Baton Rouge Parents Magazine

In the Mood PDF Print E-mail

Deep_in_thoughtHold on! Before you start humming the popular Glenn Miller version, I’m talking about those pesky mood swings our teenagers are infamous for, not the song our grandparents used to “swing” to. Parents with teenagers know exactly where I’m coming from. One minute she’s in a fabulous mood. The next, she’s Cruella D’Evil with a hangover.

Hold your breath.

These are the times you need to find your sense of humor and a beeline to your cabinet that stores the herbal tea.


Why the drama?

“Is this fit you’re having really necessary?” Lately, I find myself asking this more often than I want to. So, why the sudden change in mood with teenagers? Better yet, why so often?

Many experts say it’s normal for teens to have mood swings. We’re told we can blame them on those nasty things called “hormones.” Robin F. Goodman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who is currently Director of A Caring Hand, The Billy Esposito Foundation Bereavement Center and a consultant to Allegheny General Hospital’s Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents, reports, “Hormones do play a part in moodiness.” She adds, “In the teen years there is a perfect storm of Laughing_physiologic, social, academic, family and developmental challenges. It’s a tough time for navigating the many choices and social pressures out there which can create a great deal of stress.” In addition, teens are also moving away from family and parents as their main source of support as they try to solidify their identity. Goodman explains that, along with the many social and physical changes teens are coping with, many teens are also dealing with academic expectations and pressures due to the college search process (admissions, standardized testing, etc.). All of this can wreak havoc on your teen’s mood.

Goodman suggests that parents talk “with” not “at” their teens. She advises, “Keep in mind that teens want to feel heard and understood—not lectured to—especially if they’re having trouble.”  She says parents shouldn’t minimize their teen’s feelings by saying things like “it will get better.”  She also reminds parents that limits are good even when your teen resists them. Limits will help keep your teen grounded.


Time to worry...or walk away?

My daughter is full of extremes. She is either an excited chatter box or she’s down in the dumps and refuses to tell me about her day. I’ve learned to give her space if she comes home from school in a dumpy mood. I wait a while before trying to speak with her about what’s going on. Oftentimes, if I don’t barrage her with questions, she’ll eventually want to discuss what’s bothering her because she won’t be able to hold it in any longer.

Goodman suggests, “If your teen is really having a hard time opening up, you can also remember to engage in non-talk activities. Just being together, driving places and doing things, takes the pressure off of talking about what may be going on. Instead, conversation can evolve more naturally.

Stressed_outThere are times, however, when parents should not assume that the latest drama is a typical teen mood swing. Goodman tells parents to rely on their instincts. “Parents have a history with their teens. If they are worried, there is a good chance that there’s something of concern.” She instructs parents to pay attention to signs of real difficulty.

She states that, in general, if a teen’s mood is interfering with functioning at school, with friends, and with family, parents need to get to the bottom of what is going on.
On the other hand, if you sense that your teen is just going through her typical ups and downs, no need to fret. After all, you made it through those “terrible two” tantrums fairly unscathed. This too shall pass.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 10 January 2012 13:13 )

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