Teen Mood Swings

Teens are well known for fairly significant mood swings. They can be laughing one minute and angry the next. Parents can feel like they are on a roller coaster trying to keep up with their teen’s mood and emotions.

These rapid and intense shifts in mood are generally a normal part of adolescence. Hormonal shifts that occur during puberty are the primary cause, and these chemical changes definitely impact the way teens think and feel. But knowing the cause doesn’t make it any easier to live with. So, today’s blog will cover how parents can best handle their teen’s mood swings and also how to determine if those mood swings might be an indicator of more serious problems that need a doctor’s help.

Successfully Handling a Teen’s Mood Swings

It can feel like trying to walk through a minefield when dealing with a teen’s mood swings. To handle mood swings successfully, you need to take care of yourself, have an open discussion with your teen, and learn some tips for what to do in the heat of the moment.

Take care of yourself. For adults to be able to successfully handle a teen’s mood swings, you need to be in a healthy, calm state of mind. When you don’t feel well or aren’t taking care of yourself, you will find yourself more irritable. Eat healthy, get enough sleep, exercise, and do things that make you happy. These things will all help you to be a better parent!

Talk to your teen. One of the best things you can do to help a teen suffering from normal mood swings is to start a conversation about it when your teen is in a good mood. You should let them know that it’s normal to have mood swings during puberty and that you understand it can be scary and frustrating for them when it happens. Explain that there are natural ways to reduce mood swings: getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising. If your teen is lacking in one of these 3 areas, you could offer suggestions and/or help to improve it. But you also need to explain that having raging hormones does not give them permission to act disrespectfully. You can offer to be understanding during these mood swings, but let them know that you will not tolerate breaking house rules, aggression, or disrespect.

Learn what to do during the mood swing. Teens aren’t always their most rational selves when in the heat of a mood swing, so it’s important that you learn tips for best diffusing the situation:

  • Stay calm (count to 10 or take deep breaths) and speak in a calm voice.
  • Be prepared to listen and validate (not necessarily agree with, but offer understanding of) your teen’s feelings.
  • Do not interrupt your teen when they are talking.
  • Avoid sarcasm, threats, and personal attacks.
  • Give them space – allow them to have alone time.
  • Take a break if the conversation gets heated.


When to Seek Professional Help

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when a teenager’s mood swings are normal hormones or signs of an underlying problem, such as a mental health issue. Your teen might need professional help, if your teen:

  • stays in a state of sadness, frustration, anger, or irritability for over 2 weeks.
  • is self-harming or harming others.
  • can’t maintain friendships.
  • is withdrawing from friends and family.
  • loses interest in activities.
  • is frequently aggressive.
  • has repeated thoughts of hopelessness or worthlessness.
  • exhibits significant behavior changes.

Depression and anxiety can both exhibit mood swings as one of their symptoms. These mental health issues can be easily treated, but it requires you to recognize the signs and seek professional help. Start with your teen’s pediatrician. Explain what you’re seeing, and if the doctor agrees it could be an underlying problem, ask for a recommendation to a mental health specialist.

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