Once preadolescence hits, you may wonder where your sunny and pleasant child went. Suddenly, negativity and anger seem to rule the day, seizing your kid's attitude and mood with little warning. Although a moody preteen may challenge your parenting skills, with effort and tenacity, you can keep things more positive with your youngster.
Demonstrating negative and surly behavior is a normal rite of passage, especially as kids move into preadolescence, advises the Waterloo Catholic District School Board in a "Youth Parenting Tip" publication. You may notice your child taking things too seriously, overreacting or acting more negatively than normal once moodiness sets in. Your youngster may also become overly sensitive and frustrated with situations that never bothered her before. Suddenly, her little brother can't come near her without shrieks and fits of emotion erupting, for example.
Reasons for Moodiness
A child's life can feel overwhelming, especially in combination with the onset of puberty and increased responsibilities and demands that often come with school. Brain development even plays a part in increasing moodiness, states the University of Alabama's Parenting Assistance Line. The frontal lobe controls impulses, judgment and decision-making, but because this region doesn't mature until past the teen years, pre-adolescents and adolescents can have trouble maintaining composure.
Your response to your moody child can have a positive impact. Don't take snarkiness personally when your youngster throws barbs at you or melts down with little provocation, suggests the Scholastic website. Instead, stay cool and ask nonthreatening questions to find out what's bothering your child. You might say, "Ouch, you got me with that one! What's up? Can I help?" Don't give moodiness too much attention or you risk reinforcing the behavior with your attention, cautions social worker James Lehman, with the Empowering Parents website.
Causes for Concern
Pay attention to moody behaviors to ensure that your child isn't showing signs of more serious problems, cautions WebMD. Kids may battle depression or could struggle with behavioral disorders that create symptoms resembling moodiness. Symptoms of behavior disorders include consistent hostility, reduced school performance, lying, stealing, property damage and temper tantrums, according to Medline Plus. Consult a professional if your child shows these symptoms.