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Noreen Claire

Help me with this kid, please.

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I need your best "been there, done that" advice for dealing with a kid who has been, up to this point, extremely bright, academically advanced, mostly patient, and quick with his schoolwork and who is now, suddenly, moody, crabby, and obviously hormonal in a way that effects his working memory, his patience, his frustration levels, his focus, and his ability to make good decisions.

Currently, he is sent to bed between 8:30-9:00pm, but can read for a while in bed. He gets up at 7am. He eats pretty well, though I think he could use more protein and good fats. He doesn't eat tree nuts, eggs, or poultry products and he doesn't drink milk, though he does eat cheese and yogurt. He's has soccer 3x/week and cross country 2x/week, but they both end this week. Basketball starts soon, but will be only 2-3x/week. He does not have regular contact with kids his age outside of sports. 

Give me your best tween-hormones-are-going-to-kill-us-both advice, please!

Edited by Noreen Claire

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Trampoline

Weed eating

Digging holes

Airing up tires.

Mine likes work that really feels like "grownup" work. Not little kid work of folding socks or dusting. 

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Is his age in your siggy correct- 10/5th grade?

My best advice is to lower your expectations and not take anything personally. You've addressed the big 4 here- food, sleep, exercise, and social time. Keep working on those. Pursue more social opportunities for him. If there's any way to get him time with dudes doing dude stuff, try to work that out. Increase exercise as much as you can. 

Academically, the memory/brain fart issues are real. Go back to your kindergarten strategies- short lessons interspersed with physical movement and food breaks. Expect to have to repeat lessons.

I cannot overemphasize the not taking it personally thing. Do not emotionally engage. Let him feel his feelings and set your boundaries on the treatment of others, but do not get on that rollercoaster with him.

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Isn’t this the kind of change people look to for PANDAS? I know next to nothing about PANDAS, except what I have read on here, though. I think maybe @Ktgrok is one of the parents on here who looked into or dealt with it. 

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My best advice is to not cope by eating ghiardelli mint chocolate chips, or you will gain weight. It's a mistake I made with my oldest. 🙂 

In all seriousness, the tween/teen brain in puberty is under major reconstruction; it's literally rewiring. Don't take things personally and offer a lot of grace. We found it helpful with our boys to scale school back to the basics.  We added a lot of physical activity.  We re-did our landscaping, and paid our boys a decent wage to do so.  Having them haul thousands of pounds of rock, mulch, etc. was good for their bodies and minds and they develop a valuable skill for adult life. Likewise, we've built sheds (from kits), repainted houses, renovated decks....any type of physical hard labor you can throw at them is good. We also worked on learning how to cook, first aid, planning major road trips, laundry--whatever adulting skills you want them to have. 

When your tween tantrums (I also have a 5th grader this year), I just kinda raise my eyebrow in a non-threatening way and ask if they need to take a moment for themselves. Parenting tweens is very much like parenting toddlers.  Self-regulation is a very important skill.  I get that we all lose it at some point, but learning how to recover and manage life gracefully is valuable. I find that I am having to step in a bit more and help them recover.  We have found it helpful to have a stack of engaging books---taking some time to read and have a snack often helps them pause and re-set.

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Adding...fwiw, 10.5-13.5 has been the worst for us. My kids, as actual teenagers, have been delightful.  My 8th grader has rejoined humanity this year, for which we are all rejoicing. 

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14 minutes ago, Quill said:

Isn’t this the kind of change people look to for PANDAS? I know next to nothing about PANDAS, except what I have read on here, though. I think maybe @Ktgrok is one of the parents on here who looked into or dealt with it. 

We've been through PANDAS. This isn't it, though it *is* aggravating stuff that's always been just under the surface, like anxiety and tics. His last serious PANDAS flare was the final straw that convinced me to pull him from the public school, between 1st and 2nd grade. I really feel like this is hormone related. He's grown 2 clothing sizes and at least 4 shoe sizes since spring...

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Honestly, this sounds like normal tween stuff to me.  I'd focus on the big 3 - sleep, nutrition, exercise.  And try to keep a sense of humor!  

