The teen years can transform your calm, easygoing daughter into an emotional mess! One minute she’s excited about tomorrow and the next she’s stressed and insecure. She’s lively and cheerful with her own friends, yet quiet and standoffish with yours. She’s eager to fill her schedule with new activities in the morning, but closes herself in her room by dinner. Her energy and attitude can change without warning.
It’s hard to know how to respond to our daughters’ mood swings. Here are seven do’s and don’ts as we ride the roller coaster of our daughters’ emotions.
DO: See the big picture. Our girls are in the process of growing to maturity—they don’t have it all figured out yet. In time they’ll be less reactive to little things. They’ll understand the cause and effect of their choices. They’ll become less self-focused, realizing they’re not the center of the world. Have patience and trust that the sensitive, unpredictable girl in front of you is on her way to growing up.
DON’T: Belittle her feelings. Even when she seems irrational, her distress is real. Criticism, shame, or teasing will only deepen her struggle. By giving her room to feel angry, anxious, or just ‘down’, she’ll learn it’s okay to be authentic. She’ll avoid the pitfall of putting on a fake smile to please other people.
DO: Stay steady in the storm. Her strong feelings don’t have to stir up anxiety or anger in you. Let go of any guilt or pressure to “fix it.” Avoid the traps of self-blame and depending on her happiness for your own.
DON’T: Relax your house rules. When emotions run high, she doesn’t get a free pass to slam doors, smack her brother, or disrespect you. Skipping school or homework on a bad day will only compound her stress. Keep her present for family activities and church attendance. Stand firm in your expectations so her feelings don’t rule her life.
DO: Show compassion. Look for ways to give comfort and reassurance. Bring back the habit of tucking her in at night with prayer and a hug. Build one-on-one time in your schedule to have fun and take a break from the stress. Post uplifting Bible verses on her bathroom mirror. Fill a bubble bath or invite her for a walk after a rough day. Speak words of kindness, affirmation, and hope into her life.
DON’T: Ignore her physical well-being. Fatigue and poor nutrition make it hard for any of us to cope. Hormonal fluctuations through the month impact her energy and outlook. Build in time for sleeping in, home-cooked meals, and enjoying the outdoors. Stay current on checkups with her doctor. A healthy body will support healthy emotions too.
DO: Pursue help if she shows signs of self-destructive or risky behavior. Find out if she’s suffering from bullying or traumatic events. Take concerns about depression, alcohol or drug abuse, or eating disorders to professionals who can provide the care she needs.
Take heart in knowing God cares for your daughter with grace and love. Cover her in prayer each day, trusting him to see her through.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living. (Psalm 116:7-9)