Help Your Tween Deal with Negative Emotions

New emotions can be confusing, but you can help.

Negative emotions can interfere with your tween's quality of life.
Help your tween manage her negative emotions so that she can move on and enjoy the process of growing up. Vast Photography/Design Pics/Getty Images

The physical changes your tween will face before, during and after puberty will no doubt be significant, but some of the more challenging aspects of growing up are dealing with all of the negative emotions that accompany puberty. Your child will be confused, frustrated and even angry because he or she just doesn't have the experience to know how to manage negative emotions.

You can help your tween learn how to minimize and even reverse the negative feelings that present themselves during the tween and teen years.

Below are a few common negative feelings your tween will face, with ideas on how you can help your tween. 

Help Your Tween Manage Negative Emotions

Sadness

Every tween and teen will feel sadness at one time or another. The sadness may be brought on by a specific incident, such as an argument with a friend, or your tween may feel down in the dumps and not really know why. When your tween is sad he or she may not feel like doing much of anything, and may decide to keep themselves while things are sorted out.

Give your tween a little room to work things through by themselves.  Sometimes a little time alone is very helpful. You may also offer yourself as someone your child can talk to, or suggest that he or she seek the advice of a good friend or sibling. If your child can't seem to snap out of her funk, you may need to seek the advice of her guidance counselor or pediatrician. 

Anger

Anger is one of the hardest emotions to conquer, for both children and adults.

An angry tween will have a lot of energy that he or she can't control, and she may feel like she's going to explode. Your tween may feel anger if he or she has being picked on, or when he or she thinks life isn't being fair.

You can help your tween deescalate by setting limits on aggression. For example, he or she may be allowed to work through anger through physical exercise, but not by picking on or yelling at younger siblings.

Make sure your tween knows that feelings are allowed, but that they must manage angry impulses. Help your children identify the signs that they're about to lose it -- and then help them develop a system for redirecting outbursts.

Paranoia

This one is a toughie. Many tweens are self obsessed, and that obsession will cause many tweens to think that something bad is always going to happen, and that nobody, even good friends, are to be trusted. The changes of puberty and growing up will no doubt confuse your tween from time to time. Occasional paranoia isn't anything to worry about, and considering the ups and downs of adolescence, it's understandable why tween might think that everybody is out to get them.

It's when your tween displays persistent paranoia, or if the paranoia is interfering with friendships and even family relationships, that it might be time to consult an expert on adolescent mental health issues. It may be a difficult step to take, but a tween who suffers from a lengthy period of paranoia may have other issues going on, so don't delay in finding help.

Embarrassment 

If you look back on your own tween and teen years chances are you have very vivid memories of being embarrassed. As your child's self awareness grows, so does potential for public embarrassment, or perceived embarrassment. Your tween may be terrified that peers will mock a new haircut or outfit, or even make fun of your family.

You can help your tween minimize these feelings by teaching social skills, such as how to speak to a group or in front of class, and to realize that you have to give your permission to be embarrassed. Help your tween learn to laugh at minor embarrassments, and to shrug them off when possible. It's hard for tweens to understand that peers aren't as concerned with them as they think they are, but with a little direction from you, your tween will slowly gain enough confidence so that embarrassing situations are fewer and far between.

Be sure your tweens also knows that they'll miss out if they lets potential embarrassing situations prevent her from doing things he or she really wants to do, such as try out for the school play or run for class office. 

Jealousy

Jealousy can present a number of challenges to a preteen. Your tween may feel competitive with friends, a sibling, or even someone they don't even know very well. Low self esteem can make a tween feel jealous of others, and even interfere with peer relationships. Jealousy can cause your child to treat others badly, and to develop potentially self destructive behaviors.

So, how do you help a tween whose exhibiting jealousy? For starters, acknowledging the jealousy is a good first step. If your child is jealous of a sibling, spend quality time with each child one on one. If your child is jealous of the new kid on the block whose made friends with your child's best friend, be sure to let your child know that friendships shouldn't be exclusive, and that there is always room for more friends.

Abnormal or pathological jealousy will cause a tween to behave in a very controlling way, and it shouldn't be tolerated. Therapy may be needed to help a child who can't manage or control jealousy.

What about Lying?

Lying isn't really an emotion, but a behavior. Still, you can't have a thorough discussion about negative tween emotions without at least mentioning lying. Your tween may lie to stay out of trouble, to avoid talking to you about something, or because he or she doesn't think it's a big deal to avoid the truth.

Try not to take lying personally, but do try to recognize why your tween is fibbing so that you can take appropriate action. If your child is lying because he or she doesn't want to talk about a touchy subject, it might be best to avoid the conversation until they're ready. If they're lying to stay out of trouble, you need your tween to understand that the truth is always an easier route to take. Your child will open up to you if you are helpful and non judgmental. 

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