Hormones and your moody tween

Cara Natterson, MD explains how moodiness in tweens can largely be attributed to a quick rise in hormone levels, which can begin as early as eight or nine years old
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Hormones and your moody tween

Your tween is moody because of hormones. It's very simple. It's chemical. When babies are born they have these tiny, teeny amounts of hormones in their body; a little bit or estrogen and a little bit of testosterone, and that's normal. But starting around age eight or nine, those level really rise quickly. Parents always say to me, "that's impossible. My 8 1/2 year old doesn't have estrogen." Yes, she does. Take note when she comes home from school. Are her armpits just a little bit stinky? Or when your son comes home at the end of the day and he takes his shoes off, do you have to clear the room because it smells so bad? That's hormones. What's happened is the estrogen and the testosterone, which are going to help their bodies change as they get into puberty, those hormones early on make the kids sweat, and sweat is a really nice breeding ground for bacteria and bacteria smell. So hormones in the body cause puberty and at eight or nine, you're in early puberty already. Well, those hormones in the brain cause moodiness. And estrogen and testosterone work really differently in the brain. So girls with estrogen are moody. They are going on and off like a light switch. Sometimes they're really happy. Sometimes they're really sad. Sometimes their snippy or snarky. You can say the wrong thing at the dinner table and your daughter will jump all over you. That's estrogen. Testosterone is really different. Testosterone takes boys to the quiet angry place. They get a little bit dark, or moody, or aggressive, but they don't tend to swing the same way that girls do. And some of this is socialized. Girls are expected to show their emotions and boys are not expected to show their emotions. But most of it is pure brain chemistry.

Cara Natterson, MD explains how moodiness in tweens can largely be attributed to a quick rise in hormone levels, which can begin as early as eight or nine years old


Expert Bio

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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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