Question:

I Googled "testosterone anger teenager boy" and your site was one of several I found. I liked yours the best :-) I'm trying to help my twelve-year-old understand why he sometimes feels angry without a specific reason. Being a woman, I can't relate to what he's going through,but I had a feeling it was due to growing levels of testosterone. From what I've read, that seems to be the case. I plan on printing your information so he can keep it handy for futurereference.Hopefully he and I can reach a better understanding of the changes occurring in his body, and more importantly, the sporadic mood swings.

Thanks for your informative web site. Keep up the good work!


Answer:

Thank you very much for the kind words. It means much to me because that study is one I spent numerous hours putting together and continue to work upon through the years. It is a pleasure to know that others are finding it useful.

I usually tell mothers that they have a bit better understanding of what their boys are going through than they might imagine. The problem is not so much that his testosterone levels are rising than that they rise and fall at unpredictable rates for about eight to ten years. Overall the levels tend to rise and they will eventually reach his adult levels in his early twenties. From there they will remain steady, or very gradually decreasing, for the rest of his life. It is this steadiness that tends to give men their stoic outlook at life, which women don't grasp. It is not that they aren't emotional, it is just that men in general don't seem to have the swings in emotions that women live with and accept. But that is because a woman's body switches hormone levels constantly through a monthly cycle; something men can't fully grasp.

It is the changes in hormone levels which causes a person's moods to be amplified, sometimes out of proportion for what is needed at the moment. It happens to both boys and girls. Every parent of teenage girls tell me about the emotional storms they have weathered when their daughters reached their preteen and early teenage years. What catches many off-guard is that similar storms happen with teenage boys, but since they are not attached to monthly cycles they can be more unpredictable.

Dealing with the storms is a bit easier for men, probably due to their steadier emotional state. People are just coming to realize the importance of dads in the lives of both teenage boys and girls for their development. But if circumstances leave you without a man to help, the method of deal with the problem is basically the same. Even though there are times you want to scream at them, the best approach is a relative steady calm. It doesn't mean you won't get angry at his misbehavior. It doesn't mean that you won't have to punish him when he does wrong. But compared to his emotional outburst, you need to present to him a calmer front (scream later when he isn't around).

Teenage boys do better when they know in advance what is expected of them -- even if they don't always manage to meet those expectations. They do better when they know in advance what the consequences of those failures will be, even though they will gripe about them. Strangely, there is comfort to be found in knowing where the boundaries are and knowing that they are being enforced. Some parents go overboard and try to lock every action into place. A teenager needs wiggle room to make their own mistakes and face their own consequences. A parent needs to make sure that these are within reason and not dangerous.

The reason for the explanation about hormones for the boys is to let them know they aren't loosing their minds. Often times when they are experiencing emotional storms there is a part of them thinking, "This is nuts! What am I doing!" If they know in advance, then it is a bit easier to deal with. The storms will still happen, but they will be prepared to weather them instead allowing themselves to be swept along. They should know that this is why they are overacting even though it doesn't excuse bad behavior.