Easy Ways to Calm a Frustrated Tween

A little kindness can help a frustrated tween calm down.

Growing up can be difficult, especially when you're caught between childhood and adolescence. Tweens find themselves in new territory just about every day, and with all the challenges they face, it's no wonder they often find themselves confused and frustrated. If your child seems to be at the end of their rope, you can help. The tips below can help you calm your frustrated tween so that they can gather their thoughts and move on—hopefully without a full-blown argument or temper tantrum.

Give Them Space

If your tween comes home from school angry and grumpy, you might try giving them some space before asking them about their day. Allow your child some alone time to find a snack and maybe even decompress with an activity before you ask any questions. Give your child time to calm themself down and you might find that their grumpy mood vanishes before you ever say a word.

Listen If Your Child Wants to Talk

If your tween engages you in conversation, listen to them. They may want to blow off steam by telling you what's bothering or upsetting them. Try to listen without offering up any advice or judgment. You can always do that later when your tween has calmed down. Tell them that you're sorry they had such a bad experience, and ask them what they want you to do to help, if anything.

Find a Distraction

Sometimes tweens need to be distracted from their problems. Consider asking your child to help you with a project so that they might take their mind off of their challenges. They might want to go grocery shopping with you, walk the dog around the block, or even watch a younger sibling while you make dinner. Or, consider sending your tween on a simple errand, such as outside to fetch the mail or to return something to a neighbor.

Refrain From Interfering

Your tween may want to confide in a friend about their problems and frustrations, so don't feel the need to interject unless you think you need to. Tweens are learning to rely on their friends more and more, and that may mean distancing themselves from their parents a little.

Don't take it personally if your child doesn't include you in the conversation. It's a normal part of development.

Be Kind

Sometimes a little kindness can knock anyone out of a bad mood, and the truth is kindness is contagious. Consider surprising your tween with a favorite treat or an unexpected trip to the local ice cream parlor. You'll know what will take your tween's mind off of their frustrations—it might be a game of tennis, or you might decide to watch a movie together. Pick what you think will work and enjoy your time together.

Know When Something Serious Is Going On

A little frustration is one thing, but if your child is struggling with a serious matter, you may need to intervene and even to advocate for your child. If your tween withdraws from their friends and activities or suddenly stops communicating with you, find out what's going on. Your child may be experiencing bullying at school, or they may be struggling with a mental health issue. Other signs that a problem may be serious: your tween's grades fall; they become secretive; they have new friends that you don't know anything about; money and other objects from home are going missing. Even though tweens are growing up, sometimes they need an adult's help.

3 Sources
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  2. van Hoorn J, van Dijk E, Meuwese R, Rieffe C, Crone EA. Peer influence on prosocial behavior in adolescence. Res Adolesc. 2016;26(1):90-100. doi:10.1111/jora.12173

  3. Stopbullying.gov. Warning signs for bullying.

By Jennifer O'Donnell
Jennifer O'Donnell holds a BA in English and has training in specific areas regarding tweens, covering parenting for over 8 years.