Have you noticed it? One minute she's as happy as a lark, and in a matter of seconds she can become enraged with anger or defeated in tears with no explanation at all. Nothing welcomes a tween to puberty quite like mood swings. Before you get frustrated, remember what it was like, Mom. You were there once too.
Hormones. They can make girls feel as though they are riding an emotional roller coaster through puberty. (Others living with a moody tween might find themselves clinging to the roller coaster for dear life!) Your daughter will either learn to control her emotions and feelings, or she will become controlled by them.
In addition to praying for extra grace and patience with your daughter, here are some tips for communicating with and encouraging your moody girl:
1. You have a choice. Remind your daughter God not only equipped her body with hormones, he equipped her spirit with self-control. God-given and more powerful than any hormone, self-control is a choice she must make. (Galatians 5:22-23a) Place the ball in her court and remind her that she can choose to respond to her emotions by exercising God's gift of self-control.
2. Take a moment. Encourage her to live by truth - she knows God desires us to be loving, respectful and kind to one another. When the mood swing sweeps her off her feet, have her take a moment before she reacts/responds to the situation that has pushed her button. Maybe it's a few deep breaths and counting to ten, going for walk or run, calmly going to her room to cool off and even have a good cry. Honor her need for space and privacy and encourage her to take it if and when she needs space. Mom, use this time to hit your knees in prayer for your girl. Fight for her and ask God for a special does of wisdom, discernment and patience.
3. Process and pray. No one can handle her emotions like God can. Rather than exploding on a parent, sibling or friend, have your daughter express her frustrations to God. Whether she's angry, sad, lonely, frustrated, defeated or just plain grumpy, help her find ways to communicate her emotions to the Lord. Maybe it's journaling, listening to worship music, drawing, or going on a hike and speaking out loud to him. He is big enough - he can handle her moods without taking offense.
4. Right the wrong. When a mood swing strikes, typically girls respond with hurtful words. Proverbs 12:18 says "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." If in her moodiness she has lashed out, show her how to make right the pain she may have caused another; support her as she exercises humility and takes responsibility for her actions.
5. Focus on others. In the midst of a mood swing, our focus is usually on ourself; how we feel, how we were wronged, how we think things should be… There's no better way to dispel a mood swing than by focusing on someone else. Establish a project she can return to when she's feeling a little hot-headed. Maybe she would enjoy crafting fleece blankets for the local animal shelter, writing notes of encouragement to the community police officers & firemen, baking goodies for the nurses at the hospital or making photo collages for friends. By choosing to focus on others, she takes quick control of her heart, mind and emotions and operates with Jesus' servant heart.
6. You need to respect her. Yes, mom. Respect her. She doesn't understand her mood swings any more than you do at the moment. If you desire your tween to act respectfully toward you, you need to extend the same respect to her. Don't fly off the handle or resort to yelling (or participating in the tantrum with her). Your girl's body is changing and her brain is undergoing serious re-wiring; either of which can make her extremely volatile at times. By no means should you tolerate her tantrum; give her time to pull herself together before you discuss the situation. Ask if she wants you to stay or be alone while she calms down. When she's ready to talk, listen - listen deeply to what she has to say. Even if you disagree with her position, beliefs or current struggle, seek to find a happy middle. Acknowledge your girl's perspective. Hug her - hold her if she'll let you - and express to her how much she is loved. Pray with her about the situation that has upset her and ask that God teach her how to exercise self-control. Let her know that you've been in her shoes before. Remember what it was like for you… draw that grace from your toes if you need to!
Parenting through the tween years can make you feel like you're the one swinging off your rocker! Avoid the temptation to steer clear of your moody tween. This is when she needs your love, affirmation and acceptance the most.
What methods have you found helpful when coping with your tween's mood swings?