Causes of Teen Mood Swings and How to Deal with Them

Have you ever wondered how to deal with teen mood swings? We'll give you some keys to understand this new period they're experiencing in the following article.
Causes of Teen Mood Swings and How to Deal with Them
Bernardo Peña

Written and verified by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Teen mood swings are a logical consequence of the intense changes that young people undergo during this period. All of them influence their emotional and psychological development.

Most parents are afraid of this stage of emotional instability in their “young adult.” Indeed, adolescence is considered one of the stages with the highest level of stress for parents. It can also be a fascinating experience for both parents and children, however, especially if they have the necessary tools with which to cope and understand it.

The causes of teen mood swings

First of all, adolescence is a life phase during which the processes of physical, mental, and sexual maturation begin. Indeed, these changes give them a new view of their family and social environments, which can cause mood swings during this time.

In general, the changes cause anxiety, wonder, fear, or even anguish in young people. The process can be made easier if both children and their parents learn what they can about the challenges they’ll be faced with down the road.

Apathy is one of the common mood swings during adolescence.

Physical changes cause teen mood swings

During puberty, more body hair starts to form and secondary sexual characteristics appear, among others. Boys undergo a change in voice, the development of their testicles, and their first ejaculations. For girls, the breasts grow and they experience their first periods, among other things.

According to a study carried out by a team at the Hospital de Móstoles (Madrid), it’s in this phase that bodily self-awareness occurs, along with attraction and even sexual arousal. For that reason, physical appearance and self-image become very important issues to your children.

In fact, this is the phase where appearance, reputation, and the circle of friends begin to take on major importance, even more than the family.

Cognitive changes cause teen mood swings

Another fundamental aspect of identity formation is the development of abstract thought or the things that they cannot see or touch. In fact, their ability to reason allows them to solve problems by considering multiple points of view and even anticipating the consequences of their actions and those of others.

This is very important because reasoning helps them coexist with their parents and members of society in general. Reasoning also helps them better understand the social norms that they should play in every situation.

Changes in behavior

The search for freedom is constant in adolescence. While thinking like an adult but lacking their own experiences, however, they must still operate within certain limitations. This is precisely the point where conflict between parents and their children usually arises.

Children usually reflect their internal chaos by either not taking care of themselves or worrying too much about their appearance. In addition, they spend more hours asleep. This is due to the greater need for psychological rest after all the energy and hormonal expenditures. It’s important to be understanding of this.

How to help a teen

In this report conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, the authors state there are some great parenting qualities that parents can use to successfully overcome mood swings during adolescence.

1. Strengthen your bonds from early childhood

Adolescent children still need the same amount of love and attention as before. That’s why it’s so important that you create a good relationship with them from childhood, so they know you can guide them.

It’s important to remember that the relationship you had with your child when they were young will never be the same. But this transformation can be very constructive and happy.

2. Show them, love

Parents form a very special bond as loving figures with a genuine interest in their child. It’s through your example that they learn to love and care for other people.

Remember that in spite of their indifference, harsh words, or criticism toward you or their teachers, young people need love, understanding, and acceptance. It will be easier to deal with their mood swings in this environment.

3. Give them support

One very important thing for teenagers is that they feel like they can count on their parents. They need you to acknowledge their efforts and achievements, but it’s more than that.

They also need to reinforce their identity. As a parent, you’ll be the best person to encourage them to believe in themselves and achieve their goals.

4. Setting boundaries helps with teen mood swings

Setting rules and standards are essential for your children to feel emotionally secure. These can also become an excellent tool to help supervise them and add structure to their lives.

You should be careful not to become an authoritarian parent, however, by imposing rules that are either too strict or too lenient and permissive. It’s better to be balanced and set clear boundaries with good explanations.

So, Is Your Child Spoiled?

A girl sulking because of mood swings during adolescence.

5. Set a good example

As we said above, during adolescence your child’s reasoning skills will flourish. They will observe what you say and do. Try to be consistent in your actions and with what you want to instill in your child. Remember that you’re their first reference in their search for an identity.

Show them respect

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that teenagers need respect. So, recognize their autonomy even though their preferences may not be the same as yours. This is fundamental.

Try to understand their points of view, along with their feelings and needs. At the end of the day, they’re becoming adults and are going through a process of adaptation and learning.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.