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How to Cope With Teenage Mood Swings

- | 72 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Family & Parenting

a girl showing signs of typical teenage mood swings
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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

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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.

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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.

This is one of the main reasons for teenage mood swings. The understanding of the teenage brain can help parents understand teenagers and some of their behaviors that they can’t easily control.

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 

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72 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Sandy

    January 3, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Ah the lovely teenage years. I am going through this with my third daughter at 17 and it is still difficult. I can say nothing right, we are no longer allowed to have “fun” because she feels that laughing, joking and teasing is always at her expense, etc. she is irrational. ie. when her sister doesnt “like” a post on instagram she takes it as a personal affront.
    as one commenter posted “this to shall pass” As a parent, I have learned to see the humour in it, although i dont’ laugh in front of her. God forbid I laugh at all!!!!
    We still eat as a family every night possible, we go on family outings and i encourage her sisters to perservere as she will return to normal. lol
    YEs these are frustrating and emotional years, but sometimes if we take the seriousness out of it, it makes it easier on the whole family

  2. Bushra

    December 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    uh hello! I know this is weird because mostly parents of teens comment but I am a teen :/
    Well I am 17, I turned 17 this september… I get a lot of mood swings, specially recently.. And my parents are business persons so I don’t want to bother them with my problems..there is another thing here, I have a boyfriend we have been together for a year and mostly I don’t know what happens but I get all upset around him and react too much on things… well, my parents don’t like it if we meet so we don’t meet much, last time we met was 2 or 3 months ago.. I have an elder sister too, she’s 25… and everybody in my house is really busy and I don’t get to hang out with my friends either… And I want a pet but my parents won’t let me have one I guess.
    2 years ago I got a tattoo and since then I’ve pretty much grounded.. and I didn’t do a very good result on my board exam so I guess my parents think I’m useless… oh and another thing is there that my mum brought a counselor for me after I got the tattoo ( I sneaked out, to get the tattoo… I did not take their permission.. Okay I guess I’ve said a lot, my question is, am I abnormal? Do I have mental problems?

    • Harleena Singh

      December 26, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Welcome to the blog Bushra!

      No worries at all. The doors of my blog are open for everyone, whether parents or teens and I can well understand your situation being a Mom of teen kids too 🙂

      Teenage mood swings are known to occur and that’s very normal. I see my teens going through such mood swings too and it does get me angry at times, but because I know it’s a passing phase, and something all parents have also gone through, I understand and let it be. Your parents are perhaps right about you not meeting your boyfriend because this isn’t the age for anything other than concentrating on studies and trying to build a career. All parents think alike in such cases I think, and that’s because they are concerned for their children’s well being.

      Sorry about the busy lives everyone seems to be leading in your house, and I can imagine your loneliness in such a case. A pet would surely help, it does help us a great deal because though at home, me and my hubby keep busy too, though weekends we have fun with our kids and do spend time at least during the meal times and otherwise during the day, which is purely family time with them. Getting a Tattoo is no harm done, and perhaps if you can seek their permission before doing things that you know they might not like, it might not make them this angry, or perhaps they’d be alright with the idea.

      What I can make out from your talks here is that teenage mood swings are normal in your age. All you need is the love and support of your parents, who seem rather busy with work. Let me ask you, have you ever tried going ahead and talking to your Mom or Dad about your feelings, or just asked them for their time to sit and talk? Perhaps you wait for them to do the same, but if they aren’t as they don’t realize it, you go ahead? Even your sister, if you reach out will make a very good friend – sisters usually do.

      You are NOT abnormal at all, and I think you are very lively girl but somewhere along the line you seem to have lost the connection with your loved ones that you need to work on. Go out and talk to them, discuss or tell them you want their time, attention, and want to share things with them. They are your parents after all, so would surely understand. Give it a try and let me know how it goes 🙂

      Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

      • Bushra

        December 27, 2013 at 9:13 pm

        Thank you very much for the reply! 🙂
        And well, I don’t know I do talk with them I do try to spend time with them. I even cook food and help with grocery shopping and stuff.. But I feel like they don’t understand me :/
        And sometimes they’re unnecessarily rude to me, And as I mentioned before, I really don’t want to bother my parents, and moreover… mum and dad had some problems between them and I just don’t want to give them pain because they already have a lot of that… And I today I feel totally different than how I felt the day I posted it, so ya :/
        Well, anyways thank you so much for the answer, I really am glad you approved me normal 🙂
        you have a nice week too!

