Barb's Blog


How to Handle Her Big, Ever-changing Emotions

How do you handle the roller coaster ride of rapidly changing reactions of your adolescent daughter? When she is rolling her eyes, slamming her door, stomping out of the room, speaking with sarcasm or disdain, sobbing one minute, fine the next… what do you do with all that emotion? Your go to can’t only be margaritas and reality tv. 

Tips for when you just can’t take another life-sized mood:

  • Take three deep, long, cleansing breaths. It works faster than Xanax. Really.
  • Stop Talking: Let your teen know that you are going to table this conversation so that neither one of you say something you regret.
  • Leave the room. Better yet, leave the house, walk around the block. Try not to drive across the state line.
  • Go to your room: When her big feelings are coupled with rudeness, invite her (in a serene tone) to have her reaction in her room and that you would love for her to join the family when she feels a bit more calm.
  • Ask your partner/spouse to handle the situation. Let them know that you are tapped and your inner “Mommie Dearest” is about to grab a wire hanger.
  • Text a friend: ask for reminders and encouragement that you are a good parent; you got this; you have a good kid; this is just a moment.
  • Parent yourself. Help yourself to calm down by reminding yourself that this black and white thinking, lack of impulse control and big emotion is expected in her development. She can’t really help her fluctuating feelings. Her amygdala (our emotional center) is fully developed and running the show while her frontal cortex (responsible for her thinking and processing information) is not done cookin’ yet.
  • Email Barb to set up a parent coaching session (in person or over the phone) to blow off steam and get some tangible tools for next time the Titanic of feelings hits.

When you are in a space to have a conversation, show up with the emotion that you want to achieve between the two of you. If you want mutual respect show up with respect for her. If you want calmness show up with calm. Ask her what you both can do differently next time to avoid the blowup, the rudeness or the unpleasant exchanges. Listen with openness and curiosity. Take her advice into consideration.

Make your own suggestions from the heart. Offer her a few ideas that you have for her to feel her feelings without hurting those around her that she loves (see above tips). Let her know that you know she is doing her best. Sometimes she has such big feelings they are hard to contain and you believe in your relationship and you believe it will get better. Remind her that you love her. Warning: this process will be done more times than you can count before she packs up for college.


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