I LOVE this question that comes from the question bag in our live class (with some spelling corrections 🙂
“Is there anything my parents can do to help me with the emotions of puberty?”
ABSOLUTELY! There are lots of things parents can do to make the emotions of puberty better, or worse. Having these tools in a parent’s tool belt will be very handy when the mood swings strike. If parents start practicing now, they will be ready to use when you need them.
1. DO NOT TELL HER IT’S HER HORMONES. Moms already know this but Dad’s listen up. It may be absolutely true that her hormones are causing a strong emotional reaction but DO NOT TELL HER THAT! (I’m using all caps because that is exactly how she will react!) Her emotions may be exaggerated or her reaction might be stronger, but the emotion is absolutely real. Telling your child they are feeling this way because of hormones, is denying their validity. When you are having strong emotions and someone DENIES or BELITTLES them, it feels HORRIBLE and will make your child feel way worse. At calm moments when all is well, you can plant a seed by ASKING your child if he/she thinks her emotional reactions are due to the hormonal surges of puberty.
2. In order to validate her emotions and help her feel better, tell her what she is feeling. (Don’t ask her, just listen to her story and then take a guess.) You word it in this magical 3-word sentence that goes “You feel ___________.” Make sure it’s a genuine emotion, not “You feel stupid” but “You feel embarrassed” or “you feel….frustrated, disappointed, scared, sad, etc.” When the huge internal storm gets contained in one word, it feels manageable, tangible, easier and you will see your child calm before your eyes. Let them correct you if you get it wrong, surprisingly it still feels good to have someone TRY to understand the feeling, even if your guess is off. Don’t say “You feel LIKE you wish you could…….” Stick with the 3 word sentence and you will be amazed at the result.
3. Observe your child and notice when they feel better and when they feel worse. Kids in puberty are so tuned in to what everyone else is thinking, what’s in/what’s out, what’s cool/what’s not, what their friends, teachers, coaches and parents expect, their own mind may not be that reliable. Point it out to them, “I notice you seem calmer after shooting hoops in outside.” “I notice you seem more relaxed now that you’ve had a healthy meal.” “I notice you seem more agitated when you come off the xbox.” Help them learn about themselves while supporting what works best for your kid.