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Tips for Parents: Managing Mood Changes in Teenagers

365体育投注平台Mood fluctuations or “mood swings” are a common and normal aspect of adolescence. The exact cause of these mood swings is disputed, but it is generally accepted that the hormonal changes associated with the teenage years will result in mood fluctuations. An adolescent’s challenge to develop a sense of identity and independence during this phase of growing up is also a factor. Of course, every individual will have their own challenges to face during this period, including exams, family issues, school factors, friendship issues, and so on.

Many adolescents attend therapy with me as they are struggling to regulate or manage their emotions; particularly irritation and anger. It is one of the most common reasons children and teenagers attend Psychological Therapy. Usually, it is helpful for the young person to have a space to reflect on the exact causes of their difficulties, as well as to learn useful strategies for managing their emotions in a more appropriate manner. This is the exact aim of therapy in these cases – however, there are things that adults can be aware of too.

Consider When and How

When exactly did the mood swings become a significant problem, or when were they noticed most clearly? Was there anything else happening during this period? Sometimes adolescent mood swings can be directly related to other events or issues in their lives, and addressing these can positively influence their ability to manage their moods, as well as their psychological well-being overall.

How Do Others Behave?

As a parent, reflect on how you behave when you are angry or distressed. Do you sulk and withdraw, ignore people around you, or do you fly off the handle? Children and teenagers often learn emotion regulation skills directly from their parents and siblings. The best thing to do in this instance is to demonstrate positive ways of managing difficult emotions – talk about when you are feeling distressed or angry and why, what others can do to help, and model appropriate ways of calming down or expressing the emotion. For example, specifically stating that you are going for a short walk or taking ‘time out’ to calm down before returning to the room.

It’s the Behaviour, Not the Emotion

When supporting teenagers with emotion regulation difficulties, it is essential to be aware of the difference between emotions and behaviours. For instance, it is fine to be extremely angry or upset about something (i.e. – the emotion can and should be accepted). However, it is not acceptable to smash items or to punch others because we are angry. Distinguish between the two and directly outline that the behaviour, and not the emotion, was out of order. This helps adolescents to learn that emotions, however difficult, are accepted when they are processed and expressed appropriately.

Social Media

365体育投注平台We are well aware that teenagers now face a number of additional pressures and stresses compared to previous generations. Social media use is a major influence on this. Many children and teenagers essentially do not leave the school setting when they return home for the evening, as their entire school community is connected with them through social media. Consider how much your adolescent is using social media, which platforms they are using and how they are interacting with others – it may appear a little intrusive, but it is important for parents to be aware of social media and how it influences their children.

Additional Factors

Think about your teenager’s week – how early are they getting up for school, how far do they travel, what extracurricular activities are they engaging in and what are they spending their free time doing. Are they eating and sleeping well, and are they getting enough downtime? Teenage life in the UAE365体育投注平台 often involves numerous extracurricular activities outside the classroom. A hectic week can take its toll on most of us, and adolescents are no exception. It is essential to reflect on work-life balance and encourage your teenager to improve this where necessary. Are your children engaged in activities because they enjoy them and want to be engaged in them, or because it pleases adults around them? This is an important but difficult question for many parents to answer.

When Extra Help is Needed

If a teenager has been presenting consistently negative moods or has lost interest in activities that were previously enjoyed, it is time to seek extra help. Visit your GP or a Psychologist for advice and support and to consider what is likely to help moving forward. Always involve your adolescent in this process – explain why you are concerned, the reasons you are seeking extra support and involve your teen when deciding who they will visit for support.

About the Author

(BSc PgDip DClinPsy) is an Irish Clinical Psychologist who has lived and practiced in Dubai for the last four years. He completed his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at University College London (UCL) and holds additional specialist training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), one of the most common treatments for mental health and emotional difficulties. 

specialises in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of difficulties related to childhood and adolescence. This includes Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD and Specific Learning Disorders, as well as conditions such as anxiety, low mood, emotion regulation problems, exam stress, OCD and panic attacks. Since moving to the UAE, Dr. Paul has also been qualified as a Clinical Director within the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes initiative, providing voluntary services to People of Determination within the UAE. He is based at Dubai Community Health Centre and is offering free Initial Consultation appointments to anyone who mentions EdArabia when they contact the centre. 

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