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How to deal with Terrible Tweenage Temper Tantrums

Q: ” I’m exhausted. We as a family have just had a week from hell with my 11 year-old, normally sweet daughter who has suddenly became so badly behaved and disrespectful. She shouted at her father and me and challenged us around every corner. I was very angry earlier today when I had to push my way into her bedroom, because she was forcing her door closed. Lots of unnecessary hysterical screams of  “help!” from her ,when I eventually got in. I was taken aback because, if felt as if, suddenly I just didn’t know my child. Another example: Her father asked her to get ready, as we planned to go out. She answered “Leave me alone, you idiot!”  I think he thought he had misheard her, until she repeated herself. He then left her room, without saying a word. I could see the hurt on his face. This is not the first time her behaviour, this week, has reduced me to silent tears. This evening, after she calmed down, I tried to find out why she is behaving the way she is. I questioned her about school and friends. Nothing seems to be amiss there. What happened to my sweet child? She’s turned into an angry person, I don’t want to know.”

A: ” Stay calm. This is teenage hormones going bezerk. Allow them time to calm down. Set clear boundaries with love. Understand what’s going on inside them. It’s the behaviour you dislike … remember at all times, you love the child.”

” We forget that puberty does not just mean body changes. There is so much going on in the brain at this time too. Breathe and try to focus on connection rather than correction.”

” I’m a firm disciplinarian and don’t tolerate rude, unruly behavior out of the blue and I don’t believe we can solely blame this on hormones. BUT I do believe in love and kindness and talking things through to find a solution or the answer to what’s going on. And hopefully it IS nothing and she’s just pushing your buttons to see how far she can go. To parent through this period, you need patience, love, understanding, pretty much everything.”

” I think that we, parents shouldn’t be hurt from kids going through puberty. We need to understand that they don’t understand themselves either and this phase is so difficult for them as well. Their brain changes and their emotions change and their body and so many changes. It is so hard. There is a book to understand what they are going through called BRAINSTORM, it might give you some ideas. In my opinion this is time to hug and nurture rather than to show how has more power.”

” She is testing and pushing but Mom and Dad are stronger and wiser and they can stand firm and push straight back. This is the time to establish what you will accept and what you won’t. Picking the proverbial battles. Hormones are not her free ticket for rudeness or just any behavior. Wait till you all calm and have a chat. She doesn’t get to call Dad an idiot or any other name. Or you.”

” I have an almost 12 year-old girl who experiences these angry outbursts at times. As difficult as it is, I ride the wave and allow her to express her anger which at most times is not pleasant to be at the receiving end of. It eventually ends up in me holding her while she melts into tears. I feel that it’s important to allow her the space to vent. It’s my job though over time to coach her in her ways that she vents her anger. I usually use the time after a good cry to point this out to her. Rudeness, and disrespect is definitely not acceptable and this is usually the first to be pointed out. I do however acknowledge her feelings and we “sit” with it and recognize where it’s coming from. Our kids have alot to deal with and I believe that we can’t fight fire with fire. Don’t get me wrong sometimes my approach is not always measured and calm, but I will not react this way when she’s having a meltdown. That’s my time to hold it together for both of us.”

” My daughter is 12 and I’ve had a year of exactly this. It’s definitely puberty and she literally doesn’t have the tools yet to control her raging emotions and who better to lash at but the people closest to her. I’ve learnt that to engage whilst the flame is hot is never going to work, so simply say… “Right now I know you’re frustrated and that you don’t mean what you’re saying. When you feel a bit calmer you are welcome to come chat to me.” This strategy is working and when she comes round I calmly explain that despite how she is feeling, saying nasty things and disrespecting your Mom / Dad is not acceptable and that I’m not the enemy and am here to help! Try not take it personally… we all get through this very trying stage.”

” This sounds like pretty regular teenage behavior to me. Not to say it should go unpunished – but it definitely shouldn’t be taken personally. Teenagers tend to fluctuate between having childish defiant outbursts and actually being quite grown up and pleasant. I find, with my kids, that it’s better not to tackle these things in the heat of the moment. Wait until she’s in a good space and then talk to her about her behavior and it’s impact and the damage it causes. Please don’t get angry, or punish her by, for example, taking her door off her hinges, so she can’t slam it, at this point that kind of reaction would destroy any goodwill and trust that needs to be developed as she gets older. It will actually lead to secrecy rather than openness.”

