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I’m a part-time working mom and I have twin daughters. They’ll be 12 years old next month. My question is is it normal, even when they’re almost 12 years old, to sometimes scream and cry like crazy when they have a fight with their friends?

Indeed some of their friends like to tease them and I see it as a usual teasing, not bullying and I just can’t get it why my kids need to be so mad. This makes me worried since a neighbor once asked me to teach my kids not to throw tantrums. They’re big already that’s not normal. I was shocked that someone said that as if I’ve never taught my children how to act but this makes me think if I need to find professional help or not. Thank you in advanced for your answers.

  • Hard to answer without more info. How do they do in school? Is this behavior limited to interacting with their friends or elsewhere too (you, teachers, each other)? What seems to trigger these tantrums (just teasing)? Your neighbor is ignorant, a child at the age of 12 is at the precipice of some major brain rewiring and that can manifest in different ways. One needs to take a look at the underlying reasons. – Xander Oct 20 '17 at 6:58
  • Thank you for your response, they’re just normal kids at school, I mean not excellent but not bad either. According to the teachers they’re both normal. They don’t make problems with other kids too. When I ask them to do the house chores or clean up their mess, they’ll roll their eyes but they do it even though they nag a lot how they hate doing it. It’s just this isn’t the first time a neighbor told me my kids are annoying, the other neighbor told me the same thing several months ago. I just can’t get it tbh, why is it ok for their kids playing & screaming while it’s not ok for mine to fight – Nana Oct 21 '17 at 0:32
  • I suspect your neighbor finally gets quiet time and your kids are yelling they are annoyed. Also they can do something about their kids, but not really about yours. Just apologize to the neighbor, know that odds are good the kids will outgrow it at some point and live on. – DCook Oct 23 '17 at 18:19
  • Forget the neighbor, just apologize and move on. Neighbors can be jerks. That being said, you should tell us how you normally respond to her tantrums. It's important to let her calm down by herself, but it's equally important not to reward that kind of behavior by making her get her way every time she has a tantrum. – Stephan Branczyk Oct 24 '17 at 22:14
  • After my daughter calmed down, I told her not to do that again, she’s already6th grade and it’s not a way for 6th grader to solve a problem. It looks like she was having her PMS that time and I told her, I understand that feeling you can’t control but however, people won’t understand about you’re having PMS or not. People will only see you as someone who gets mad easily. And the result of this tantrum is making me sad. The mother of my kids’ friend doesn’t let her daughter to play with my kids anymore. They had been playing for more than 2 years, now my kids have no friend after school. – Nana Oct 25 '17 at 11:48
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It can be normal, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

12-year-olds might be "big," but that's not the same as "grown" or "mature." My daughter, now almost 14, has had a rough time in middle school. Every couple of weeks there's enough wrong that she just sobs about it, completely inconsolable, for ten minutes straight. Something like: she's hungry, and tired, and there's a lot of homework, and somebody said something rude about her favorite shirt, and then I told her to wash the dishes... and suddenly she's screaming into a pillow about how horrible everything is. (The most recent trigger is a household chore, but me nagging is not the only problem getting her down.) But after flipping out, she's better. Not great, the dishes get done with plenty of grumbling, eye-rolling, and clatter -- but she does the dishes, eats a snack, texts a friend who will say how awesome that shirt actually is, and gets back to her "normal" self.

I'm not saying this is a great method of handling stress on her part ;) But sometimes she is just overwhelmed and needs an immediate outlet for all the negativity in her head. Since she's a child, screaming and crying are an easy way to release it. It's also more likely to happen around me, because I'm safe: I won't judge her or be angry the same way peers or teachers might, I'll love her no matter what and I will respond with helpful concern.

We have worked on, and continue working on, finding healthier stress outlets both long-term (getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well) and short-term (discussing good reactions in high-stress situations: "if I ask you to do the dishes but you're really overwhelmed, how can you tell me that? how can I balance giving you time to decompress with the fact that the sink is full?").

That being said, a tantrum and a panic attack can look awfully similar. If the events that trigger a "tantrum" are very frequent, if it seems like she legitimately can't get control of her crying, or if you've just got a gut feeling that this is a more extreme reaction than a pre-teen should have -- talk to your pediatrician at their regular annual exam. They can help ask your daughter(s) questions about stress, triggers, reactions, and general emotional state to tease out whether this is just poor handling of an overwhelming day, or a pattern of anxiety, stress, depression, or even emotionally abusive "friends." And then you, your daughters, and their doctor will be able to decide whether more professional intervention is required. (My daughter regularly sees a therapist, which gives her an outlet to talk, a professional resource to suggest coping techniques, and an unbiased judge of her perspectives. It's helped.)


I'll also side-note that a friend that teases a lot, especially if they're aware it is causing pain, isn't a great friend. I tease and am teased by my friends, but we're conscious of each other's limits. If feelings get hurt accidentally, we apologize immediately. Anybody that doesn't have the same consideration for my boundaries is definitely not fun (or healthy) for me to hang out with. From experience, this is hard to teach to pre-teens, and they are likely to take even gentle teasing a lot more personally and deeply than a grownup. Acknowledge how much it can hurt feelings before you tell them to just ignore it -- the pain legitimately exists, even if they don't need to be letting it get to them!

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You mentioned in a comment that you think her PMS has something to do with her outbursts. As someone who suffers from some rather severe PMS (since 7th grade) I would encourage you to seriously look into this as there are ways to help.

I am NOT a doctor so please consult her doctor before taking action on any recommendations. I am offering up information based on my experience dealing with this issue.

Start by having her track her period to, first of all, check that it is regular and secondly, get a schedule down of when she can expect it. There are several apps out there for this so I'd suggest that as an option or just using a calendar can work too.

Once you've gotten that tracked, you can now see if her extreme outbursts are correlated with her time of month. My PMS affects me the week prior through the week of my period (at the longest).

At a young age, the range and intensity of emotions felt from severe PMS is very overwhelming and difficult to deal with. I'd try to encourage an open dialogue with you or possibly look into therapy. Learning what emotions shes feeling, why, what triggers them, etc. can be very helpful to catch yourself before sudden outbursts. It helps establish your boundaries and help identify situations where you know you might react in an extreme fashion.

My doctor's recommendation for helping with this issue was a healthy diet and exercise. Research multivitamins available for preteens if she is not already taking one. There are a variety out there and you might even find one that targets PMS. I take one that is high in B6 and magnesium (both help with PMS). Evening Primrose is also a supplement that specifically targets PMS. I take this during my two weeks of PMS (The only pills I've found are rather large. Trying to find an oil like essential oils or Doterra to try a rub on instead).

I've also switched to a gluten-free diet. There is research that supports a correlation between enhanced mood swings and gluten intolerance. I had known I had a sensitivity to wheat/gluten but it never affected me enough to remove it from my diet until my doctor told me about the connection to PMS. This is a recent change (the last two months) but I have not had extreme mood swings during this time, it's AMAZING.

If PMS is a cause for her actions, 6th grade seems on the young side to experience this so your neighbors, if they do not have teens yet or gone through this change in hormones with their own children, have not experienced how severe these reactions can be especially for someone just starting to experience them.

I'd also encourage you to explain to your daughters that this is not an "excuse" to behave in such a way, it is something they need to learn to live with. I've met many people who do not believe PMS is real and women just use it as an excuse for their temperamental behavior. Don't get me wrong, I know some women who do do this and it is not acceptable in my opinion. Take responsibility and find a solution.

Good luck with your daughters. Life can already be difficult at their age and being alienated for something that you don't have total control over is added stress neither of them should be put through.

Some articles regarding the science I mention:

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