Recognizing the Signs of Your Child’s Moods – Listen to Your Children

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Vision perception - Memoirs

 

 

Moody. I don’t like that word. Moody was a common name my mother called me – constantly. No smiles or laughter from me constituted moody.

 

When I look back on my not-so-stellar childhood and think about the words – “You’re so goddamned moody,” I shake my head and shudder.

What did I really want to reply to her snide remarks? “I’m not moody, it’s you who makes me miserable, always breaking my spirit. This face is just for you.” But instead, I kept my hurt and resentment to myself because I knew if I didn’t, I’d pay dearly for opening my mouth. It was just easier to stay silent and miserable, using my facial expressions to evoke what I wouldn’t dare say verbally. Certainly, living under those circumstances kept me moody for years. How I didn’t turn out to become a chronically depressed person is nothing short of a miracle.

Growing up walking on eggshells around my mother and HER moods and volatile fits of anger kept me pretty quiet. Being a personal slave to her whims, demands and demeaning created my moods. But I couldn’t tell her that. I craved so badly for her to ever ask me why I looked so unhappy. But I did what was expected of me and kept my laughter and good sense of humor under wraps; revealing my happy side and humor only for others. She never really knew me.

Despite my crappy childhood, I was lucky. I was a thinker, an analyzer, and a planner, living on my dream of leaving home one day. And after I finally did move away from home at 18, Humpty put herself back together again on her very own. I was calmer without living with daily anxiety as I did at home, I devoured self-help books, and fell into a wonderful circle of loving and supportive friends. I met my best friend Zan within a year of moving into my cozy little apartment. She taught me that it was okay to be myself, allowed me to cry out loud, made me feel I was worthy of being loved, and cared about me, especially on those days when I didn’t wear a smile. She was also the first friend I ever had who told me she loved me and taught me to feel comfortable saying those words to others. ‘I love you’ was a phrase uncommon to me.

Between my new friendships and the many books I read, I found myself. I grew to love myself. The big personality I had hidden deep inside bloomed outwardly and I felt my personality radiate wherever I went. I realized then I was not a moody person; I was well-balanced, held no more pent-up anger, and no longer felt I was living in a perpetual state of anxiety. I loved to laugh and make others laugh. And although I may have and still do rant at injustice, I’ll state my ire, get it out of my system, and move on with a smile. From a childhood filled with not being heard or understood and stifling my thoughts, worries and dreams, I grew in all the healthy ways I should have done growing up at home.

And this little insight into my former years leads up to my question, what is wrong with parents who don’t even try to understand the reasons for their child’s behavior?

There’s a reason for a mood – bad or good, there is something behind those moods. People, especially children, wear their hearts on their sleeves. Sure, kids may be sad or mad for trivial issues such as: they didn’t get their way or perhaps they hurt themselves, or they may not be feeling well. But kids who walk around carrying sadness or hurt in their hearts will undoubtedly present themselves displaying signs of hurt, anger, displeasure, nervous habits, and mostly silence. These children need attention. They need love and compassion and a parent to notice and ask questions.

A child shouldn’t be made to suffer in silence with worries and anxieties plaguing them. It’s the parent’s job to notice these behavioral changes in their children. If a well-balanced child is showing continual signs of unhappiness or anxiety, it’s the parent’s job to speak with the child with compassion, giving them the comfort and freedom to speak about what’s on their mind.

A child needs security. They need to know their parents love them. They need to hear their parents tell them they are loved. They need to feel comfortable in knowing if anything is bothering them they can freely talk to their parents without being afraid to confront them or made to feel their problems are insignificant or a burden to their parents. It’s a parent’s duty to know their child and question them when they see their child is unhappy. What they don’t need is name calling, being ignored and left to their own imaginations, wondering why they can’t share their concerns.

I know growing up in my era, parenting didn’t come with an instruction manual, as it still doesn’t today. But in today’s world there is a lot more awareness about child rearing, many books available, and many support groups available  to get educated on raising happy, healthy children. I’m not sure whether or not compassion can be taught, but I will add here that having compassion for your child should be the very first prerequisite to entitle a parent to be a parent.

