How to Deal with Teen Moodiness

Eye rolling. Door slamming. Loud sighing. Unexplained yelling. If you have a teenager in your house, you have more than likely experienced the “famous” adolescent bad mood.

Everyone gets in bad moods sometimes – they are a part of life. Feeling cranky and irritable for no real reason can happen to the best of us, but teens are particularly prone to these feelings. Today’s blog will look at why bad moods happen, when these moods might be something more serious, ways your teen can shake the blues off, and ideas for how parents can avoid triggering their teen’s moods.

What Causes Bad Moods?

Why is the feeling of being on an emotional roller coaster so common among teens?

Hormones. Biologically, puberty brings an influx of new hormones that make your mood swing. The emotional ups and downs brought on by these hormones are normal, but vary in their intensity in different people.

Pressure. Teens are under a lot of pressure. They are trying to get good grades, perform well in sports or other extracurricular activities, and fit in socially. They may feel as though there just isn’t enough time to do everything, or they might feel exhausted from always trying to be perfect in so many different areas. Trying to excel and grow while being judged by peers, teachers and parents is a recipe for bad moods.

Change. Teens are in a transition between childhood and adulthood, and all the changes and new responsibilities are often overwhelming. Being a teen means struggling with identity and self-image. Most teens want to be independent while still feeling a certain sense of dependence on their family. They want to be treated like adults, but sometimes they still feel like kids. Adolescence is an exciting time, but also a bit lonely and frightening.

When Is It More Than a Bad Mood?

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 (over 2 weeks straight) of feeling irritable, sad, short-tempered, angry, excessively bored, or indifferent can be signs of depression. When the moodiness gets in the way of enjoying life or dealing with others, or if you believe your teen may hurt himself or herself, it is time to seek out a medical professional. (You can learn more about depression in one of our previous blogs.)

How Can Bad Moods be Relieved?

Assuming your teen is open to hearing ideas, you can offer them some tips on how to shake off the blues and improve their state of mind:

  • Recognize you are not alone. Understanding that almost everyone goes through mood swings during their teen years might make them easier to handle. Talk to your peers and you will be amazed at how similar your experiences are to theirs.
  • Be grateful. Research shows that gratitude is a natural mood lifter. Consider all the things and people in your life that you appreciate.
  • Random acts of kindness. It is hard to stay in a bad mood when you are helping someone else.
  • Get your groove on. Listen to your favorite music, a natural mood enhancer. Or find another hobby that lifts your spirits, such as journaling, art, or reading.
  • Get moving. Getting active releases natural feel-good hormones. Go for a walk, play a favorite sport, swim or ride your bike – exercise will make you feel better.
  • Get enough sleep. Though it can be hard to find enough time, getting adequate rest is very important. Being tired can lead to more sadness and irritability, and it greatly decreases your ability to cope with stress. Studies show that teens need 8-9 hours of sleep a night.
  • Reduce stress. Do not overcommit, or if you are already overcommitted, drop some activities. Determine what makes you stressed, and actively seek to avoid those triggers.
  • Talk. Find a trusted friend, parent, teacher or counselor to talk about your experiences. Keeping your feelings to yourself can make them feel worse than they are, so talk them out.

Tips for Parents to Avoid Triggering Moodiness

Parents can sometimes unintentionally contribute to their teen’s bad mood. If you avoid some common triggers, you might find your teen more pleasant to be around:

  • Balance space and involvement. Some teens think their parents are too nosy, while others think their parents don’t care. You need to find the balance that’s right for your teen that shows you are interested in them as a person, but doesn’t invade their space or push against their privacy. If your teenager looks or seems annoyed about something, let them know you’re available to listen if they want to vent, but don’t push them to tell you what’s going on.
  • Don’t put down the things that make them light up. Teens want their parents to be supportive and accepting of their tastes and passions. Do not offend your teen’s idols (singers, dancers, actors, etc.) or talk negatively about the activities they enjoy. You don’t have to like the same things, but you do need to respect that they have their own tastes.
  • Help end the insecurity. Adolescence is filled with insecurities, so avoid criticizing your teen. They are already feeling judged by their peers and themselves, so become a cheerleader for all the positives you see in them. Find ways to genuinely compliment their talents, outfits, academics, sense of humor, etc.
  • Quality time has benefits. Busy schedules often get the best of us. Make sure you are keeping up with your teen and their life. Do things together to relax, bond, and enjoy each other’s company. They may not show it, but they miss you when you are not as involved.
  • Respect privacy. Nothing bothers a teen more than having their privacy invaded. Don’t barge into their personal space unannounced or read private notes, journals, etc.

Final Thoughts…

Moodiness is just a normal part of the teen experience, but that doesn’t mean that you should let your teen’s emotional roller coaster run you ragged. Offer your teen understanding and empathy, but also encourage them to find ways to manage their moods in a positive way.

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