Raising your daughter

Sugar and spice and all things nice... or moods and malice and meanness? What is your daughter made of? How can you support, guide and enjoy her?

How should I cope with my teenager's bad moods?

Written by Bethany Kelly on 12/04/2011

Q. When my 15 year old gets upset she is really rude to us – stomping to her room, slamming doors with never a please or a thank you. What’s the best way of responding?

A. Welcome to the roller-coaster world of teenage life! Your daughter is probably having a rather tough time of it right now. Her feelings of self-worth may be taking a hit and physically her hair and skin may be a nightmare too. Add into the mix the ‘joys’ of exam pressure and the worrying feeling that no one will ever fall madly in love with her and you have a wonderful cocktail of emotions.

This is not to excuse the bad moods you are encountering, but there are quite possibly some understandable reasons that are contributing to her reluctance to talk to you at this time. It requires steely determination not to respond in kind, but a raised voice will only escalate things further and increase the distance between you. The frustrating aspect for you will be that she is far more likely to confide in friends than come to you even though you would be a far more useful source of advice and comfort. Keep an eye on her and her friendships without prying and try to maintain a loving home for her and friends to relax in. Be as technology savvy as you can so that you can be happy about her use of smart phones and computers. The quality of her friendships is also a good indicator of what she is going through right now. She might be distancing herself from you, but check she isn’t distancing herself from everyone. The doors might be slamming at the moment, but that at least means her room in your house is a refuge for her. Home is still home.

Her perception will be that you have no way of understanding what she is going through and no matter what you say, telling her you do understand will probably not help. Give her space and let her come to you, be a constant, have the pick-me-up hot chocolate ready for when she is ready. Perhaps you might have opportunities for time when it is just the two of you and you are busy doing something else; shopping, a shared coffee shop moment, washing up and there is a chance at those moments that she may become less self-aware of the angst she is currently experiencing and more open to talking with you. Those moments cannot be forced although the opportunity for them might be created. Humour, patience and consistency are your best allies at present and if you can cope with that you are more likely to have a healthy and loving relationship of significance on the other side. The great news is that you are not alone in going through these experiences and an unresponsive daughter at this point does not mean a broken relationship in the future. Good luck!

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I have just discovered your web site and how marvellous to read about other’s experiences of coping with a teenage daughter.I worry about my daughter ‘being ill’ and not going to school suddenly and i believe she is not telling me the whole story. She came home from her father’s in a temper and proceeded to shower both od us with insults over her use of her mobile phone. The evening ended with her in tears – probably genuinely sorry for what she said but the next morning she was ill with sinus problems and refused to go to school. How do I, her mother, deal with this?

By Mrs Hepburn on Monday 21 November 2011

This is a great website and very welcome! My daughter is now 25 and we’ve both grown up since 1986 when she was born. Now she confides in me and that for me is a great privilege. Respect for each other is important; teenage tempers do not mean loss of that, they are just finding out who they are. If only exams and puberty were a decade apart. We do occasionally disagree but we work it out by talking – a tray of coffee shared was a great ice-breaker in her teens. There can be silences and certainly were when she was a teenager. It’s her own life, she was only ever ‘leased’ to me, she is not simply an extension of me or her father. But the journey is worth it – a job of work but the best job you’ll ever have. Fiona, mother of 2 and stepmother of 4.

By Fiona on Thursday 5 May 2011

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