Moody tweens

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Ciaran has always been my ‘Golden Child’. He’s been a sweet natured, happy little boy who has always been available for a cuddle.

Now aged 12, my gorgeous son has turned into a moody, distant Tween, who grunts answers instead of speaking. I swear the only word left in his vocabulary is ‘fine’. My husband is threatening to remove all the doors in our house; he's fed-up with Ciaran slamming doors when he's in a mood.

My patience is running thin.

I always knew the hormones would kick in, but I didn’t expect it quite so soon.

It's very normal for Tweens, or children between the ages of 8 and 12, to be moody. Hormones are up and down and the reality is that many of them are trying to figure out what's happening with their bodies.

External stress on preteens

Cassey Chambers, Operations Director of The South African Depression and Anxiety Group, says external factors may also be to blame. ‘There are a lot of changes happening; the role of child to preteen, more responsibility, more exposure to various external factors, school pressure etc’.

Chambers says it's important that parents maintain communications between themselves and their child.’Keep the conversation network open’ she says. ‘Find out what is going on in the child's life, how school is going, who they are friends with and what they worry about’.

The key here, as I have found, is not to interrogate your Tween or you'll probably get the standard answer, ‘fine’. Chat gently to your child while doing routine things, like driving home from ballet or cricket practice or while making lunch.

Be understanding to a point and when discipline is necessary, be firm but fair, explaining why you're taking action.

It's important that even if your child doesn't want to talk to you, that you make sure he has someone else to talk to. This could be another parent, a granny, a friend or school counsellor.

Chambers says generally parents don't need to worry about their moody Tweens and only need to seek professional help when there are signs that are out of the ordinary.

It's so hard as a parent not to lose your cool when requests to empty the dishwasher or finish homework are met with huffing and puffing, eyes rolling and general whining. I could often quite easily drop kick Ciaran into next year. But one must be patient, I suppose.

While parenting a Tween can be challenging at best, I am enjoying certain aspects of my ‘golden child's’ transition to teenhood. I'm able to talk to Ciaran about more grown up things and he has a wicked sense of humour, that I can now appreciate.

Share your experiences of preteen mood swings below, or mail us on chatback@parent24.com.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
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