I asked her to clean the bathroom like I had a hundred times before. But this time she screamed, “Why do I have to clean the bathroom? I hate having to clean the bathroom when I have so many disgusting brothers!”
She does indeed have so many brothers — five of them to be exact. But in that moment she also had so many emotions. Her emotions were surprising and confusing for us both.
Now that my daughter is a teen, I see some things I did well to handle her tween emotions and some things I wish I had done differently. Here is how we can handle our tween daughter’s emotions.
#1 Prepare your daughter for puberty early
My only experience with puberty was with boys who all started at 14. I was shocked to see the physical evidence of puberty in my daughter much, much earlier. My daughter’s friend started menstruating at age 9. Today’s girls begin changing before we have taken the time to educate them about the physical and emotional changes they can expect. In my case, that was because I wasn’t willing to believe that my little girl wouldn’t be a little girl much longer.
I love the book How You are Changing by Jane Graver as a good way to start the discussion about puberty with your daughter. A couple of things I add for all my tweens is:
- Sex is beautiful when sex is private and within the context of marriage
- Only parents should teach their kids about sex. You are not permitted to teach your friends or younger siblings.
- If you have questions about sex, you can always ask us without embarrassment. You can’t be sure of getting accurate information from friends or the Internet.
Be sure to discuss shaving, use of tampons or pads, and how to manage breakouts. The more prepared your daughter feels, the less frightened she will be.
#2 Explain the emotional fluctuations that are part of puberty
Often we are more concerned with our daughters starting their periods than we are with talking about the emotions that can accompany it. That reluctance may be because of our own lack of understanding. As a mother who has experienced the complicated emotions of perimenopause, I know to tell my daughter what to expect.
We have to be specific: a young woman’s hormonal changes can make her feel angry, weepy, or giddy, seemingly for no reason. Psychological research has shown us that people often try to explain the physical experience of emotion, but make incorrect assumptions in doing so.
When I was a teen I had a CT-scan done to determine the cause of frequent headaches. While I was in the machine, I had trouble breathing. Even though I didn’t feel nervous, I interpreted my trouble breathing as a sign of anxiety. So I tried to relax. Turns out I was having a severe allergic reaction to the contrast dye.
Explain to your daughter that feelings of anger or sadness do not necessarily mean that anything is seriously wrong. Our emotions can fool us when our hormones are changing at various stages of life. Explain that puberty is one season of change, while pregnancy and menopause are other seasons that can leave us feeling more emotional.
#3 Give your daughter tips for managing the emotions of puberty
The first and most critical thing for your daughter to do to manage her emotions is to get enough rest. Explain that like a newborn baby needs lots of sleep because of all the growing she does, so your daughter needs extra sleep as her body does the big job of growing into womanhood. Many tweens resist going to bed early because of their desire for more independence. If you homeschool as I do, consider allowing your tween daughter to rise later in the morning to make sure she is getting enough sleep.
The second thing I would have your daughter do is record her emotions. There are apps like this Period Tracker for this purpose, but any calendar will do. It’s a huge help to know that your life isn’t miserable; it’s just that you’re premenstrual. This can be helpful even for tween girls who haven’t started their periods. I recommend recording the amount of sleep your daughter gets and other significant events to see if there’s a relationship with the emotions she experiences.
The third thing your daughter can do is learn positive ways of handling negative emotions. Share the strategies that work for you — exercise, chatting with a friend, playing music, doing crafts, journaling, quiet time alone, magnesium and a multivitamin, or chocolate! You should also discuss things that don’t make you feel better: food binges, hours playing online games, ranting on social media, or Netflix binges. Encourage her to experiment with various approaches to see what works best for her.
Fourth, encourage your daughter that she is a part of a sisterhood of women who understand what it’s like. Encourage your daughter to tell you when she is having one of those days. Tell her you’ll agree to give her more latitude on these days, but that you will still require her to treat you and others with respect. My daughter and I ended up laughing about the “disgusting brothers” fit she had. She knew her hormones were involved.
Finally, pray with your daughter regularly. Ask God to give you both the ability to honor Him and others despite the hormonal highs and lows. Encourage her in the knowledge that God will be faithful to work all things together for good — even the emotions she has at this stage of her life.
This was Day 11 of 30 Days of the Tween Parenting Encouragement Blog Party!
Wow! Dr Melanie Wilson did an incredible job showing us how we can handle our Tween daughters emotions! I greatly appreciate the practical advice as well as the heart reminders. Fantastic post! I thought, how about you?
If you’re like me and want to learn more from Dr Melanie Wilson of psychowith6.com then you’re in luck! Here’s a little more about her and where you can find her below.
When she’s not teaching her children or friends’ children in her homeschool co-op, she loves to encourage homeschoolers, mothers, and Christian women with her writing, podcast, and live video.
She also has a wonderful episode to share for parents of boys and girls about Homeschooling through the Hormones that will encourage you and remind you aren’t alone in this!
Stop over to check out her resources and get the practical, encouraging help you need!
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