photo of a teenage boy sitting on a couch who looks angry

Tips for Parenting Your Moody Teenager

Most teenagers defy analysis. They’re an unpredictable bundle of peer pressure, hormones, and energy. Thus, if your teen starts getting moody, you may not even flinch. To you, it’s just the latest of an endless parade of new personas. But then this moody thing sticks around longer than expected. Are they depressed? Could they be keeping a secret from you? Is there a valid reason to be concerned and perhaps seek help?

Before hitting the panic button, a good move would be to learn more about teens. Why are they moody and when could it be a sign of something bigger?

Tips for Parenting Your Moody Teenager (part 1)

A few big but common possible reasons your teen is moody.

Hormones

It would be too easy to chalk everything up to hormones but you sure can’t ignore this factor. The amount of changes your teen is going through is enormous. So, get informed about that process and share what you learn with your child.

A Need For Independence

Our teenage years are pivotal. We’re becoming adults but can typically still lean on the family to do some of the heavy lifting. Your teen craves freedom and that is a confusing feeling.

Lack of Self-Care

Teens will rebel against anything. Sometimes, that includes taking care of themselves. Who needs sleep, exercise, or healthy food, right? As a result, your teen’s moods can be at the mercy of erratic choices — plus genuine overload. Most teens are sleep-deprived, choose snacks over nutrients, and (except for athletes) neglect the mood-enhancing properties of physical fitness.

photo of a teenage boy sitting on a couch who looks angryTips for Parenting Your Moody Teenager (part 2)

Some steps you can take:

Give Them Space

This is a balancing act, for sure. Your child’s mood may improve if they’re allowed space and privacy. The trick is to do so in a way that feels reasonable and safe.

Don’t Take it Personally

It may feel like it’s about you but it’s probably not. Yet again, you have a balancing act on your hands. You must be able to shrug off some of their moodiness but not enable rude, inappropriate behavior as the norm. That said, teenage mood swings are almost always far more about them than you (or anyone else).

Keep the Peace

As the adult in the room, the onus is on you to be a role model of calmness. When your teen displays petulance or frustration, choose our battles. Not everything has to be addressed urgently. It can be far more productive to return to the issue when caller heads can prevail.

Connect With Other Parents of Teens

What a comfort it is to talk with someone who “gets” it. You can help each other and take solace in knowing you’re not alone. Also, from conversations with those parents, you can better gauge your teen’s behavior and get alerted to possible red flags.

Watch For Red Flags

Teenage moodiness, in some cases, can be a sign that your child is struggling. They don’t understand what’s going on and don’t know how to talk about it. Hence, they act out in ways that might not make sense to them. Chronic moodiness can be a sign of some serious mental distress — from depression to anxiety and beyond. You don’t have to leap to this conclusion but if your child goes from moody to anti-social, you should ask for help.

In a therapy setting, a teenager can feel safe talking about their emotions. They have privacy and are being taken seriously by an adult. This adds up to a powerful combination that can better pinpoint the root causes of mood swings. If your teen has you concerned, I invite you to reach out and talk.

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