Yes, I say I was lucky because it’s quite common for children who grow up in a disturbing environment to carry their angst and hurt with them throughout their lives. They’ll often remain reserved, sometimes falling into deeper or long-term depression. Some grow up being easily led astray by anyone who offers them a false sense of loving them, and many grow up combative and become bullies because of the resentment embedded deep within their psyches from their underlying hurts.

Emotional damage can take a lifetime to overcome, and for some, they may never get the chance to become mentally stable or be able to experience happiness in their lives. If they’re lucky like me and have a strong will and sense of what is right and what is wrong, and can wade through their childhoods and discover methods and people who can help them grow and nurse their wounds, they’ll have a fighting chance. But sadly, for many, this isn’t always the way things turn out. So, please, give a child a fighting chance of growing up happy and healthy. Have compassion, use patience, spend time with your children, and tell them they are loved.

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45 Comments

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  1. Recently one of my grandsons has shown signs of anxiety. He is meeting with a counseler, but (mother hen that I am) I’ve tried to think of other ways to channel his nervous energy. This morning his dad told me he’s going to a camp with friends, has applied for a summer job at a local grocery, and will vacation with his parents in July.

    I admire the way you “mothered” youself by using the springboard of your mother’s negative example to escape. What a role model!

    1. Thank you Marian for your lovely compliment, and for sharing some of your own life here. I’m happy to hear your grandson is getting the support he needs. That’s what it takes to understand a child and take appropriate action to give them a sense of belonging and understanding. <3

  2. Really good post, Deb. I remember one particular incident. My son was a crier–lots of temper tantrums–and it was tempting to ignore his wails though I tried not to. One particular time, carrying him from daycare, his face red, cheeks wet with tears, screams filling my ears, I decided these were different. And they were–behind me in the hallway he’d dropped his blanky. I’ll never forget that.

    1. Thanks for chiming in Jacqui. I have no doubts you were a good parent. That’s what good parent’s do, understand their child’s cries. 🙂

  3. A terrific post Debby and one to take to heart. I have seen the results of that type of indifference in young people with eating disorders. Partly learned as small children when they found that not eating achieved more attention than eating and that it was the only way to communicate. It is a habit that survives into adulthood and into long term relationships. I grew up in a household where children were seen and not heard. We were not allowed to question anything. My parents were the product of their upbringing which was Victorian. Generational chasms are even greater now and it is little wonder that some children find that the only place they can express themselves is online.. hugs xxx♥

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Sal. I know we have similarities in our childhoods, albeit, in different ways, especially the ‘seen and not heard’. And yes, eating disorders seem to play a part in children’s unhappiness whether it becomes anorexia or obesity. Thanks Sal <3 xxxx

  4. Hi Debby – a parent (not my parents!) can hold their older children and others in thrall … and cause emotional stress. The parent not being able to critique themselves – that they have something wrong … some of your first paragraphs ring very true – sad to say. Difficult. Great post – cheers Hilary

    1. Thank you so much Hilary, for visiting and leaving your truth. 🙂 x

  5. This is a wonderful post, Debby. Full of practical insights into the world of emotions that are often hard to detangle. Curiosity with an open mind and heart goes a long way when dealing with moody children (and adults). Sharing feelings requires trust and trust has to be earned. I hope your post opens doors to understanding and love between struggling children, teens, and parents. Hugs. <3

    1. Thank you Diana for sharing your beautiful heart here too. 🙂 <3

  6. Survivors are we, aren’t we? Great and helpful reflection for those spared the trauma–whatever sort childhood brings, some worse than others.

    1. Thank you my friend. 🙂

  7. I spent a lot of time walking on eggshells around my mom due to her bipolar rants, but she never really made digs at me. Regardless, we all get through it the best we can and then realize how it shapes us for years to come.

    1. Thanks for sharing here Jeri. I’m not sure what is scarier – growing up with a sociopathic narcissist or a bipolar mom. I suppose we both have survived our childhoods and made ourselves regular lives, but there are plenty of others who’ve endured and are affected their whole lives.:)

  8. Somehow you and my husband managed to keep an open heart with a mean-spirited mother. It amazes me. He was back-handed for being moody. He worked hard in high school because that felt like his path of escape and re-created himself in a whole new way when he left home and went to college with a full scholarship. As an adult, learning from others and me, he learned to cherish the words, “I love you,” and taught his mother to say those words to him. We knew she loved him. We knew she was an abandoned woman with no skills and a child to raise on your own. You (and Vic) have a huge work ethic and an uncrushable spirit. It’s a blessing, but it’s hard to forgive your mothers for making life so damn hard.

