Just when you think you've got the tween thing down—she's picking up her room and makes pleasant conversation at dinner—you're hit with a mood that makes your head spin. What gives? “Kids this age are more influenced by what's going on outside the family and may worry about what others think. This leads to a short fuse with Mom and Dad,” says John Duby, M.D., chair of the AAP's Mental Health Leadership Work Group. Teaching her to (calmly!) express herself can help her become more emotionally resilient. For more help, check out the AAP's “Sound Advice” video clips at healthychildren.org.
The Mood: Anger
What's Behind It: By asking about her math test or that shorts-over-jeggings “outfit” she has on, you may have tapped into some anxiety about school or her new look.
The Fix: Avoid heat-of-the-moment exchanges. Instead, set aside daily chat time—she'll be more likely to open up when she's concerned about something.
The Mood: Rudeness
She's grumpy, brusque
What's Behind It: She may be trying to get your attention or could be using a phrase she's heard (and you were simply the nearest target). Either way, there's no call for sass.
The Fix: Don't accept rude talk—but clean up your own act, too. (Do you shove to the front of the checkout line?) “Kids often mimic their parents,” notes Dr. Duby.
The Mood: Sadness
Moping, in a funk
What's Behind It: Physical changes (acne!) can wreak havoc on your tween's mood. Another common culprit: social slights—like not being invited to a sleepover party.
The Fix: Distraction can help—see a movie, take a walk. The key to preventing sadness at this age is to have more downtime together and to be available to listen.