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Almost summer mood swing?

Dear Obsessive Mother’s Guide to Parenting,

Every year about this time my oldest starts up with the attitude and the behavior problems.  She snaps at everything we say to her and treats her little brothers very poorly.  She’s finishing up the 6th grade, going into the 7th.  Is this pre-PMS?  Do you think we need to test if she is bi-polar or dealing with depression?  I’ve come to dread the month of May.  My husband calls it the “Moody Month of May” and works late every evening to avoid the stressed out household.  I need some guidance.

Sincerely,

Brenda, in The Woodlands

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Dear Brenda,

First, if you have even the tiniest of hints that it may be a serious psychological issue, talk to your family doctor.  If the doctor dismisses it without investigating and talking with your daughter, find another doctor who will listen.

Second, schedule special family times.  Check out our monthly events page and take your whole family to something fun.  The Cypress Creek FACE productions have all been very family friendly and quite a fun experience for my own crew.  Take a picnic to the park and bring frisbees.  You HAVE to invest in some positive family time to preserve the relationship between father and daughter, and father and family.  Allow him some peace and quiet when he comes home as that is one of the 5 needs of men, but then try to get him involved with a family board game or puzzle on the kitchen table.  You have a symptom going on their with his avoidance that could be a bigger problem if not stopped asap.  Understand you can only use positive manipulation on him with this, only offering for him to join in on happy family times.  No threats or making him feel guilty.  You cannot control negative manipulation.  You may intend to guilt him into changing but you may end up only driving him further away.  His positive presence in your family may help your daughter’s mood improve all by itself.

Last, get into the shoes of your child.  How much can she control?  How much does she have no control over?  One of the most helpless feelings is when we cannot stop the bad times from coming.  With her mood heating up this time of year, I would guess she is dreading a long summer without the stimulation and friendship she is so used to at school.  The best way to recover from feeling helpless is to take charge of a problem herself.  Sit down with her and make plans for the summer.  What would she like to do?  Who would she like to see?  What summer camps interest her?  Go through our camp directory with her.  One of the best ways to get out of our own head of problems is to invest time helping others with theirs.  Look for volunteer opportunities: visiting nursing homes, helping out at animal shelters…  And finally, just ask her.  Let her talk about her problems.  Take her out on a one-on-one mom date and over a nice dinner ask her, “Honey, it seems like you haven’t been very happy lately.  Is something bothering you?  Is there something you’d like to talk about?  We can solve any problem together.”

Keep us posted on her progress and yours.  You are doing the right thing to notice this behavior in her and your husband and try to fix it.  We applaude your obsessive parenting.  Stay strong and don’t give up on them.

Sincerely,

The Obesessive Mother’s Guide to Parenting

If you have a question you’d like answered, send it to obsessivemothersguide@gmail.com and look for your answer in upcoming columns.

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And here is the advice from other Kidnnected Readers:

“I can relate, our sixth grade daughter has been full o…f sass lately. I tell myself it’s pre-pms. I did figure out she was staying up late at night on her iPod or phone. So we took all devices and had her go to bed an hour earlier. We’ve already seen improvement. Plus, end of the year projects, Staar testing, and school over all has her tired. She’s ready for summer. However, if your instinct tells you she may be depressed or showing signs of being bipolar, talk to her physician.”

“I can’t give experience advice but if its only during may I would say its probably stress. With summer being so close and the stress of final tests, staar tests, and then worry if they passed this grade, etc they get very stressed and don’t know how to express that yet.”

” I tend to think it would all boil down to “end-of-year-itis”. With all these darn tests and the stress of moving on to a new school/grade some kids just don’t handle stress the way you might expect. I dare say there may also be some extreme hormonal changes also going along with school stresses which only exemplify her mood swings. Make some special time for her to be alone and have stress-relief time. Whether its taking a warm bubble bath, reading a book or just being in her room with peace and quiet, she may need some “me” time to process the days events.”

“It’s just not girls that do that. I have boys and my oldest seems to be like that at this time of year also. They are just stressed Starr test, exams, etc. it all gets to them. We are there so we are the ones that get hit with it. Plus it’s the age thing— they are pressing their limits of independents. Don’t feel alone— many of us are in the same boat. Plus we as moms are stressed dealing with end of the year things and summer coming.”

“I would suggest having a sit down and speaking with the daughter to see what is going on and explain how her moods affect the household. I would be completely honest and explain how dad works longer hours to avoid the stress at home, her brothers feel they are treated poorly etc. she may be caught up in her own world of angst that she does not realize how she is treating everyone else. I would also encourage the daughter to find something that she likes and makes her happy and try to re-direct her focus on whatever is on her mind.

Perhaps mom could ask her if there is anything she could do to help, or get her involved in an activity in the home. I know for myself, if my mind is occupied, I won’t have time to focus on the things that bother me. If all else fails, seek medical help as it could be depression, or an issue that should by a medical professional.”