” I have step sons, not daughters but we’ve experienced the fluctuation rather significantly. The elder one had screams of hysteria and ran to his room, the younger one argues his point las if he thinks he can negotiate anything so that the end result will go his way. I’m pretty strict in my house, which caused the older one to not come to us for a year. But he’s now nearly 16 and he has more sweet moments and less out bursts. We saw a child psychologist just for our own sanity, and her advice was to be firm in not allowing disrespect, but to let the outbursts slide. Think there is a fine line to be navigated there.”

” Sounds like puberty. And also sounds as if she might be being bullied, or could have some other scary and perhaps shameful experience going on, somewhere out of home?  Could be wrong, but I think it’s time to check her phone and iPad and the conversations she is having. ”

I have an 11 year-old son. We were having the same issues. One day he and I lay on the bed, and as I was cuddling him, I explained to him what was happening to him..  puberty! I explained that not only is there body changes but his brain is changing from a young child to an adult. I explained how this happened. That the one part of his brain is still very much a child and the other is starting to become an adult. So, he may be angry for no reason, upset or have feelings he can’t contain. He was so relieved that it was all normal and there was an explanation. I said it doesn’t mean he can be rude etc to us but we do understand and are here to support him. It helped enormously! Sometimes I think they are scared of all the changes going on in their bodies and it just needs some clarity from Mom.”

” Please continue to explore the possibility that something might have happened in her peer group that has made her angry. She won’t necessarily tell you if you ask and you will need to probe a bit. Just keep all options open to why she is so angry.”

” As a single mom who went through this multiple times I couldn’t agree more with comments of love kindness and discussion HOWEVER, removing the bedroom door, and removing the luxurious living to basic standards, worked like a charm for me – oh and yes! Then came boarding school – my girls will attest to this it was the BEST thing I ever did for my girls. My youngest is 27, and still alive despite all the discipline and fury.”

” Find her ‘currency’ (eg. cellphone, tablet, etc.) and revoke all those privileges, but give her a chance to earn them back with good behaviour.”

” Have to honest and say as a mommy to two teenagers have never had this behavior. My kids always knew the boundaries and the consequences of breaking the boundaries. Kids need boundaries and they need clear understanding of what consequences are. If we excuse this behavior as teenage hormonal then we are allowing them to behave badly to others when they are having a bad day. This will go into adult life which will be really bad for them. If I did this, as a child my mother would have given me a smack. but today we parents don’t need to smack we can talk to our kids and reason with them as long as there are clear boundaries of acceptable behavior. And that they understand what consequences are.”

” My daughter who has always been a very strong determined willful personality (great for her but not when you’re trying to raise her!) also turned into a raging b@%#&$ – for want of a better word – she has raged at us, at teachers and her poor brother gets the brunt of it. The only thing I found that worked for her was to be VERY firm. My process is this this. 1. I hold my hand up at eye level and say stop very firmly. 2. If she continues try talk then I use the word silence again. 3. I then tell her that she is entitled to her feelings but not to be rude about them. This usually gives her time to think about it and calm down. Then you can let her stew for 5 minutes and have a conversation”

I’ve had three preteen girls and while their behavior has been wildly inappropriate at moments we do not allow hormones to be an excuse. I try to help them identify how they feel so they can name their emotions rather than be held hostage by them or even worse, hold everyone else hostage. I would consider removing the door as sometimes a gesture that shocks everyone helps. And establish rules around language that is not allowed (like calling another person an idiot) and consequences for this. Talk to her about these rules when you are totally calm.”

” My son is 13 and we can clash as he is extremely strong-willed. But I would not allow him to call me an idiot or any names, I would absolutely take him to task! I get that they are going through adolescence and the hormones and changes are happening to them, but we are still the parents and as such have the last say!”

I agree with the above in terms of hormones – she’s close to getting her period (best be prepared with everything now!) Also investigate issues at school more (may not be bullying necessarily but maybe she’s battling in a particular class, for my daughter it was Maths).
And you do need to set clear cut rules from day 1, also perhaps create “You and Her” time even for 1/2 hr twice a week to show the support, guidance and straight-out love. Find out her love language, does she like cuddles and hugs, or just chatting (verbal love?) Or does she like little gifts and notes?  Find a way to show her love in a way she’ll best receive it.
The key is all of these things at the right time! Who ever said parenting teens or tweens was easy!”

” No amount of puberty justified disrespect she needs to understand that, if you allow it to continue it will only get worse. Nip it in the bud!”

