Understanding Early Adolescents

Understanding Early Adolescents

Dr. Dobson Answers Your Questions

Q. My child has just entered the adolescent years. What does that mean for me as a parent?

A. First, understanding the glandular upheaval that your child is undergoing makes it easier to tolerate and cope with the emotional reverberations that are occurring. For several years, some kids are not entirely rational. Just as a severely menopausal woman may accuse her innocent and bewildered husband of infidelity, a hormonally depressed teenager may not interpret his world accurately either. His social judgment is impaired.

Parents shouldn’t despair when it looks like everything they have tried to teach their kid seems to have been forgotten. He is going through a metamorphosis that has turned everything upside down. But stick around. He’ll get his legs under him again!

I strongly recommend that parents of strong-willed and rebellious females, especially, quietly keep track of the particulars of their daughters’ menstrual cycles. Not only should you record when their periods begin and end each month, but also make a comment or two each day about moods. I think you will see that the emotional blowups that tear the family apart are cyclical in nature. Premenstrual tension at that age can produce a flurry of skirmishes every 28 days.

If you know they are coming, you can retreat to the storm cellar when the wind begins to blow. You can also use this record to teach your girls about premenstrual syndrome and how to cope with it. Unfortunately, many parents never seem to notice the regularity and predictability of severe conflict with their daughters. Again, I recommend that you watch the calendar. It will tell you so much about your girls.

As for boys, their emotions and behavior are certainly driven by hormones. Everything from sexual passion to aggressiveness is motivated by the new chemicals that surge through their veins. There is, however, no cyclical fluctuation that parallels a menstrual calendar in girls. As a result, they can be more volatile and less predictable throughout the month than their female counterparts.

This article was adapted from Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide by Dr. James Dobson with the permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.