It happens to nearly every parent: One day you wake up to find that your once sweet, calm, cuddly child has turned into a raging hormonal emotional roller coaster of a teenager. The mood swings, combined with drama, rage, and physical changes – ranging from zits and body odor to fits of inconsolable crying – may leave you as a parent feeling stressed and pretty clueless as to how to handle these by-the-minute changes. Here are some tips to help your teen cope with the hormonal changes that have thrown their world – and yours – into utter chaos.
Brace yourself. As your teen’s stress, sex, and growth hormones increase, expect irritability and mood swings. And as they get older, these hormones go into overdrive. Believe it or not, your teen knows that there is something going on, and sometimes they may just want to talk about it. Or maybe not…
It may be hard to handle, but remember to not take the mood swings personally. Remain calm. Even if your teen is raising their voice, avoid lecturing them. Sometimes they need their space, other times they will want a hug. The last thing they will want to hear is that these changes will pass; that’s because the emotions are very real and for teens, living in the moment is their reality. Be cautious though: it may be hard to differentiate between typical teen angst and depression. If you are concerned about the latter, consider consulting your physician or behavioral health specialist.
Get Ready for Physical Changes
Growth Spurts. It may seem unbelievable to your freshman son that in four years he might have grown a foot and gained 100 pounds. But the proof will be in the shoe size, and the food bill! Tweens and teenagers commonly experience a growth spurt that begins during puberty and lasts two to three years. When that spurt will happen varies from kid to kid. When a teen is at the peak of their growth spurt, he or she can grow up to four inches in a year. Once the growth spurt ends, your child will be at their adult height. Remember, growing pains are real, so make sure your teen gets enough sleep and nutrition to make sure they are growing properly.
Hair. The first signs of puberty are often hair growing where it didn’t exist before. For girls, that means on their legs, underarms and pubic area. Boys will begin to grow hair on their face, arms, chest and pubic area. As puberty continues the hair will becomes darker and thicker. Eventually your child will start shaving. Girls may ask to have facial waxes to remove peach fuzz on their upper lip or chin. Whenever you decide it’s time to allow your child to start shaving, show both boys and girls how to do so safely to avoid serious cuts or nicks.
Body Odor. Part of a tween’s changing body is the development of body odor. Testosterone and estrogen affect a teen’s sweat glands and make chemicals that smell pretty ripe. Body odor might be something your teen is actually willing to talk to you about. First, explain that, like most everything else, this too shall pass. Ensure they are washing their underarms often, help them select clothes made of breathable fabric, and ensure they are using an effective deodorant.
Zits/Pimples. The increase of hormones can cause both boys and girls to break out on their face, upper back, and chest. Pimples, blackheads and acne may appear at the onset of puberty and last through the teen years. To be sure, zits can be embarrassing for a teen. Fortunately for most teenagers, acne will get better or disappear completely as they age, but in some rare cases, deep acne may cause scarring. Again, talk with your teen. A good skin care regime consists of washing at least twice a day, changing sheets and pillowcases often and using over-the-counter topical medication. If acne persists, you may need to make an appointment with your doctor or a dermatologist. This can help manage pimples and prevent future breakouts.
Helping your child navigate the change in their teen years may not be easy. After all, one size does not fit all. The concerns and questions you have as a parent about your teen’s physical, mental, and behavioral health are both valid and important, as no one knows your child better than you do. Our services are designed to support you in your endeavor to raise a happy and healthy teenager. For complete care of your teenager, please contact your preferred CHC location in Newburyport or Haverhill to schedule a comprehensive health consultation.