Q: My 13-year-old daughter has been extremely moody lately. She’ll be very happy one moment and be crying over the most minor of situations a few minutes later. I realize she is going through many changes and I try to be understanding of her disrespectful and highly emotional behavior. My friends tell me just to wait a few years and she will come back to the sweet girl that I’ve always known. Is this typical behavior for kids her age?
A: Adolescence is a time of many physical and psychological changes. This can result in behavior that appears highly emotional and unpredictable. However, you need to be careful that you don’t condone inappropriate behavior simply because she is going through puberty.
Try the following approach. First, make sure your daughter is well educated on what is going on with her during this time of many changes. Kids may be reluctant to talk directly with their parents about such issues but there are lots of good information available on the internet or books such as the American Medical Association Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Teen.
Second, clearly communicate that she cannot use these changes as an excuse for misbehavior. Kids, like the rest of us, need to learn out how to monitor our emotional and physical state and figure out ways to deal with people in a respectful manner.
You need not wait for a couple of years for your daughter to “return to normal.” With good education, emotional support and reasonable rules and consequences, you can enjoy this important stage of your daughter’s life.
Q: My third grader has numerous school projects that he cannot do on his own. I’ve seen some of the work from other students and it appears the projects were done by adults. I don’t want my son to be at a disadvantage, so I end up helping him more than I should. Is this wrong?
A: Yes. I can’t imagine your child is learning very much when you do his school projects. Meet with the teacher and express your concerns. Teachers can readily distinguish parent projects from ones completed by students. I’m certain the teacher will reassure you that your child won’t be penalized for doing his own work.
Q: My 7-year-old son seems to go out of his way to play roughly and hurt our new puppy. At first I thought he was simply doing this by mistake but I’m convinced he’s doing it intentionally. We’ve had similar problems with him in the past. How do I get him to stop hurting animals?
A: At your son’s age, such behavior is a significant concern that may be symptomatic of more serious problems. Speak with your doctor and have your son evaluated by a mental health professional with an expertise in working with young children.
Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit www.childrensdayton.org/ramey and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at www.facebook.com/drgregramey.
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