As a parent of a tween there are times when you find yourself faced by specific situations, which seem to belong to the tweenage years. Betwixt and between childhood and the teen years, there are times when your tween may act in unpredictable and emotional ways. One minute she presents as mature and insightful, the next she is screaming yelling and perhaps even flailing when you gently set a limit.
The pre-puberty years can indeed be difficult for both you and your tween. From a developmental perspective, as your child moves from tween to teen there are many biological changes. The transformation process can result in an unpredictable storm of emotions and super sensitivity at times when you may expect it least.
Just when you thought he has grown out of tantrums, you see that old familiar flash in his eyes and flush on his face. If you are in a public place, you may experience disbelief, embarrassment, frustration, and even anger. This is one behavior you look forward to him outgrowing.
Identifying why your tween continues to tantrum may be less important than learning how to discourage the behavior. The question then becomes how and where do you start?
1.) In the words of Winston Churchill “Keep calm and carry on.” This should become your mantra during these difficult and sometimes embarrassing situations. While you may have the urge to scream or yell the simple fact is that this response will probably only escalate the situation.
2.) Be careful what you say in these heated moments your tween may not be listening to you but she clearly hears what you are saying. The urge to scream out “Stop acting like a baby,” or “What’s wrong with you?” may be strong, but will they really make the situation better? Probably not. In addition, your tween as mentioned above is in a vulnerable developmental stage when his sensitivity is high. He may take your words to heart which will only make the situation worse.
3.) Be consistent and firm. If you want to discourage this behavior in the future, the last thing you should do is give in. Of course this is easier said than done. After all, when your tween is in the midst of an episode, the quickest way to get her to stop may seem like giving her what she wants. In reality the only lesson she will learn from you is that a tantrum is a sure fire way to get what she wants exactly when she wants it.
4.) Set up clear behavioral consequences with him to prevent another situation in the future. After all, prevention trumps intervention any day.
5.) Sit down and discuss the situation later. During a calm moment talk with your tween about the incident. Explain your concerns and listen to him perspective about the situation. Validate what him by was acknowledging how frustrated and angry he was feeling. Remember just because you are expressing empathy for what he was feeling, does not mean you agree with the behavior. You may be surprised how far a little empathy can go.
6.) The good news is that in time this too shall pass. If you remain consistent with consequences and communicate clearly with your tween about your concerns she will grow out of this behavior soon enough.
The tween years can feel tumultuous and tricky for both you and your tween. Often described by tweens as an age of awkwardness, your tween is trying to negotiate between the childhood she is leaving behind and the adulthood she is moving toward. This is not any easy feat for either of you. With a little patience and a lot of love and support from you your tween will start acting more like a teen and less like a child. Some day in the midst of a philosophical argument that you believe you are losing with him, you will look back on the days when a simple ‘no’ was just enough. Enjoy the ride, your tween will get to her destination before you know it!