She storms off to her room and slams the door.
My face is hot, I am sweating and steam is actually coming out of my ears, I’m sure of it, just like in the cartoons!
How dare she!
How dare she be upset and storm off!
I am the one who should be upset, I am the one who copped the thoughtless behaviour.
And I didn’t even yell at her! I tried to stay calm, to explain, to discuss, but she got upset, she stormed off.
How dare she be angry at me!
I stomp around the kitchen making dinner, letting the anger and frustration come clanking out of me with each crash of the pots and pans. I’m trying to figure out what I can do, what I can say that will make her understand how wrong she was!
Parenting a tween is hard.
These situations have changed. Gone are the days when these outbursts ended with a crying kid that just needed a stern reminder of the consequences of her actions, and a hug to remind her that I loved her, no matter what.
Now they end with slammed doors, and a broody, sullen, tween who sulks around for hours, and I’m left wondering how on earth I should manage this?
Where do these venomous outbursts come from?
Why does she take everything out of me?
Why is there continued carry on hours after the event?
Why has it suddenly become so hard?
And then it hits me…
When she was little she lived in the moment, she struggled to see things from another persons perspective, she just reacted and figured out the rest afterwards.
Now she is older she knows the moment she has made a bad choice, even if she can’t back down, or make it right. She knows, or can at least imagine, the consequences of her actions, how what she says and does affects others and herself… and that is hard to accept.
She stormed off upset, not at me, but at herself.
And the sullen sulky aftermath?
That is the swirling thoughts in her mind. Yes she hates me for calling her out, but she is also thankful for it, for someone putting into words what she already knows.
Now she is mad at herself for being ‘so stupid’, for ‘not thinking’, for not being able to control her words or her actions. She’s trying to manage the guilt, anger and frustration and figure out what that means about who she is…
And then another thing hits me.
There doesn’t need to be consequences or discipline or judgement dished out by me.
She already knows the consequences of her actions and she feels bad, way worse than any ‘punishment’ that I could come up with. I don’t need to heap more guilt on top of that, she is learning from her mistakes.
I just need to remind her that those feelings are there to teach her, to help her remember to make a better choice next time.
But no matter how old she gets, she still needs a hug, a reminder that she is a good person and that I love her… no matter how many bad choices she makes.
Are you parenting a tween?
What things are you and your child struggling with right now?