Remember that 80’s movie? I remember it. I tried to watch it with my kids once and forgot how disgusting it was. The microwave scene, anyone? Anyway, I mentioned that I had a rough weekend with my teenager, and most of it was resolved after I remembered that he isn’t a gremlin even though he may act like it some of the time.

Gremlin rule #1. Keep out of daylight.

Of course this rule must be broken, but sometimes it is easy to forget that they need to break it. Teenagers are busy. They get caught up in their activities or their phones or their video games. These things are not bad (no, not even their phones), but if they don’t get a break they become grumpy. Teens need exercise and fresh air. Make them mow the lawn, rake the leaves, or go for a walk. This is especially true for boys. They have all that built up early manhood stuff, and it needs an outlet. After a lazy weekend full of video games, my son felt so much better after his intense swim practice. I had forgotten, in my own laziness and desire to be left alone, that he needed to expend some energy. I should have sent him out. They need daylight. They don’t know this, but we do. Make sure they get it.

Gremlin rule #2. Never get it wet.

If your teenage son plays any kind of sport, you know this rule must be broken, but how many times do we let them get lazy and skip this? I remember when experienced moms told me to bathe my toddler when we were having a rough day. It was strange how it worked, but a fresh-smelling baby was like hitting the restart button on the day. I don’t know about you, but a shower always makes me feel better. My husband reminded me that sometimes teens are just moody. There is nothing to be done for it. Maybe a warm shower could help. It certainly couldn’t hurt. At the very least, at least you all get a break.

Gremlin Rule #3. Never, ever feed it after midnight.

This is the first rule that should be broken when a teenager is cranky. I know this is why we had trouble this weekend. He was hungry. It was late. Does he really need a snack this late at night? YES, he did! I had forgotten that we had just a light dinner that night. It had been enough for my husband and me, but it was not enough for a growing teenager. I finally told him to make himself a snack, but the damage was done. We were all past irritated.

When things are getting hairy during the day or even late in the evening, start with breaking this rule. FEED THEM. Yes, even if it is after midnight.  I found that sometimes they didn’t even realize they were hungry. They just kept getting more cranky. It is easy to forget how much fuel a growing teen needs. This applies for girls too, especially if they are athletes. It will probably mean more trips to the store for you, but the peace will make it worth it.