        • Harleena Singh

          December 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm

          I can understand you Bushra 🙂

          Perhaps you are trying your best from your side, and they might not be able to see all that you do, or the effort you are putting in, and sometimes to make them realize it, you need to tell them verbally that you need them or their time too. No harm trying that out, it might just work. Hmm…I don’t know the problem between your parents, which could also be the reason that their minds are diverted to different matters and not on you at all, and I hope their problems are resolved soon. Yes, we tend to have those roller coaster – up and down kind of feelings. Nevertheless, the more you talk out things, with your sis, friend’s, and if possible your parents, the better you feel 🙂

          Oh yes…you are more than normal little girl, don’t worry about it at all. Such things are known to happen when you are in your teen. You always have this blog as a platform to come and share whatever is on your mind with me 🙂

          Thanks once again for stopping by, and wishing you a very Happy New Year, well in advance 🙂

          • Bushra

            January 9, 2014 at 2:00 pm

            Thankyou very much!:) And yes thanks again, I am really fond of this blog and Happy New Year to you too, May Allah bless us all with health and happiness

  3. Cathy Taughinbaugh

    April 5, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Such an important topic, Harleena. I think your line – “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.” explains so much. The teen brain is still in the development stages. That is why mood swings as well as many other interesting behaviors characterize the teenage years. Great information here on how to cope with your teen. And again, it is only a temporary time in their life.

    • Harleena Singh

      April 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Cathy,

      Yes indeed, knowing and reading more about the brain made me realize so many things that are related to teenage mood swings. Their brain isn’t fully developed, and it’s not actually their fault for the way they behave half the time.

      It is a passing phase as we all know, and something that we all have undergone. Just wish more parents would realize this fact and understand and support their teens more during this crucial age.

      Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the post. 🙂

  4. Sue Neal

    April 2, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    My teenage years are a distant memory but I remember being all over the place, emotionally, and I don’t think my parents were able to cope with this very well – they were relatively ‘elderly’ parents (my Mum was over 40 when I was born) and sadly I didn’t feel able to talk to them very easily about a lot of emotional issues that I was dealing with. Don’t get me wrong, they were very loving, but there was a certain awkwardness about our relationships.

    You’ve given some great advice here, Harleena – I’m sure it’ll be an enormous help to anyone dealing with teenagers. Communication – that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Good communication is the answer to so many of our problems in life – it’s a shame we’re often so bad at it! Sue

    • Harleena Singh

      April 2, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      Hi Sue,

      Nice to hear about your teen years. I can understand your parents being more on the elder side, which might have been a little tough on them.

      Oh yes…when the age gap is too much, as must’ve been in you and your parents case, there is bound to be a communication gap, which of course is not the fault of either sides but something beyond your control. Not to mention that we sometimes have that with our kids too, even when the age gap isn’t all that much.

      Yes, I strongly feel if the channels of communication are open with their parents, teenagers will have less of mood swings – mainly because they are able to express and share their feelings, which is very important. Yes, they have their friends for that too, but what advice and support parents and family can give, friend’s can’t. And yes, communication helps any relationship get better – isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂

  5. Gagandeep Singh

    April 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Now a days teenagers are self obssesd. Sometimes they feel frustrated and irritated but at some points coll and friendly. This is what teenage is all about. Thanx for sharing this post. Teenage is really unpredictable age.

    • Harleena Singh

      April 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Welcome to the blog Gagandeep!

      I agree, most teens go through an emotional roller coaster ride and have their share of good and bad times. I guess they really can’t help themselves, though if they or their parents know ways to cope with their mood swings it might help. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      • Gagandeep Singh

        April 2, 2013 at 11:09 pm

        I completely agree with you Mam. 🙂

        • Harleena Singh

          April 3, 2013 at 7:18 pm

          Thanks once again Gagandeep, and glad you agree too 🙂




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How to Cope With Teenage Mood Swings

by Harleena Singh time to read: 7 min