Parents of teenagers must pay attention to a whole host of new issues that weren’t present just a few years earlier. Not only has your teen gone through growth spurts, changes in hormones, the discovery of the opposite sex and the temptation of drugs, your teen and you as a parent have to deal with the ever-present mood swing.
Mood swings are when your teen’s feelings fluctuate between euphoria and depression. As a parent of a teen, you have probably seen your child ecstatic one moment and crying the next. With extreme mood swings, there is no in between and moderate behavior may be almost completely nonexistent. When will this end?
A Teenage Brain
First, we must look at what a teen’s brain is doing developmentally. A teenager’s brain, especially the pre-frontal cortex, is still undergoing major growth. This area of the brain is responsible for a teen’s judgment, self-control and planning. The lack of completed development is evident in a teen’s risk-taking behavior. Or, you might remember a time when you’ve asked your teen why he did something, such as eat the lasagna you made for dinner, and he didn’t have a good answer. That is his lack of judgment showing.
So this is good news because eventually, your teen will mature; however, the bad news is there isn’t much you can do for mood swings in a teenager, except tolerate it. As a parent, you also need to know when your teen’s mood swings aren’t normal.
Clues Mood Swings are Something More
- Depression that persists for more than two weeks and is disabling
- Casual comments or queries about suicide
- Destructive or aggressive behavior. It is important to set limits but also teach your teen anger management skills
- Eating disorders such as teen bulimia and anorexia. Watch your teen for extreme fluctuations in weight.
- Alcohol and drug abuse