3 Tips on Managing Your Teen’s Mood Swings
Is your tween or teen experiencing the symptoms of what I call the ‘Emotional Armageddon Syndrome’ or EAS? Let me give you an example of how EAS might look like. This is a real story. Picture my 13-year-old daughter bombarding me with hugs, telling me how much she loves me. A split of a millisecond later, her smile magically transforms into the meanest frown simply because I said: “Honey, don’t forget to clean your room before you go to bed.” Does this sound familiar?
The truth is most kids become a different child when they reach the tween or teen years. As they enter the pre-adolescent years, they begin to experience physical, emotional and social changes. Frankly, many have a hard time facing their puberty and don’t know what to do with it. If you remember, our bodies were totally wacked and out of control when we became teens. Between the menstrual cycle, wild hormones, physical development, voice cracking, new desires and curiosity, puberty can be quite challenging.
Then, you have the teenager who tends to over-react as her world is seemingly crashing down. “I hate school. All my teachers hate me. No one wants to be my friend. Everyone is trashing me on social media. My life is a disaster!”
Maybe you’re noticing these unpredictable and intense mood swings yet finding yourself unprepared to deal with these changes properly. The good news is that, according to research, mood swings during adolescence are actually normal, aren’t necessarily a reason to worry and they shall pass. I wonder if these researchers have tweens and teens at home? Anyhow, the key here is to help you and your tween/teen manage these swings in a healthier way.
In this post, I’m sharing three tips to help you guide and support your child during this intense journey so that they learn to face mood swings in a healthier way while keeping your sanity along the way. Does this sound like a plan? All right, let’s get started!
Tip 1. Stay Calm
One thing that worked well for our 17-year-old son and seems to be working well for our 13-year-old daughter is focusing on how we’re going to react to their mood swings before we correct the behaviour. An effective way to address your children’s mood swings is to remain calm, in control and exercise patience as you interact with your moody tween or teen. In other words, don’t take it as a personal attack but rather model the reaction you want to teach your child which, in this case, is to remain calm and in control. See it as your child struggling with emotional overload and lacking the resources to handle it properly.
Are you surprised? If I get upset and start yelling at my son for being moody or disrespectful, guess what he’ll likely do? He might become defensive and feel the need to raise his voice to be heard. On the other hand, if I stay in control and show empathy toward him while addressing the issue, he’ll likely follow my lead, calm down and feel I care about him. Take it as your opportunity to model the desired behaviour.
Tip 2. Play Smart
Most people reason better when they’re calm and in a good mood. If you’re asking your boss for a salary raise or a higher position in the company, would you do it when she’s angry or dealing with a stressful situation? Probably not! The same principle applies to your child. When she or he is talking back at you or giving you a full-blown EAS demonstration, it’s usually because she’s upset, moody or simply wants to be left alone.
I’m not suggesting ignoring or pretending the disrespectful behaviour never happened. Rather, I recommend that you find the right time to bring up the issue so that they are receptive to your teaching. When I want to discuss a serious matter with my tween and teen, I usually bring it up when they’re calm and receptive to listening. Often times, these conversations happen during a car ride or when they’re in their bedrooms ‘chillaxing.’ The key here is to avoid coming in with a judgmental attitude or jumping into conclusions without hearing the facts as these two will likely trigger confrontation that may result in a heated argument. Guaranteed!
Tip 3. Set Clear Expectations
Although most tweens and teens like when we are involved in their lives, they also need clear expectations. Have a conversation about how you feel when she respects you and doesn’t talk back at you versus when she chooses to do the opposite. It’s okay to let her know that she hurt your feelings and address these emotions. Nonetheless, focus the conversation on the behaviour you want to see in your child and be clear about your expectations. Start with something like this:
“Honey, now that you’re getting older, we might disagree in a few things. Disagreeing with each other is okay. What’s not okay is talking back or disrespecting me when you do. I’m expecting that, when you disagree with me, you’ll let me know in a respectful way. Instead of talking back or yelling at me when we disagree, let’s have a conversation about it. We can even wait until we’re calm to go over it.”
Provide the motivation and encouragement your tween or teen needs to own the expectations you’re setting for them. As your child begins to understand the expectations you’ve set for them, they’ll be willing to listen and more open to your guidance.
Raising a healthy child isn’t easy. I know, I’m a mom too! We have to keep in mind that we’re our children’s role models. They imitate what we say and do. If we raise our voices during a disagreement, they’ll likely raise their voices in response. It takes two to tango just as it takes two to engage in a heated argument. Next time your tween or teen is gathering ammunition to fight the greatest battle of Emotional Armageddon, take a step back, breath deeply and do your best to stay calm and in control. Finally, if your child’s mood swings become more intense in late adolescence or out of control, it’s okay to seek professional help. At the end of the day, moms don’t quit!
About the Author
Dr. Yanina is a psychologist, mindful parenting author, speaker and blogger. Among various projects, she helps parents communicate, stay connected, discipline and raise confident, independent pre-teen and teenager children. She is also the host of Parenting HACKS with Dr. Yanina, a YouTube show where she provides practical advice for today’s busy moms. Dr. Yanina is a mom of a teen daughter and son. For tips and ideas on how to have a stronger and healthier relationship with your tween or teen, check out Dr. Yanina’s book MOMS DON’T QUIT! How to Influence, Empower and Stay Connected with Your Tween or Teen in a Noisy World!
For more parenting resources, connect at http://www.DrYaninaGomez.com