It is my teenage daughter’s birthday and everything is set.
Her friends are excited and so are her siblings. But to my surprise, my daughter is mood-less, not excited and totally uninvolved.
Navigating your teens’ emotions and trying to help them manage can be quite a challenge.
Often we have woken up to cheerful, edgy, grumpy teenage moods that will depend on the weather, her outfit, or nothing at all.
But a healthy co-existence is important for both parents and children.
Those teenage years aren't easy, but applying the following strategies may help you survive the mood swings.
- Remember how it felt: The good news is that you have been through the same stage and know exactly how it feels. It's awkward in some situations, then there's the battles of wanting to stand out and wanting to fit in at the same time. Remembering this will help you understand that your teenager’s brain is still developing.
- See your teenager the same as your toddler: My little daughter is two-and-a-half and dealing with her tantrums needs a lot of patience. But so does the mood swings of my eldest daughter. For the simple reason that they should know better, we tend to understand our toddlers more than we do our teenagers. But seeing them as the same has helped me handle both my children calmly and with understanding.
- Stand your ground: My teenage daughter wrote me a long text citing reasons why I should let her go to her friend’s night party, and my answer was a big no. When I came back home, I knew she was upset and didn’t want to talk to me, but I went to her room, asked if she was OK, and then proceeded to do other things. By this, she knew I cared about her, but wasn’t bowing to her demands.
- Self-control: Controlling what comes out of your mouth in an argument with your teen is very important. Words can be damaging, especially if spoken in anger, and they can drive a wedge between you and your child. Once you realize your child’s ears aren’t 'listening', you can choose to drop the issue for a while and then revisit it when you both have calmed down.
- See the hormones: Your teenager is going through so many physical and emotional changes driven by hormones that they don't understand. I sometimes know when the hormones are talking, and also when they aren’t answering back.
- Don't react: When my daughter is edgy or grumpy, I initially found it easier to want to react the same way or even worse. But I recently learned that adding fire to the moodiness does not help. Giving a lecture often has no effect on my daughter, who either tunes me out or we argue and accomplish nothing. So instead I have decided to feed love, patience, and understanding.
- Go an extra mile: To help cool down the moodiness, I sometimes go an extra mile by bringing her favourite ice cream or cupcakes, or help her fold her clothes as we clean her room rather than order her to do it. I will drop an ‘I love you' card in her bag. This she looks forward to and enjoys a lot.
- Focus on building a relationship: One thing I look forward to is having a good relationship with my daughter when she is an adult, better than what I had with my mother. If focusing on her moods and wanting things done my way will drive us apart, then loosening a little on my side doesn’t hurt.
It's good to talk
Above all, make sure your teenager feels safe and loved as they navigate these difficult years.
And ensure they know they can talk to you about anything - and feel comfortable doing so.
Looking beyond their mood swings and remembering their wonderful personal traits will help you survive this stage together.