    1. Thank you Elaine for your kind words. From all I’ve learned of your Vic from your writings, I feel honored to be compared to him in spirit by you.
      What a difference it has made for both me and Vic to come into loving people when we finally escaped the clutches of our mothers. And although I got away, somehow she kept at me for 30 more years with psychological blackmail. It took most of my life to get over the guilt but I did. I hope Vic did too. <3

  9. Great subject for a book, Deb. Advice gleaned from personal childhood experiences is powerful. I too was told I was moody and couldn’t wait to leave at 18. We were blessed with strong wills and the ability to adapt, qualities that many unfortunate children lack. Excellent post, my friend ❤️

    1. Thanks so much T. Oh yes, you and me girl, two peas in a pod! Oh, and a book, hmmm? Good food for thought. <3 xxx

  10. Well said Debby, with much insight. I wish my mother could have done this and moved on from her unhappy childhood, as you obviously have. Kudos to you!

    1. Thank you Stevie. Unfortunately, back in our parents’ era there wasn’t much recognition or support for such family dyfunction. 🙂

  11. “this face is just for you” hilarious! But sad at the same time, I recognize so much of what you wrote here. I was that child too.. I try to really be present with my child now and not project my stuff onto her.

    1. Thanks for dropping by and sharing. It’s astounding how many of us there are. But so glad to hear you realize what transpired and want to do better for your own child. 🙂

  12. An amazing and insightful post, Debby, I agree with your words about compassion and keeping an eagle eye on sudden mood changes. Thank the Goddess you are a fighter. <3

    1. Aw thanks my lovely Sis <3

  13. I agree with you Deb, emotional damage never heals, however hard you may try to brush it aside, some memory, some incident, some happening around us pushes us into that whirlpool that we have emerged from, a grim reminder that memories can never be erased. Even these days, there are such children who have to go through terrible times! This era may have given us all the technology but parenting has no modern gadgets. Human beings remain the same – some caring and some self-centred!

    1. You are so right Balroop. We may learn to overcome childhood hurts but it doesn’t take more than a song to strike up a painful memory. I suppose people like us are some of the luckier ones who got away, despite the occasional painful memory. <3

  14. Debby, a superlative post!! 😀 This should be essential reading for any parent. Throughout I was nodding my head in agreement … it irks me and I feel pain for the children who are dismissed as ‘moody’ and as you so rightly mention, there is always a reason! They just need to be listened to, shown time and care! It must have been tough growing up with angst and sadness in your soul but so happy you ‘found’ your true self with the help of a friend.

    Finally one sentence stands out for me.

    ‘ I will add here that having compassion for your child should be the very first prerequisite to entitle a parent to be a parent.’ Absolutely!

    1. Thank you so much Annika for your kind words. Perhaps it’s time I consider writing a parent’s hand guide? Hmm, food for thought. Thank you again. 🙂 xx

  15. Thank you for sharing this Deb. I too felt ‘closed down’ growing up, that I had to present in a certain way to keep the peace. I was afraid if I said what I really felt, I would be in big trouble. The problem with that is that as I entered my teens, I carried a rage that exploded at times in frightening ways. I felt helpless to express myself, and spent years finding my way to do so. Writing, of course, being the best way! I always enjoy reading more of your life each time, honoured to have you as my friend as the strong, beautiful and inspiring woman you are today. Love you Deb! <3 <3 <3

    1. Sher, my warrior woman friend. Our similar angst in childhood doesn’t surprise me. It’s always amazing to me when I learn about others who struggled with their childhoods and come out victorious leading normal, happy lives later in life. That isn’t the way it turns out for many. For people like you and me, writing was definitely our savior. Thank you so much for sharing more of yourself here my friend. Like attracts like as they say and I’m loving you right back my Lovely. 🙂 <3 xoxo <3

