Table of Contents
If you’ve been a parent, then I’m sure you must have wondered about how to deal with teenage mood swings.
Or perhaps thought as to why do these mood swings occur in teenagers in the first place.
For those who aren’t parents – remember the mood swings you had as a teen?
How were they, and how did your parents deal with such teenage mood swings?
I thought of raising this topic for discussion today as I often see the mood swings in my teens.
There are various reasons for this kind of behavior in teens that it often gets tough to pin-point the exact reason.
Parenting teens isn’t easy, and that’s why I thought about sharing how I help my teens cope with such mood swings with all of you.
“Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves.” ~ Virginia Satir
Teenage Mood Swings
You can sometimes compare the mood swings in teens to the personality of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! One minute your teen is kind and loving, and the very next critical and hurtful – aren’t they?
On some days your teenagers might be all happy, controlled and thoughtful, while on other days they might just be ranting and raving about petty issues. Sounds familiar!
I’ve often seen my own teens ecstatic and gleeful in the mornings, but when they return from school they are angry, annoyed, disappointed, and sad on something that upset them.
Aren’t teens forever on an emotional roller ride? And what do they do in such cases?
They sit gloomily, retreat to their bedrooms, and sulk. Or then they turn introspective by analyzing themselves and others around them, which includes their parents, siblings, and other family members.
So, it’s not just the mood swings that affect teenagers – the whole family and people around them get affected too. But there are reasons for such teenage mood swings that create such an upheaval.
Causes of Mood Swings in Teens
Adolescence is a period of chaos and stress for everyone in the family. Most researchers believe that teenage mood swings are a combination of biological and emotional factors. They are as under:
1- Hormones and growth
The teenage year is the time when the body starts producing sex hormones and goes through a major growth spurt.
The physical change a teen undergoes makes them feel awkward, confused, uncomfortable, which destroys their sense of security.
All of this has an effect on their psychological state and results in conflicting teenager mood swings.
2- Matter of the brain
As most of you know, the brain reaches 90% of its full size by the age of six, and it’s believed to have reached its full development too.
Researchers believe that the brain changes much more during the teen years.
The grey matter on the outer part of the brain thickens with time, and reaches its peak in females when they are 11 years, and males when they are 12 years of age.
Once this process is over, the brain starts trimming the excess grey matter that’s not used, leaving the information the brain needs, and making the brain more efficient.
The prefrontal cortex is one of the last areas to go through this trimming process, which is the area of the brain responsible for judgment, planning, and self-control.
Thus, while teens have very strong emotions and passions, they don’t have the mechanisms in place to control these emotions. This is because their prefrontal cortex hasn’t caught up with them as yet.
3- Identity formation
Most teens are typically preoccupied with identity formations or becoming entities, with lives separate from those of their parents. This often causes confusion and frustration in them.
With the fast changing world around them, they feel they aren’t able to cope or handle the pressure, which results in mood swings or an emotional state in them.
4- Emotional reactions
Mood swings in teenagers also results because they haven’t yet developed the ability to deal with the anxieties, frustrations, and pressures of life.
With their lives becoming more adult-like and complicated, teenagers don’t have the built-in coping mechanism like adults to help them deal. So, they are more prone to react emotionally to situations.
Feeling out of control as most teens feel, is a very uncomfortable feeling for anyone.
However, if the teenage mood swings are similar to normal mood swings a teenager goes through, then you can deal with them using the tips mentioned below.
“The young always have the same problem – how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another.” ~ Quentin Crisp
Here is a wonderful video about how to cope with mood swings, which anyone can relate to.
Dr Robi ~ How to Cope with Mood Swings ~ YouTube Video
Dealing With Teenage Mood Swings
Try out these tips to deal with mood swings in teenagers, which might help them and you in more ways than one.
• Let them know they are not alone – As parents and caretakers, help your teens to talk to you or their friends.
Let them talk to people who are undergoing the same issues, which helps them feel they aren’t abnormal or the only ones going crazy!
• Get them plenty of rest – Your teens need rest and regular sleep, which helps keep their mind in good shape.