” I went through puberty quite early, and have some hormone issues, that can make me quite unpleasant to be around
HOWEVER, the day my mother came home and found a raging, defiant, aggressive, obnoxious child, was the day I had been RAPED by her husband.
If she had taken my door off it’s hinges, or punished me in some other way, there’s a very good chance I would have committed suicide, or run away to a life on the streets within a few months.”

” This is a tumultuous time in the teenage years and we need to keep that in mind as the hormones start to rage. They don’t even know what’s wrong or where the anger comes from at times.
I’m in the same boat and find I need to be the bigger person and not meet her anger with anger.
Like the glitter jar concept, when our emotions are swirled up, we cannot see clearly.
The best is to give them space in the moment and when it has calmed, go in and TALK.
Let your child know how hurt it made you feel to be spoken to in that light and let her know you are there for her. Find solutions together because taking the harsh road leads nowhere but to resentment.
In this way, we are also teaching our children how to deal with conflict in a way that is not born of emotion but rather constructive resolution.”

” My mother once said to me when I was behaving badly, ‘You’re my daughter and I will always love you but you’re making it very hard for me to like you at the moment’, needless to say I’ve used that a few times myself. Tell her you love her but you don’t love her behaviour and draw some lines.”

” Also been there done that and still doing it with the youngest one! Disrespect is never acceptable, but the anger and emotional turmoil pre-puberty and during puberty is understandable, even if very difficult to handle. As a menopausal woman I felt like I was experiencing all those teenage hormones again and was impossible until I started HRT. And I am an adult who should be able to handle it better than young and immature kids. Teens don’t have the benefit of meds that control those hormones. This is a scary time for pre-teens as they don’t really get what’s happening to them and at times really can’t control their outbursts. Some personalities are stronger and more difficult than others too. Boys and girls are also different and whilst my son was really easy my girls are a different story!
That’s not to say there should not be consequences for bad or disrespectful behavior. My kids knew full well not to call us and their siblings terrible names! I do agree that during calm times there needs to be lot of chats about what’s happening to them and why they are feeling like they do and that while you get it they need to learn to try not take it out on everyone around them. I also used to end up with a tearful, emotional and usually contrite child, after an outburst and hugs and reassuring them they are still loved even if you don’t like the way they behaved went a long way to helping them realize they ARE still loved in spite of the fact that you really feel like running away from them or sending them away at times. It’s a tricky balance of love and firm discipline. I have taken away privileges like phones and laptops for a couple of days sometimes and in extreme cases have not allowed them to stay out on a planned weekend or go to a party with friends, especially if they did not apologize sincerely and calm down. I told them I would tell their friend and friend’s parents they were grounded, for not behaving well. They definitely hate you for a bit, but mine usually started behaving quite quickly, when that was threatened. I am concerned, however, that she is acting up at school. Teens tend to take out their frustrations on those closest to them, parents and siblings mostly, so perhaps there is more to it than just puberty? Perhaps meet with her teachers to see if they have picked up on any issues with difficulty in lessons or with a peer group. My youngest stressed so badly and was so emotional about maths and it made a huge difference to her happiness when she dropped it. If it’s any help I have now have lovely older teens who tell us how much they appreciate everything we have done for them and that we are the best parents. It WILL pass eventually but in the meantime hang on tight for the rollercoaster ride that comes with parenting teenagers!”

” My daughter (12) also went through this anger stage, it happened around the time that she got her first period. Her favorite line to me was “Calm Down”. Well I tell you, I know full well about hormones and going through different changes in life but in my home, there’s no excuse for being rude and badly behaved. There are consequences to that behavior and I will not accept it. She very quickly grew out of that. We can be making excuses for this behavior, they need to learn to control their anger. They sure as well won’t speak like that in school so don’t try that crap with me!”

” Seems quite early for behaviour like this but I have only boys so can’t really speak from experience in raising girls. But if this behaviour is sudden, my advice would be to check her online activity – what games has she been playing, what social media activity has she been engaging in, what has she been accessing online. And check her whatsapps to see if there is possible online bullying. ”