  16. PS Deb, I wanted to let you know that I haven’t been getting your replies to my comments on your posts recently. I’ve changed my email address on your comment form, as I realised that although I ticked the ‘notify me of comments by email’ box, they were going to my old email address, which I rarely use or check. I tried to change my WP email to my gmail address, but now get that weird icon with my name when I comment. I hope now I can get your replies, as they don’t come through my WP notification button any more. Wanted you to know so you didn’t think I was ignoring you…I would never do that my dear friend! 🙂 <3 xoxo

    1. Hi Sher, you’re so sweet. I would never think you were dodging me lol. But seriously. if you changed your email and you did not link that new address to your blog then I don’t think WP would notify you, probably sending to the old email. So I’m surprised you’re getting notifications for other blogs. If you can’t find a work around, try signing up on my page to follow the blog and get emails of my new posts, that’s how I get yours by email notification. Let me know how that goes. You are a gem!!! <3 <3 xx

  17. Well said, Sis. I know we share our “common – disastrous upbringing,” just with different parents. We’re survivors and smart enough to respect our own self-worth! Life is a journey and I would say we are lucky that our paths crossed. You’re a special lady and I am proud to call you, Sister. <3

    1. Aw shucks Sis you know that goes both ways. <3 We were destined to meet! Sisters from another mother LOL <3 xx

  18. Hear hear, Debby! We talk about kindness, a big word. That starts right at home with children. Listening and caring make all the difference in the world. Terrific post with a most important message. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much Jennie. The message is so important, and as a pre-school teacher, I’m sure you certainly can appreciate the message. 🙂 x

  19. Such a wonderful, thoughtful post, D. Convicting, too. I can always do better by my boy. And I love how you found your own world of happiness and self as you evolved into young adulthood.

    Did something change on this site? I have to fill out contact info to be able to comment.

    1. Hi Diana. Lovely to see you drop by and leaving your kind words. We can always do better right? The key is awareness, getting to know your child and acting accordingly. From what I know of you, I would say your son is blessed to have a mom like you. 🙂
      And yes, the GDPR has come into law where we had to add policies and banners to our blogs – especially self-hosted. By filling out the contact (one time) you’re giving your permission for your website and name to be stored. I really don’t know more than that, other than if we don’t collect consent we can be penalized with a fine. Have you noticed this on other blogs? I sure do. 🙂

  20. A very heart-felt, personal, and passionate post, Debby. I’m so glad you “got out on the other side”, and had wonderful people to appreciate you and support you through becoming your own self (again). I couldn’t agree more that parents should see what’s going on with their children and help out when necessary. Sadly, there are many parents who don’t care, or are too selfish (as your mom was), or ignorant, or convinced they don’t have shortcomings when confronted.

    In my situation, I rebelled as a teenager due to the behavior of my mom. I feel we have an understanding and a decent relationship, but – even now – I have to bite my tongue in certain situations (and retain my anger and the injustice of some situations) to prevent an explosion making me feel like crap.

    1. Thank you Liesbet. And believe me, I do know what it feels like to have to bite your tongue around your mom. I spent much of my life doing that even after I moved away from her. Remember, she didn’t have to be present in my actual life to still play her psychological mind games with me. Don’t be afraid to take a stand when you feel it necessary. I spent most of my life trying to appease in order to avoid confrontation with my mother. Eventually, we’ll bleed out. 🙂

  21. Thank you, Debby, for sharing your thoughts. You are amazing to be able to do what you have done and kept yourself sane. Great advice for parents everywhere – pay attention to your children.
    You must have had many guardian angels around watching over you. Thank God for that – what would this world be without such a special lady? Much love & hugs xx

    1. Aw, thanks so much Janice. And yes, I truly believe my angels are always around – especially in dire moments of need. <3 xoxo

  22. Great advice, Debby. I totally agree, especially with this: ‘give a child a fighting chance of growing up happy and healthy. Have compassion, use patience, spend time with your children, and tell them they are loved.’ But you knew I would. I also was fortunate to survive, though I haven’t as yet ditched all the baggage.

    1. Thanks so much for chiming in Norah. Of course this post resonated with you with all you do for the sake of children. And I’m sorry to hear that you too had a troubling past. Just proves that you are one of the stars who shined through, got through and do good things for children. You’ve risen up and above and didn’t allow yourself to become a permanent victim <3

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