Lack of sleep is largely linked to depression, which results in teenage mood swings too.
• Diet and Exercise – Ensure your teens have a well-balanced, nourished meal. A good breakfast can make a lot of difference to your teen’s mood.
When your teens exercise, they release endorphin into the blood stream, which help ease frustration and regulate their mood.
• Help them get creative – Any creative activity like painting, drawing, cooking, writing, or building something can help your teenagers to express their emotions in a healthy way.
• Give them space – Most teens want space when they are moody or dealing with emotions. Sometimes they feel like crying or withdrawing, and that’s normal.
They want to be left alone, both physically and mentally. So, let them have their privacy to cope with things.
• Need love and attention – Just like you have your share of mood swings, teenage mood swings sometimes occur because they just want to be loved and noticed.
• Listen to and support them – Sometimes teens act moody when things don’t go their way. Try not reacting to your teenager’s mood swings, though I know it’s easier said than done!
Sometimes they do or say things just to get a reaction from you, but if you ignore that, you might change their attitude.
You need to show your support through thick and thin, if they are right. Of course, you need to set boundaries for your teens and ensure they don’t cross them.
Without being judgmental, just try and listen to them. Sometimes they want someone to hear them without talking in-between.
• Spend family time together – If you spend quality family time, the teenage mood swings will lessen because your teens would be less angry, anxious, secretive, withdrawn, or upset.
Go out for family outings, movies, picnics, or anyplace together to have fun together. Simply having a meal together can be great stress busters for your teens too.
• Relax and take a breather – Just taking things easy, stepping back, and looking at the situation from another angle will help your teens realize that things aren’t as bad as they seem.
• Wait a while – Let your teenagers know that if they wait for a while, the mood may pass as quickly as it came. So, they should wait before acting out on extreme emotions.
You as parents need to role play and teach your teens how to cope with their mood swings. You could do things like count back from 10, listen to music, or go for a walk.
If the mood swings in your teens are severely abnormal or prolonged, they would need professional help.
Warning Signs of Teenage Mood Swings
Sometimes your teens might show some warning signs that might be more than the normal mood swings teenagers undergo.
They can be due to more serious conditions like bipolar disorder, clinical depression, or other mental illness.
Keep a look out if the following warning signs are visible in your teen –
- Irritable or sad for over two weeks.
- Have extreme feelings of highs and lows.
- Feelings of worthlessness.
- Erratic behavior.
- Failing grades.
- Suspected substance abuse.
- Refuses to participate in activities he/she once enjoyed.
- Mood swings go beyond the mood swings of a normal teenager.
- Talk of self harm or suicide, even if they are joking or trying to seek attention – get help.
There are many treatment options available to cope with teenage mood swings, depending on which might suit your teen best.
To name a few – behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, literary therapy, non-prescriptive alternatives, talk therapy, or talking to a medical professional about mood swings.
“Teenagers are people who act like babies if they’re not treated like adults.” ~ MAD Magazine
The teen years are an emotional time for your teens and you as well. If you try talking to them, they raise their voice. If they open up with you one day, the next day they go into their own shell.
Remember the time when you were a teen and had those teenage mood swings! Didn’t you also experience some of the overwhelming emotions or the feelings of inadequacy?
Although nothing has changed, today’s teens face more pressures and complicated situations as compared to what you and I did. So, try putting yourself in their position and feel what they undergo.
Support your teen and be understanding of their turbulent emotions. Remember, if your teens don’t listen to you, there might be reasons for that – try to get to know those reasons.
Teens are typically critical of their parents in most cases. It’s not always fun parenting a teen, especially when you’re attacked on a personal level!
“Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.” ~ Arnold H. Glasow
I agree, it’s not easy to deal with teenage mood swings, but if you know and love your child, you would use your best ways to deal with them. Keep moving forward and help your teen and yourself!
So, when things get too much, take a few deep breaths and tell yourself, “This too shall pass.”
Over to you –
When you were teens, how did you deal with your mood swings? As parents or caretakers, how do you deal with teenage mood swings? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos