8 Year old boy hormones
Yes you read it correctly I am writing about living with 8 year old boy hormones…. Who knew that I would have to start contending with hormones when my biggest boy was still so little? This was a parenting memo I didn’t get. Perhaps I skipped that page in the manual…
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I totally thought that there was a good couple of years left of my lovely, rational little boy before puberty came to wreck it all for a while, but no apparently this malarkey starts before all the physical changes. Hormonal changes in boys can be evident even from 8 years old. It is a tricky time for us all living with this darn 8 year old boy hormone surge I can tell you!!
What has been happening?
For the past couple of months my usually kind, loving and generally well behaved little boy has become unbelievably angry and emotional. The slightest thing can set him off even me asking him to put his shoes on which last weekend prompted him to lie on the floor sobbing… To start with I put this down to a growth spurt as he does tend to act out when he is growing and doesn’t sleep well so gets grumpy, but then it just carried on and it wasn’t all the time so one minute I would have my lovely little one wanting to cuddle on the sofa and next this angry brute throwing his (rather little) weight around.
I started to think there must be something wrong and wondered if there was an issue at school that he wasn’t telling me about, but no his teacher hasn’t seen any change in his behaviour. In fact he was given a certificate for being such a good friend to his classmates.
At home it was a different story with him losing his temper with his brother and sisters regularly. I tried talking to him to see if I could help as I do appreciate that our house is chaos and having three little siblings must be a lot to deal with, but he just kept saying no he was fine and then the next minute he would be so we carried on. He and I spent a good bit of time talking together about feelings and looking at books about stress etc… to help him explore what was making him be so very emotional, but he just kept saying he didn’t know why he was getting cross or upset.
I hate you…
One day he told me he hated me and that I was the worst mummy in the world. I think I asked him to come to the table for dinner…. I was desperately upset and so was he. He looked horrified as he said it and then cried and cried saying that he didn’t mean it. He also started waking in the night and coming to my bed. The reason? Well he said he needed to have more cuddles and just seemed to want to be with me. It was very sweet, but just a bit odd so I was getting concerned again that something was wrong.
Around that time I saw posts on instagram from Mom of 2 little girls who also has an almost eight year old (girl) and she was experiencing similar emotional issues with her little one. She has written a great post about her experiences and those of others which yours truly also threw my two pennies worth in on. I also chatted to other mums at school and whilst not all of them had been seeing any issues with their little people enough of them were for me to start wondering if this was just a normal phase for 8 year olds.
So off I headed to Dr Google! I searched for 8 year old boy hormonal changes uk and I found discussions on mumsnet with loads of other parents experiencing the same thing, but it took me a while to find actual medical theory!
Adrenarche 8 year old boy
It seems that I am not going crazy and fortunately my little boy probably isn’t just turning into a nightmare. He is probably just a very hormonal 8 year old. Changes are starting to happen. Scientists have discovered an 8 year old hormone surge that happens prior to puberty. It is called Adrenarche or Adrenal Puberty and doesn’t encompass any physical change, but does impact their emotions and relationships.
Back in 2005 Australian scientists were looking into this adrenal hormone change in a join project between the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Royal Children’s Hospital which studied the development of children from year 3 onward. The study has found evidence to suggest that those who enter adrenarche early have significantly different brain patterns from those who don’t. I am no expert, but I can certainly see how this could put pressure on those playground relationships. According to the study boys are more likely to have behavioural issues as a result of this phase. You can read a great article about it in the Sydney Morning Herald Puberty Hormones in Primary School Boys
The article caught my eye as it starts with the following sentence
That literally sums up my lovely little boy at the moment. Living with 8 year old mood swings is no joke! He gets so annoyed and frustrated out of literally nowhere. Some days it is a full time job just dealing with the outbursts in a very hormonal 8 year old house.
How I am dealing with it?
Well first I had a bit of a tear about the fact that he is growing up. That is just par for the course for me. I mourn every time I notice that they are getting big. Next I then started to think about ways I could help him. Clearly if his emotions are being driven by hormones it is hard to control it, but I still feel like he has to learn to manage those feelings. We can’t have him running about hitting his brother or sobbing when asked to finish his breakfast.
Honestly it is a bit heartbreaking when the lovely little boy you have raised is seemingly so different. I am trying my best to support him, but it is a tricky old path right now and I don’t know if I am getting it right.
I thought I should try to explain to him what was happening and that these were normal 8 year old boy hormonal changes. We talked about what hormones were and that they might be making him feel this way. Honestly I probably should have bought a book to help as I am no expert… He asked lots of questions though and we checked answers together. I think he found it helpful to understand what was going on as he certainly seemed confused by his emotional outbursts or sobbing fits.
Once I understood I felt like I could be more patient with him. This doesn’t mean we are going entirely softly softly. We can’t simply tolerate him being disrespectful to me or unkind to his siblings. So there are still consequences like losing that all important time on electronic devices. I am just trying to implement it without any further upset or heartache. He has to understand that we can’t all run around having tantrums every 5 mins (I am still a work in progress on this front so I would rather he nailed it now).
I have long used children’s meditation tracks to help relax the kids before bed or in lieu of a nap at quiet time, but I have started doing this more with my eldest. So if he is having a mood swing I ask him to go to his room and put on his meditation track. I often go and sit with him. It is quite lovely to be with him in these moments. The tracks are lovely and lead you through journeys on hot air balloons or to the beach. They definitely help to calm him down and clear his mind and its relaxing for me too!
I remind him when he gets cross about these boys hormones and try to give him a cuddle so he knows he is loved whilst he grows through his emotional moment. Sometimes he doesn’t want me to cuddle him in that moment so I just tell him he is loved. I reassure him that I understand, but still remind him that he cannot behave this way. Often we circle back to the behaviour at bedtime when he is calm and have a good chat about why and what he might try to do next time he feels this way.
We have also pushed his bed time back a little bit. It seemed important to maximise his sleep as he looked so tired. I don’t know if it helps, but I know I am impossible to live with when I am tired. Imagine my poor long suffering husband as I have essentially been tired since 2011!
I honestly don’t know if I am dealing with this the right way, but you can only do your best – right?. Dealing with a hormonal 8 year old was not on my list of things to do as a parent…
Hopefully by being supportive and yet firm I can teach him that we need to talk about our feelings. I want to help him to find ways to let out emotions without shouting and hollering or kicking his little brother…
If you have any tips for how I can help him through this I would absolutely love to hear them. I am not an expert I am just another mummy trying to do her best. Suggestions are gratefully received.