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The main thing I would change would be high activity sports/exercise every day for no less than an hour, preferably much more.  🙂

Food-wise, is he able to eat as much as he wants?  Plenty of snacks available?  With him growing that fast, he might be getting "hangry."

Another vote for don't take it personally!

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There's a reason BSA moves from Webelos to full-fledged Boy Scouts at this age. They need HARD work, and not make-work. They need sleep. They need males in their lives to show them the way. And they need love and humor. His brain will return--the trick is to keep the relationship through the tough times. Chopping wood is good, especially for other people, as is shoveling snow. He needs non-life-threatening danger--camping, hiking, building, mountain biking, skiing. If he's on a screen more than an hour a day, stop. Go read Homeschooling for Excellence--one of the very first hs books, to see how they kept their boys on track. 

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Physical activity, hard muscle work.  Two hours daily.  Get him on swim team or cross country; give him the yard and home chores that involve moving heavy things and using the body.  If you can, get him on a project that's good for a senior or the community where he can do things like move loaded wheelbarrows and take tires off vehicles.

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He’s been very active.  When was the last time his ped checked his vitamin levels?  I’m thinking he has a deficiency somewhere that is wearing him out and he has nothing left to control himself with.

teens in general, and especially boys, tend to run low on magnesium and zinc.  And I think exercise depletes magnesium.  I give my boys 5 Magmind caplets each evening.  A missed day and boy, I can tell the difference! It seems to help hold them together emotionally or calm them or something.  My friend just ran a vitamin panel on her 13yo and started supplementing what the ped recommended.  She’s said it’s made a nice difference.

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26 minutes ago, matrips said:

When was the last time his ped checked his vitamin levels?  I

Thank you, this made me realize we haven't been taking our vitamins, and it's time to add vitamin D as well.  Will start today!

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Could be he needs more choline. One of my kids, now 23, and I need way more. There’s a genetic predisposition to it and we both have it. Egg yolks and liver are excellent sources but if your son doesn’t eat either, then you can supplement with krill oil for awhile and see if that helps. My son takes the Now brand of krill, iirc, 500 mg each, 10 capsules. It’s made a big difference although his GAD rears it’s ugly head now and then. Far less often, though.

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I agree with the meaningful work thing. But it won't always be what you define as meaningful. To you, since he's a smart kid who's always done well, it would probably be meaningful if he were to push ahead with his schoolwork and be ready for such and such high school level whatever. To him, that might be pointless. He might need to be actively building something or earning money in the neighborhood or something like that. I find that they need outside validation and serious work, but it has to feel important to them. Sports, performance based activities, scouts, competitions, jobs, and projects are all things that I find often spark for kids this age.

And it won't cure the grouciness. That's normal. You definitely have to adjust your expectations.

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2 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Adding...fwiw, 10.5-13.5 has been the worst for us. My kids, as actual teenagers, have been delightful.  My 8th grader has rejoined humanity this year, for which we are all rejoicing. 

Ah, there is hope! Good to hear! 

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3 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Adding...fwiw, 10.5-13.5 has been the worst for us. My kids, as actual teenagers, have been delightful.  My 8th grader has rejoined humanity this year, for which we are all rejoicing. 

We were just talking about this the other day. I don't think they all match up, but I do think that each kid has their hard years and their fun years. When you're in the hard it feels like it'll last forever, but they do emerge again. For ds, the worst was from about 13-15.5. He's 17 and just the best right now. 

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I have twin annoying teenagers. They're 16 now and I've finally figured out how to ignore them when they're being teenagey -- and put on my favorite podcasts. I have several. They really help.

The main thing: I remind myself practically daily that the babies/kids who were really bonded to the mom, have to pull away the hardest or they won't become truly functional, wonderful adults.

It's heartbreaking, but our sweet, darling little caterpillars are becoming butterflies.

Alley

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Can you try to find an activity that gets you guys laughing together?  Mad libs, games like that stupid Mouthguard Challenge, stuff like that.  I've noticed that when my DS is especially moody, he needs me to reset him and we both of us REALLY need to laugh for a while.

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