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Mood Swings in Sixth-Grade Girl
Q: I have a daughter in sixth grade. I've noticed an increase in her social life and she is now interested in boys. I never know what mood she is in. One moment she is laughing and the next moment she is in tears! She doesn't seem to want to spend time with her family. Up until now we have always talked about everything and she has always been open with me. All of a sudden she doesn't want to tell me anything and accuses me of being nosy. Do I need to respect her privacy and trust she will come to me when she needs something, or do I keep asking questions and offering my help? She is in the gifted and talented program at school and she is involved in our youth program at church. I know that she is spending time with good influences, but I am very concerned about her emotions and the fact that she is shutting me out. I want to keep a positive relationship with my daughter. Please give me some advice on how I can do that. Thank you -- a confused middle-school mother.
A: I love how you signed yourself because no matter how good we are as mothers, when a child enters adolescence we all become confused. As hard as it is to face, your daughter is behaving exactly as she should. She is establishing independence and learning how to establish relationships outside the family. She is going through the mood swings that accompany her bodily and hormone changes, which indicate her entrance into puberty.
You have a good relationship with your daughter, which can be maintained by respecting her privacy, continuing to talk WITH her, being there to advise when she asks -- not when you want to tell her what to do. It is often painful to see our daughters change. However, they become the women we hope they will. I encourage you to focus on all her good qualities. Be vigilant, but not overbearing. Enjoy her journey with her.
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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.