How to Help Your Teen Control Mood Swings

Anxious girl laying on sofa

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Teens are new to the surge of emotions that come with changing hormones during puberty. Dealing with the mood swings can be overwhelming and some teens handle it better than others. As a parent, the challenge is knowing how you can help your teen control their emotions and teach them to work through the roller coaster in a healthy way.


Luckily, adults can relate to these ups and downs. We've all been there and made it through one mood swing after another. It didn't stop when we were teens, either. Even adults take steps to prevent emotional flare-ups caused by hormones. That is why there is medication for PMS. Women deal with mood swings throughout their life and teenage girls are just getting started.

Boys are not immune either. Their bodies are also changing and hormones will affect their mood as well. There is even a hormone that calms adults but causes teens to feel stress and that one has no gender bias. Mood swings are a natural part of growing up and here are a few tips you can help your teen work through them.

Recognize What Is Happening

Do not be too busy that you aren’t looking at the situation correctly and instead go directly into 'discipline mode.' Know that it is not just your child misbehaving or acting out, this is normal for teenagers. It isn’t easy to deal with bad or sad feelings when you can’t figure out what is wrong. This is new for them and they haven't learned how to recognize or deal with these emotions.

Talk About It

Encourage your teen to identify these new feelings. Help your teenager recognize the signs of their bad moods, so they know what is happening. Point out that if they don't know why they're sad or angry, it's okay and the feeling will pass. Let them know that they are not alone, this happens to most people.

Teach Coping Skills

Everyone needs to learn how to cope with emotions. Over the years, we learn what triggers our anger or sadness and figure out ways to control that so we can function. Teens don't know how to do that yet, it is something they need to learn.

When the situation is calm, role play through a few scenarios. Show them how to count back from 10 until they calm down or the positive effects that going for a walk or listening to music can have. Model these healthy behaviors when you are in a bad mood. It is not only good for your own health but is an example for your teen.

Support a Healthy Lifestyle

The most basic elements of a healthy life can do a lot for improving everyone's mood. You can create a happier family by supporting healthy habits in your home.

Find a Healthy Distraction

Encourage your teen to take preventative steps through creativity or an activity that interests them. Distractions are great for taking your teen's mind off their sadness and stress. Hobbies are a perfect way to keep your teen's mood on an even keel. It will teach them more coping skills and resilience and channel that negative energy into something positive. Anything can become a hobby and it may be something they enjoy for a lifetime.

Give Them Space

There are times in life when we all need a little space and your teen's mood swings are the perfect example. If they need a good cry or to pace around the room, give them the privacy to do it. Offer comfort and let your teen know you are there if they need to talk.

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  1. Rubinow DR, Schmidt PJ. Sex differences and the neurobiology of affective disordersNeuropsychopharmacology. 2019;44(1):111–128. doi:10.1038/s41386-018-0148-z