Why is my tween so grouchy?

Dr. Peter Nieman
Globe and Mail Update

Published Friday, May. 13, 2011 12:01AM EDT

The question

Is it possible that my tween daughter is experiencing the hormonal cycle of menstruation, without actually menstruating? Her mood swings have escalated, and it seems, sometimes, the extreme grouchiness can only be attributed to hormones.

Am I on the right track?

The answer

Tween girls do tend to be, as you mention, grouchy. Not all tweens experience these emotional swings but when they do, the family dynamic can be altered.

Exactly how female hormones impact the developing brain of a tween remains a mystery, but hormonal swings may play a role even before the onset of menstruation. I tend to call it the hormonal dawn. This age is like the dawn of a day — the sky toward the east is getting brighter but it will still be a while before the sun rises.

In older individuals functional MRIs show that monthly hormonal fluctuations are associated with physiological changes in the brain. It is a complex science however and at this stage no objective and valuable data are available in tweens.

A good place to start is to focus on what you can control and to ignore things you cannot control such as when these hormones fluctuate. Make sure she’s not staying up too late, eat excessive amounts of junk foods full of preservatives, chemicals and refined sugars.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.