and ultimately their day.
What strategies have you employed with your kids or the young people in your life to deal with teenage emotions?