Helping tweens self-regulate when they feel moody

Learn about: Helping tweens self-regulate when they feel moody from Cara Natterson, MD,...
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Helping tweens self-regulate when they feel moody

Most parents are looking to avoid anger or moodiness in their kids and these are unavoidable emotions. Every child is going to feel sad or snarky or angry or aggressive a 100% of the time. During puberty kids go through this. So what I want parents to do is to anticipate it and to build in strategies to help their kids. Most of the time what kids need is acknowledgment – so they need to know what’s normal and okay and then they need an outlet – they need to do something. Usually, that means a timeout. It means excusing your child from a situation when things are starting to escalate. And one of the most common scenarios is you’re somewhere important where your parents care how you’re behaving. You’re at a family event, or you’re at something where the stakes are high. If you see that your child is starting to swing a little bit emotionally, excuse them. Give them the out. Let them know they can leave for a couple of minutes and go blow off their steam and come back. It’s like hitting reset. If you’re at family dinner, and your child starts to snap at their sibling, let them walk away for a couple of minutes. And parents find this surprising advice, but the reality is if you don’t allow it, then there’s often an emotional spiral down and things don’t get better on their own. So give your child the out. When you’re home and there’s free time, let that out be aerobic. Let them go run, or bang on a pillow, or hit something, or jump up or do something to get their energy and aggression out, especially boys. But if it’s out in public, at least give your child the gift of time. Just give them a two-minute break and let them collect themselves and come back and act as if they just pressed restart and they can go again from the beginning.

Learn about: Helping tweens self-regulate when they feel moody from Cara Natterson, MD,...


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Cara Natterson, MD

Pediatrician & Author

Cara Natterson, MD has treated thousands of children and guided their parents as well. She was a partner at Tenth Street Pediatrics in Santa Monica, California, a large group practice serving infants, children and teenagers. She now runs Worry Proof Consulting, the first of its kind pediatric practice that offers parents open-ended time to review everything from medical questions and biology basics to child development and parenting issues. Cara is also the author of several books on parenting and child health. She has a unique ability to translate cutting edge research into understandable terms for parents and their kids. More recently, Cara’s consulting has extended beyond individual families to include fortune 500 companies seeking expert advice on safety issues, child health, and crisis management.

Cara has appeared on television, in print, and on the web. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and she trained in pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco. Cara is a Board certified pediatrician and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. And anyone who knows her knows that Cara is, by nature, one of the most risk-averse people on earth. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

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