It’s always been widely believed that as our children reach puberty and grow into their teen years, hormones will be running the show. As parents, we see these hormones as moody body-snatchers making our kids do and say strange things.
However, your tween or teen’s moodiness might not be caused by hormones at all. And blaming these invisible perpetrators for every odd or rude behavior may actually hurt your child in the long run.
That’s because your middle schooler is living a very hectic and crazy life every single day. Most of us wouldn’t trade our own stressful adult lives to go back to school for any amount of money!
Unh uh… not going.
Read: Raising confident Teens
4 Cures for Preteen Moodiness
As our children transition from
The kids they used to be besties with all of a sudden think your kid isn’t cool anymore, they go from having one teacher to seven, and their body is seriously doing some crazy things.
All of this alone would make anyone feel a little out of sorts. But when you add on your tween’s very immature brain, which isn’t even close to being finished growing, life can simply feel overwhelming for your child.
It can be a real eye-opener to learn that a lot of typical teen behavior and general moodiness isn’t necessarily caused by hormones at all, but instead by things we can control.
Uh hem… that means we can actually do something real to help!
Tweens Desperately Need More Sleep
As tweens and teens get up at the same time as a typical working adult, they get ready to head into an
Studies show that 60 to 70% of American teens live with a borderline to severe sleep debt.
Sleep deprivation puts teenagers into a kind of perpetual cloud or haze, explains Dr. Mary Carskadon, a professor of psychiatry at Brown University and director of chronobiology and sleep research at Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island.source
It’s recommended that all kids ranging in age from 12 to 17 get at least 9 to 10 hours of sleep each night. We can see how hard this is to achieve with their early waking school hours.
Most kids this age probably aren’t
Encouraging your kids of all ages to have one hour before bed where they do enjoyable non-screen activities is proven to help prevent sleep problems.
In addition, keeping similar wake-up times on the weekends helps too. Apparently, sleeping in till noon on the weekends hurts their sleep cycles during the week. You may want to allow them a little extra sleep on Saturday mornings, though!
Here are more sleep tips for teens.
Tweens Desperately Need Nutritious Food
There’s a reason your teen seems to want to eat all the food in your house! They’re growing at the rate they were when they were that sweet, little toddler.
Their bodies are growing at alarming rates, and snacking and grab-and-go meals aren’t cutting it. We must encourage more whole foods whenever possible to reduce the amount of processed foods our teens are consuming.
They’re tasty, convenient, and very attractive to our kids. Packaged and processed foods are also everywhere including our kid’s school. Most children are consuming the typical Modern American Diet (MAD diet) every day.
“Study after study in the medical research journals confirm that people who are most dependent on MAD-style eating habits have increased levels of depression, anxiety, mood swings, hyperactivity, and a wide variety of other mental and emotional problems.” —Tyler G. Graham and Drew Ramsey, The Happiness Diet
Offering many options of healthy, whole foods like sweet clementines, crackers, or veggies with hummus, and healthy nuts like pistachios are easy and tasty snack alternatives to candy bars and chips.
Desperately Need a Break
Wait a minute, all my teen does is lay around all day… breaking is all she does!
Is that what you were thinking?
Having a break doesn’t necessarily mean laying on the couch, watching TV, or taking a nap. Tweens and teens simply need permission to take a mental and physical break from the stress of their days.
Yes, tweens experience stress… lots of it.
They live in an unusual environment AKA middle school that requires them to change their physical and mental state, sometimes drastically, at the sound of a bell. That
They dive right into American History and give a class presentation on George Washington’s family life, walk down the hall to take an Algebra exam, run a 4 minute mile in P.E., have a profound discussion on the poetry and life of Robert Frost, sit ackwardly in the cafeteria at the “uncool” table, dissect a butterfly in biology, learn a new song on the trumpet, and the day’s not even done yet.
All of this is happening with different teachers who have unique demands and personalities. And let’s not even talk about all the judging, bullying, and peer-pressure being thrown around at our kids every single day.
They need a break.
They need permission to feel how they feel.
They need a space to feel accepted, loved, and un-judged. To feel loved, supported, and encouraged.
They need a break from the pressure.
Our Tweens Desperately Need Us
Teen depression and suicide rates are staggering and on the rise. It’s clear that something is missing.
Teen suicide attempts have increased by 23 percent. Even more troubling, the number of 13-to-18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.source
While sleep, food, and downtime are very important to our growing kids, what they need most is us.
Tween and teens need to see us present, hear us cheering them on, and know that we love them unconditionally… no matter how many mistakes they make.
Being a present parent doesn’t mean being physically with them 24/7, but it’s about creating a lifestyle of making them a priority.
We can do this by making a habit of really listening to them and carving out a small piece of one-on-one time regularly (even 5-10 minutes) can make a habit of real connection.
Raising children at any age isn’t easy,
How do you relate to your tween or teen? Share your tips in the comments below!