I imagine I’m not alone in having children who seem to have waves of emotions flowing through them, sometimes without any external events triggering the change from one emotional state to another?
If your kid suddenly gets gloomy or mad, then a few minutes later is all sunny and happy again, seemingly without anything causing the change, you know what I mean.
I think that a part of it is biochemical with my kids: if they have sweet treats then it’s a sure bet that 30-45 minutes later they’ll be finding reasons to get upset, either with the injustice of the world (“how come Mike gets to have a Gameboy and I can’t? That’s not fair!“) or with otherwise irrelevant events in their lives (“I have to go to bed the same time as I did last night? No! I won’t do it!”).
Sometimes, though, these emotional tsunamis come and go without any dietary contribution, sometimes it’s just exhaustion (for example, the day after a sleepover I know that my daughter A- will be in what I can charitably call a “fragile emotional state” or uncharitably refer to as The Godzilla Moment), but other times it’s just seemingly random.
We see this more with our 11yo A- than the younger ones, so I’m sure it’s related to the hormonal changes associated with menarche (which we haven’t reached yet, but it’s surely just around the corner), but it seems to me that all kids have a touch of this, as do, for that matter, most adults.
What I’m learning — finally! — is how to deal with these moments. Before I would argue / discuss the perceived injustice, playing right into the situation. After all, if their perceived injustice or upset is not caused by external events, is there really anything to talk about or explain? Now I’ve been trying a different, calmer strategy, where I simply acknowledge their upset and stop talking.
To my amazement (as in “duh, why the heck didn’t I do this earlier?”) it seems to be a quite successful strategy. Instead of getting sucked into the mood, I let the waves come and go without my intervention and they seem to leave us far sooner.
For example, this morning A- and I were walking to school and Linda called to tell me that she was keeping G- home for the day because he seemed exhausted and just probably needed some time off. Okay with me. A-, however, got very upset and complained that it wasn’t fair and that she didn’t get to take the day off. I just said “l hear your complaint. Life isn’t always fair.” and left it at that.
She stomped along, upset, and then, no more than thirty seconds later, the clouds lifted, the gloom dissipated, and she was fine again. No argument, no thrashing, no pushing her mood onto me. Wunderbar!!
How about you, how do you generally handle the seemingly random mood swings of your children?