Early puberty - help, please, with emotional rollercoaster, behaviour and self-esteem(3 Posts)
I'm at my wit's end with DS, who's coming up nine-and-a-half. He has started puberty early. We saw a paediatrician a few times about it when he was eight, and she's satisfied he's not developing early enough to need medical intervention ('precocious' puberty). But he is developing early nonetheless – he's a head height taller than his friends, his testicles have grown bigger and 'dropped', he has more pubes than he can count and his legs are becoming bristly.
We can deal with the physical symptoms so far. But it's the emotional/attitude rollercoaster that's wearing us out and causing daily conflict on a scale I'm finding exhausting and bewildering, and which is ultimately chipping away at how he feels about himself.
DS says that he feels 'on edge' a lot of the time. He says he either feels really happy, or utterly fuming, or that he just doesn't feel himself. A lot of his interactions with me are now laden with attitude – sarcasm, rudeness, smart-arse remarks, disrespect, no manners. He's moody as hell and losing his cool over things daily – stomping about, slamming doors, kicking stuff (he nearly took a door off its hinges earlier because he kicked a football so hard at it). It's making me, DP and his step-brothers feel like we're walking on egg shells, which is unhealthy for all concerned and can't carry on.
DS keeps saying he doesn't mean to be behaving like this, and once he's calmed down, he feels ashamed and then becomes consumed with self-loathing and says he hates himself, that he's an awful person, which worries me; I don't want his self-esteem to suffer through this.
But I do lose my cool with him when he's so rude and physical; it's like a red rag to a bull, the sheer disrespect of it, and I end up letting rip at him more than I'd like - which can't be making him feel great, and neither is it setting him much of an example.
I don't know how to find the balance between being understanding about the hormonal upheaval he's experiencing and showing compassion – and with putting my foot down hard when it comes to his behaviour and how he's taking his moods and frustrations out on the rest of us/the house.
I need strategies for handling DS's behaviour myself - and for teaching DS to handle his own temper - as well as advice on how to keep his self-esteem intact at a time when I'm having to get pretty tough with him. Even though I tell him I love him every day and that he's a great kid (fundamentally, he is), I worry that more of my interactions with him are negative than positive of late.
Any ideas? Does anyone know of a support network for kids going through early puberty and their families? That would be great. And any strategies we can give DS for handling his temper? (And me for mine?!) I think it could be really helpful for DS to speak to an older child who's been through this and come out the other side unscathed and can empathise.
Thanks very much for any advice.
I could have written your post a year ago... DS then 9.5 found to be about 12mths into puberty. All the things you mention we had been dealing with but puberty... I had no idea it can start so soon.
He is now 10.5 and I have adjusted to the roller coaster. Really hope I dont sound patronising but hoping some of this rings true for you and helps. It is a cliche but i find the only thing that can change is my behaviour and if I or DH lose our cool it escalates and we can't bring it back. DS is stubborn, in spades and post-hormonal melt down he will miss supper (when I know he is hungry), miss his favourite tv show (because the rest of us are watching and he wants to sulk without us) etc etc
I read a couple of things that have helped. A friend with older DS recommended 'how to talk so children listen.' I dipped into this when he was younger and I find it much more relevant now he is older. Re-phrasing key words/instructions has been hugely beneficial as is saying 'I need you to...' Rather than 'please can you'.
I have also given him some more autonomy, a clock in his room rather than wake him for school, and more responsibility like helping pack lunches the night before I have to get him to school for an 8am activity club. This is really helping his esteem... Lots of small reminders that he can do things, he is a good kid, he can be responsible. I have wept to hear him call himself stupid and useless... Or such a jeffing idiot... But it seems this is typical tween/teen words and the more it goes on the more I think boosting his esteem is the key to his self confidence now and in the future.
I will have to google the name of the book I really liked as I have loaned it but a good one for him to read himself is 'what is happening to me. DS refused to read it when I showed him so I just left it on a bookshelf in his room. It is well read!
A year on we are managing but crikey it can be hard some days .... And for that there is MN, I really like the pre-teen forum... And wine
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