” This takes me back 14 years when my daughter and I clashed over everything – she was so disrespectful, angry, rude and full of @#&%. At the same time I began to attend a Co-dependents Anonymous Group, as I thought that I was, in some way to blame, as I did not have a mother as a child (she abandoned us). What I learnt at CODA is that you can never change someone, only yourself, and if YOU change, the relationship will change. I began to walk away from the outbursts and constant DRAMA ie. not throw fuel on the fire. I began to let her room be HER’S, not mine to tidy. If she said “WHATEVERRRRR” ” or her other favorite “Get OVERRR yourself”, while I was SEETHING inside, I would CALMLY say, “I will not be spoken to like that” and walk away. It was not easy, but I realized I was the adult and also that we had a very co-dependent relationship – I had not set proper boundaries for her, and to begin at age 13, well, too late. My amazing GP used to say, pointing at the photo of her daughter on her desk “I keep this here to remind me of when I liked my child, I always love her, but, at the moment I do not like her behavior. Taking their cellphone away is NOT a good idea, as they feel out of touch with their peer group and isolated, which could lead to depression. Just walk away. I used to use the excuse “well, at least she does not smoke or drink, ” but my wise friend told me “she cannot be” good by default” . I did find out that she was being bullied at school, so we moved her to Waldorf School where she underwent a transformation, not 100% but 60 %.. Now she is 27, with 3 gorgeous daughters, my precious little Princesses, She is a most incredible mother. We sometimes discuss when she was a “demon” and we laugh, and she apologises profusely. When people told me “this too shall pass” I thought, Ja, right, you don’t have to live with her!” But they were right , and we are now so, so close, I see her and her babies almost every day, and love every minute. If we have a disagreement from time to time, she can be nasty and block me on Facebook, but I ignore it and walk away , and within a short time we reconcile. Yes, sometimes I have to be the ADULT, the bigger person, but that’s OK. So, as my friends used to tell me 14 tears ago, this WILL be over, and one day you will get on so well. I did not believe them at the time, but they were right. Co-dependents Anonymous also gave me support and somewhere to speak my truth and vent, and was able to walk away from the drama, overlook the black, pink, purple hair dye on her floor, overlook the mess that was her room, and pick my battles carefully AND, let her face the consequences of her actions, like not completing homework – there were times when I would be coloring in at 3am, so she would not get into trouble at school., but I stopped all that, much to her horror and shock, but she began to take responsibility for herself. But looking at her now, I realize I did a good damn job at being a Mother.”


” I work with kids and this is what I say to them: What I find we as adults forget is how we feel when we have our periods or are PMSing. We feel like crap. We literally become the 7 dwarves of PMS. I was a hell demon that time of the month and I thank the stars my eldest has leveled out but now my almost 10 year-old is starting and I find myself looking at my gin more often.
If your parents are suddenly the stupidest people in the world, or you find yourself crying or getting angry over nothing, your head’s full of crazy thoughts and your emotions are on a rollercoaster – relax. Everything is exactly the way it’s meant to be – annoying as that is! There’s just as much happening inside your body as out, when you go through puberty. You just can’t see it in the mirror. You might sometimes even feel like you’re two different people, who want different things and who think and feel differently. And in some senses, that’s exactly what you are – a child and an adult in the same body, swinging between the two.

All those hormones rushing around your body are bound to cause a whole heap of problems. One day, you feel like an adult but get treated like a child – the next day, it’s the other way around. And some days, everything just feels hopeless and no one, absolutely no one in the whole world, understands you.
When that happens, try the following:

• Remind your family that you’re going through puberty and that’s why you’re bad-tempered/angry/sad/weird. Then they can show a little more consideration.
• Remind yourself that you’re going through puberty and that’s why you’re not behaving as you normally do. Then you won’t think you’ve gone mad.
• Shut yourself in your room, put on your favourite music, and stare at the ceiling. Continue until you get bored.
• Of course you’re entitled to behave strangely during puberty – it’s your hormones’ fault. But you can still try to bear in mind that it’s your hormones that are stupid, not your parents or siblings (usually, at least.) And of course it doesn’t help to know that millions of teenagers worldwide are going through puberty and feel exactly the same as you do. Or that it will pass. But it’s true.

Having said the above. There is a difference between hormonal outbursts and just being a plain shit. I had the same with being called “Worst Mom”… You just have to firmly sit her down and ask her what the heck. Maybe try asking if she feels overwhelmed and overly emotional for no reason.”

” Don’t take it personally please, my mother did and fought bitterly with me for many years. It’s kinda normal teenage behaviour. I don’t mean condone it but try not to take it too much to heart. She is finding herself, going through an even harder stage than toddlerhood in terms of development and changes to the brain. Just keep loving her despite the monster she may become.”

” I’m learning more and more each day that there are battles you can chose to fight and battles you just let be. You will start to learn as well when you can and can’t say anything. It’s often so frustrating you wonder what the hell you are doing wrong but as you will see from this group…. it’s just a part of their growing up and we need to realise it’s not us! I often just walk away and leave my son alone and when he is ready, he will either apologise or come and tell me what’s up. Soooo hard but this too shall pass.”

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