Adolescents almost all go through a period of moodiness–this is a normal part of development and for the majority of teens it will pass after a couple of years. Mood changes result from increased production of sex hormones during puberty. Changes also occur due to brain growth and social and environmental factors that your teen will encounter as he or she develops into an adult.
Children become more self-aware as teenagers, and during this time they take action to assert their independence on their path to adulthood. Teens will test limits and they may not want to discuss things with you that they were comfortable discussing in the past. They can also be argumentative and confrontational.
You can give your teen space to grow and to be more independent while at the same time maintaining mutual respect at home. A good way to do this is to set boundaries and standards for communication, and to involve your teen in the conversation. By coming to a mutual agreement on what constitutes respectful interaction, you can validate your teen’s newfound sense of maturity. Your teen is also more likely to follow the rules you set together versus rules you set independently.
Dealing with a moody teenager can be frustrating, and at times you will want to argue. You have every right to disagree with your teen, but when doing so it is much better to remain calm than to raise your voice. Arguments can quickly escalate and become counterproductive. Use your actions and words to be a role model, and you’ll set a positive example for your son or daughter.
Also, be aware that what you consider moodiness may be more than that. Persistent, marked changes in your teen’s behavior could be symptoms of depression, which can require professional intervention. 1 in 5 children experience depression during their teenage years, but because the signs of depression in teens can be confused with moodiness, about 50% of teens go undiagnosed.
Signs of depression in teens include significant changes in eating or sleep patterns, problems in school, low mood and self esteem, acting out, aggression, and substance abuse. In severe cases your teen may have suicidal thoughts. If you observe symptoms of depression in your teen it is important to talk to your pediatrician sooner rather than later, especially if your son or daughter is having thoughts of hurting him or herself.
BeWell staff members are also here to help and to provide support. They can give additional advice on dealing with teens, and can connect you to counseling or medical care for your son or daughter if you do not have a regular pediatrician.
Parents of other teenagers and people who work with adolescents on a regular basis, such as your teen’s guidance counselor, are also valuable resources. You can work with parents to navigate difficult situations and also go to them for support and suggestions that may be helpful at home. At the end of the day, being proactive and using the resources available to you is the key to helping your teen develop into a healthy adult, and to keeping yourself sane in the process. With the right support you can make sure both you and your teen are on a good path for the future.
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