Monday, January 14, 2013

Life with a Young Tween

Yes, it's still raining here.  Thankfully, although the river is backing up into the neighborhood and drainage ditches, it looks like the house will be safe this time around.  Our thoughts are with all of our neighbors in surrounding parishes suffering terrible flooding, and now dealing with the water and near freezing temperatures.  Winter flooding feels so strange.

Lightning is tired of all the rain, too, but he likes watching it fall.

My big girl turned nine last year.  While we shouldn't have to worry about some of the major changes of puberty for quite some time, I have noticed some changes over the last few months.  Particularly with mood swings and anger.

We're no stranger to mood swings around here.  I remember what it was like to feel out of control and swept away by hormones, and I remember being an angry child a lot of the time.  Also, she suffered a lot of stress from sensory issues and early years in public school, where she felt bombarded by the sights and sounds and people simply brushing up against her.  We've seen great improvement the last couple of years as she has outgrown some of the severity of these sensitivities, but also as she has been home and learning how to cope with them.  Her anxiety and anger have decreased, and some days I can't even remember how much we all struggled through those days.

But just when we were getting used to this more relaxed, carefree Ella, growth and change have once again backed us into a corner.  Once again, we're dealing with the mood swings and anger.

Like I said, I understand what she feels and where this is coming from.  Yet I still feel like I'm failing her.  I don't know how to help her when she burns like that, and everything I do seems to fuel her more.  I have gotten much better over the years at remaining calm, but completely ignoring her angers her more (ahem, she might have gotten that from me . . . ).  I feel like all I can really do is wait her out.  Get some distance between all of us, breathe, and sit by her side when I can see her wearing down.  She's such a fighter (ahem . . .), the rage runs its course and she wants to give up & apologize, but she can't bring herself to admit it.  She can't quite transition out of those tantrums on her own.  I have to catch the tiniest sign that she's ready, then sit with her in a quiet room.  Only then can I discover what she's really upset about.  Yesterday, she was angry about something she wanted to do but never told us she wanted to do it.  In fact, Ken and I had already discussed doing this same thing with them, but we never got the chance, because she came in the room throwing a fit.

She gets enough sleep.  I probably need to limit screen time again, because this happens more often after she's played the computer for an extended period of time, but she spends most of the day screen-free.  She isn't overscheduled; in fact, she might need more time outside the house or with friends as she gets older.  She eats a healthy diet, although this has also been a point of contention with her demanding she doesn't want to eat or insisting she doesn't want to eat at certain times.  We have boundaries, but I'm not a tyrant about them.  I strive always to be flexible.

Today was better.  I recognized that she seemed stressed, for whatever reasons I can't see yet, so they played in their pajamas all morning and did work this afternoon.  We have agreed to start having family meetings on Friday nights again, so everyone can know what's in store for the weekend and voice any problems they might have.  Fingers crossed.

I don't have a magical solution.  I have trial and error.  I have love.  I have patience (not much, but hopefully enough).  If you have any suggestions for books, ideas, or websites, I always welcome more tools.




13 comments:

  1. trial and error and love and some patience gets you most places you need to go. :) no great advice here, but sending you love & good thoughts!

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    1. Thank you. It's easy to feel so helpless. I think self-care is probably one of the best tools, so we can maintain that patience.

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  2. Sorry, dude. I got nothin'. Girl hormones are such an ordeal, no matter which end of the spectrum you're on.

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  3. Wait--TWEEN? Wow, I have been gone a long time!

    There is something about age 9. My daughter and my son both went through it, though in different ways. Basically, she got mad and he got sad.

    We also made the connection between mood and screen time. But some of it is going to happen no matter what--it's just part of developing.

    If it makes you feel any better, I was terrified when my daughter was 9. She was irritable with everyone, angry at me all the time, and suddenly introverted. It was a rough year. Ten was better, eleven and twelve were great, and she's the mellowest 13 you've ever met. I know we're not out of the woods yet, but don't assume that a tough 9 means the following years are bad, too.

    All you can do is love her and be there for her. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you so much. I keep thinking it will only get worse, because I think it was hardest for me around 12 or so. Thanks for the hope!

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  4. We are in Baton Rouge and we are getting pretty tired of the rain as well!!! Although, these are the days we are so thankful to homeschool!!!! My oldest is 12 and has many of the same issues that you are talking about. She suffered alot of anxiety in school and while we have been homeschooling for 3 years now, she still has alot of the same problems...coupled with puberty and it is CRAZY sometimes!!!!! The only books that have seemed to hit the nail for me have been The Difficult Child and Shepherding a Childs Heart. I also love all of Sally Clarkson's books as she has a way of putting it all in perspective!! The days are long but the years or short!! I hope things begin to smooth out for yall over there...just love her where she is and know this too shall pass!!! And stay dry over there!!!

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    1. Oh, this rain is the worst, isn't it? I'll look up those books, thanks!

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  5. Trust me, we get it here too, with my 10-year-old son. Oh my gosh, the whole pre-teen thing is insane! I'm just doing my best and muddling through this developmentally normal, but frustrating (!), time.

    You really hit the nail on the head with "trial and error".

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    1. I feel like the past nine years have been nothing but trial and error! We're all muddling through together! :)

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  6. UGH! You have filled me with trepidation for my girl's upcoming 9 year old birthday!! Maybe you could check out Parenting Passageway for information on the 9 year change. While we don't homeschooling from a Waldorf philosophy, I do find having their information in my head helpful at times. http://theparentingpassageway.com/?s=nine+year+change&submit=Search

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    1. Thank you for the reminder! I love parenting passageway, and I thought we were through some of the 9 yr change stuff . . . but I guess not. I definitely need to read more on that. In fact, I think I had a book suggested on the 9 yr change, and I don't remember the name. I'll bet it's on Carrie's site somewhere. Thanks, Rowan! Don't be too afraid . . . 9 comes with a lot of great changes, too!

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    Chris

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