I have an 11-year-old granddaughter whose emotions are all over the place. Recently, she came home from school in an especially angry mood. I could tell something had happened, but when I asked her about it, she yelled that it was none of my business and slammed the door in my face.
Why is my granddaughter moody? What should I do? Should I give her space? I never know how to respond to her in situations like this.
Dear Concerned Grams,
First, I want to give you some good news: “bad” behavior at home means a child feels certain they’re loved no matter what.
Your granddaughter knows she can let her hair down and be difficult in front of you because you’ve created a safe place for her to fall apart. If she were to exhibit mood swings in children, this kind of behavior at school would be a symptom of a much bigger problem.
But Concerned Grams, I know this assurance doesn’t fix the problem you’re having.
What you and your granddaughter are experiencing is a classic communication breakdown. Neither of you has the necessary tools to reach the other, so you’re caught in a rut of ill-expressed feelings, hurt, and reasons a child has mood swings unmet needs.
Here’s the thing to keep in mind: children don’t have the sophisticated vocabulary or the maturity to identify their unmet needs. So 99% of the time, a child’s default reaction to emotional discomfort is to fall apart crying, screaming, kicking—or all three!
As the adults in the room, it’s our job to teach kids to self-regulate their emotions and effectively express what they need. Here’s what I recommend:
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A 3xTEDx speaker, media contributor, parenting coach, and a mom of two - helping families thrive by using the Guidance Approach to Parenting.