Posted: Jul 18, 2013 9:00 AM
 
You thought that the days of dealing with tantrums were left in the toddler years, but when your tween begins to have a meltdown, go ahead and pick your jaw off of the floor — it's actually normal! From how to help your kiddo deal with stress to learning to laying out the ground rules, find out how to deal with tween tantrums.

"As school-aged kids enter into tween, their brain is going through some changes as well," explains Dr. Sunny Im-Wang, author of Happy, Sad, & Everything in Between. "During this time, amygdala — the area of the brain linked to emotional reaction and decisions — is more active, leading to impulsive decision making and reactions. That's why reasoning that seemed to have worked before for your child does not work during his or her tween years. In turn, your tween seems more reactive to confrontation which leads to outbursts." Here are a few things that can help you and your tween get through these emotional times:

Arm tweens with coping tools

The best way to head a tween tantrum off at the pass is to stop them before they occur. Coach your tween to regulate emotions by learning how to keep things in perspective and engage in stress-relieving activities such as going for a walk or doing breathing exercises.

Recognize the signs of a tween tantrum

Parents who minimize their offspring's feelings shut the door to future problem-solving sessions.

"Unfortunately, anxious adolescents turn into anxious adults," informs Dr. Russell Hyken, psychotherapist and author of The Parent Playbook. "To assist anxious tweens, encourage conversations when you notice your kids are anxious. It can be difficult to avoid strong reactions, but parents should respond with empathy and focus on the emotional content of the conversation. Parents who minimize their offspring's feelings shut the door to future problem-solving sessions."

Give your tween time alone

Just like adults, tweens need to diffuse after they've boiled over — so back off. Simply let your tween know that you are going to give him a moment alone to compose himself and then walk out of the room.

Lay out the consequences

Reaching "tweenhood" should be viewed as a time for both parent and tween to re-evaluate the rules — just like going through your closet and throwing out clothes that don't fit or are too young looking.

When your tween is in a good mood and open for a chat, engage your child in a discussion about the consequences for unacceptable behavior, including excessive tween tantrums. But, "before establishing age-appropriate consequences as well as incentives for managing emotional outbursts, parents should make sure the rules that they have set for their tween, which are likely the triggers for the outburst, are age appropriate," advises Dr. Phyllis Ohr, Official Child Psychologist for Press4Kids. "Reaching 'tweenhood' should be viewed as a time for both parent and tween to re-evaluate the rules — just like going through your closet and throwing out clothes that don't fit or are too young looking."

When learning how to deal with tween tantrums, the most important thing to remember is that it takes two to tango. So even though your tween's outburst can leave you seeing red, the best way to deal with tantrums is to remember that every topic doesn't have to be open for debate, but let your tween know that you'll be happy to discuss the issue of contention in a mature manner once your tween's storm of emotions has calmed to a dull roar.

Read more tips on tweens

Signs of depression in children and tweens
Protecting tweens from online bullying
5 Tips for traveling with tweens

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