Combatting Moodiness in Teens

eyerollingTeens (and tweens) and moodiness go hand in hand. Between the raging hormone changes, rapid brain development, and the conflict of desiring, and also fearing, independence, adolescents are an interesting study in quick-changing emotions. Teens have many confusing challenges facing them, such as puberty, peer pressure, school and homework demands, and dating. It is important for parents to be understanding and remember how difficult the adolescent years felt to them. However, it can be very difficult living with a child who is bouncing from happy to sad to angry to grumpy in a short amount of time. There are ways to lessen the effects of moodiness. Parents can use these tips to improve their teen’s emotional stability:

Reduce Stress

The schedules of teens these days are loaded with responsibilities. From school work to extra-curricular activities, many teenagers run from one commitment to another without a break. Teens, just like adults, absolutely need time to relax. Parents should schedule down time into the family calendar, and they might discover that mood swings disappear when their teen has more free time. Parents should also encourage their teens to undertake activities during their free time that are proven to help people relax, such as listening to music, reading, journaling, or taking a walk. Talk to your teenager about overcommitment, and if they recognize they have that problem, help them to drop some of their activities. Reducing stress is a natural mood enhancer.

Increase Sleep

Studies show that teens need at least 8 1/2 hours of sleep a night, but teens average only 7 hours a night. As their hours of sleep per night dropped, youth reported reduced self-esteem and more symptoms of depression. Although it’s difficult to get your teen to prioritize sleep, parents should try. Ensure your teen transitions from a busy day to bedtime easily. Homework should be done by a certain time to allow at least 30 minutes to undertake relaxing activities, such as reading, before going to bed. Remove devices (phone, TV, computer) from his or her room by a set time. It is worth the effort to get adequate rest. Being tired can lead to more sadness and irritability, and it greatly decreases a person’s ability to cope with their moods.

Eat Healthy

Mood swings can be a sign that your teen is not getting the nutrition they need. It can be as simple as low-blood sugar when they are hungry, or it can be a lack of good nutrition to fuel all of the rapid changes their body is experiencing. Be sure to offer and encourage healthy eating (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, high-calcium foods).


Exercise is crucial to healthy living and is a natural mood enhancer. Being active releases natural feel-good hormones. School sports can satisfy this need, but if your child does not participate in sports, be sure you encourage them to exercise. But, don’t try to force your teen to do traditional exercises (such as sit-ups and push-ups) if they are having trouble with motivation. Instead, help them find activities they enjoy, such as going for a walk, swimming, skateboarding, or riding a bike.

Hang with Friends

Do not underestimate the importance of friendships to a teenager. If your teen is too busy to find time to spend with friends, it is time to rearrange his or her schedule. Teens need to feel accepted by their peers and hang out with their friends frequently. Sometimes a mood swing can be stopped or prevented by a simple visit or a phone call from a friend.

Hang with Family

Your teen may not always act like it, but they need (and want) to spend time together with their family. Parents should eat dinners together with their children as often as possible. Eating together helps teenagers make better choices about the foods they eat, promotes healthy weight, and gives your family time to talk to each other. In addition, a teenager who eats meals with their family is more likely to have better grades and less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs. Families should also plan regular outings, and parents should schedule one-on-one time with each of your children. Fun activities like these are something to look forward to and can perk up any teen’s mood.


Your teen may be having mood swings because they are upset about something going on in their lives. Many teens keep their feelings to themselves, but that can make their concerns feel worse than they actually are. Let your teen know that sharing concerns with someone can put the problem in perspective and help find a solution they might not consider on their own. Offer your teen the opportunity to open up to you, should she have any concerns. Parents must be sympathetic and help their teen brainstorm solutions to their problem, regardless of whether they think the problem is important or not.

Final Thoughts…

Nearly everyone goes through mood swings during the teen years. But, it’s important to understand whether a bad mood is temporary irritability, or something more serious. Long periods of feeling irritable, short-tempered, angry, excessively bored, or apathy (just not caring about anything anymore) are signs of depression. Depression is not just being sad. When the moodiness gets in the way of your teen enjoying life or dealing with others, it is time to seek out a medical professional.

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