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Getting Through to a Moody Tween

Does it seem as if your scowling, sulking tween is in a perpetual bad mood? Between kids' hormonal zigzags and their desire to get out from under your wing, it's no wonder they can be grouchy.

That said, there's always a chance that your child has something weighing on her beyond the usual angst. Ways to find out, from Linda Sonna, Ph.D., author of The Everything Tween Book:

Don't demand that she be cheerful if she's not. She may hide a problem from you if she thinks you want her to mask her feelings under a smile.

Give her some space. When she storms into her room sobbing and slams the door behind her, it means something serious (at least to her) is the matter  -- but she's in no state to have a conversation. Give her some time to cool down, then approach her when she comes out.

Beat around the bush. Don't be obvious ("What's wrong?"). She may not be able to explain, especially if she's grappling with a tough issue. Instead, venture a few guesses: "If someone has hurt me, or I've made a mistake, I often need some time to myself. Does that ever happen to you?" You may hit a nerve and get your child to start gabbing.