Teen Mood Swings
Parents have been navigating teen mood swings since the creation of man. Generations of moms have been plagued by the hormonal roller coaster of their teens’ meltdowns. I’m no exception.
Many have heard me share about navigating my adopted son’s volatile behaviors.
It was our family’s brutal journey with him that led me to a life completely shattered. And then God rebuilding me into a completely different parent and teacher.
My tween and teen girls- Lots of teen mood swings
However, it is not only my son who needs support with his mood swings.
Like generations of girls before her, my oldest daughter eventually morphed into a young lady. While she is generally a very respectful girl, she is still a teen.
Hormones come with the territory. We adult women suffer from the occasional hormonal rage.
Mom mood swings are real. Yikes!! Am I right?
So understandably, my girl and her younger sister experience teen mood swings and meltdowns every once in awhile.
No big deal. Right?
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Mexican food and Moods
Let me share a story with you. About a year ago, I took my girls out on a dinner date. Of course, we all agreed on Mexican. Who doesn’t love chips and salsa?
The date was supposed to be just my middle daughter and me. However, at the last minute my oldest begged to join us. Middle graciously agreed that Big Sis could tag along on our date night.
Fast forward about an hour. We had enjoyed our chips, salsa, queso, nachos and a burrito. (I have to clarify that we shared. Just sayin.)
Lots of silly conversations. It was a success… Until…It wasn’t.
Teen Moodiness to Meltdowns in 30 Seconds Flat
In what seemed like a thirty second window of time, my oldest daughter shifted. She was suddenly sucked into the cyclone of teen mood swings.
Her face changed… she was no longer laughing at my stories about how Aunty Jamie used to be obsessed with Davy Jones from The Monkees…
“Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees!”
“Daydream believer and a homecoming queen…”
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Nobody cares?
Ok… apparently my cousins, my sisters and I had strange taste in entertainment. We still had tons of fun growing up.
Back to the story. My girls had been asking questions about my life as a kid and we were having fun and laughing. So it took me off guard when my oldest suddenly shut down.
Teen Attitude and Complaining
We were chomping down on our chips and salsa when she began complaining about “being full” and wanting me to drive her home. I asked her what was wrong.
Classic teen response,
Pushing her further, (I knew she wasn’t telling me the truth), she responded with,
“I’m just tired.”
Mom Mindset & Mood Swings
‘Oh! That’s how she is going to play it. Great!’
Frustration was beginning to creep up as the possibilities ran through my head. My initial reaction was to become a little P.O.ed at her.
See the shift? I am just as guilty of my own meltdowns when things don’t go my way. That’s for another post.
‘Great! After she begged her little sister to jump in on our scheduled date night… she gets what she wanted. She got her yummy Mexican food and now she is done with us.’
Let’s be real… teens do have a knack for being just a little ego-centric. I couldn’t have been that off in my assessment of her new shift in attitude. Right?
Disappointment started to rise up in me. Deep down I feared that my daughter’s mood swing might possibly ruin her sister’s date night. And we all know how desperately we mommas try to keep everyone happy. For more on how to deal with sibling rivalry, listen to Episode 27.
My Teen’s Moodiness Was No Excuse For Mine
As the adult I had to make a decision. My initial impulse was to lay into her about ruining her little sister’s date time and being a bit selfish.
But I didn’t. Not this time.
In the past, I likely would have pointed out her self-centered motives, her attitude and mood swing. My oldest errs on the side of taking too much responsibility for others’ reactions and responses.
Because of this, she would have likely shut down and apologized profusely before I finished even speaking. Sadly, that typical response would have likely satisfied me at one point in time.
I mean, who doesn’t appreciate it when anyone takes responsibility for their actions?
Our Kids Shouldn’t Always Apologize
An apology would have been a satisfactory response. Not always.
In this case, I could have slammed a door on our relationship. Even if just temporarily. Fortunately, this is not how the interaction went down. Praise God!
By God’s mercy, I have learned a lot over these past several years navigating my son. God has taught me so much more than just how to handle a special needs kid meltdown.
I’ve learned how to navigate relational conflict. Period.
Teen Mood Swings as Information
My daughter was having her own version of a meltdown. I know what to do when one of my cubs has a meltdown.
No, it wasn’t a drop-down kicking and screaming meltdown that the whole restaurant was privy to. However, it was my teenage daughter’s (lite) version.
So I made a mental pivot from the perspective that told me she was being willfully selfish. My mind had to drop the deep-rooted belief that all outward behavior is willful and intentionally ugly.
Fortunately, my mindset shift opened my eyes to see so much more behind the behavior. I thought to myself,
“Something just happened. She had a thought or something just came to mind and she is responding. Let me investigate.”
4 Steps to look Behind the Behavior: My Teen’s Meltdown
The reality is this. After all the drama and the hell we went through with our son, God has allowed me to completely reframe my parenting.
Ultimately, this has impacted my response to outward behavior. In my parenting course , Barely Surviving To Outright Thriving, I dive deeply into how to use the four steps.
It started with my son when he was throwing meltdowns and tantrums. In that moment with my girl I realized that is exactly what I needed to do with her. So, here goes.
4 Steps To Discipline Teens Effectively
Step 1: Relationship
I looked directly at my girly and made eye contact.
Step 2: Provide Emotional Vocabulary & Reflect
“Hey, What happened, Sweet Girl? You went from happy and laughing to ‘shut down’. What are you thinking? You look like you are feeling sad.”
Step 3: Provide Physical Input
I rocked her in my arms like a baby. No. That totally did not happen.
Step 4: Shift Attention & Distract
No. Didn’t have to do this one either.
In a nutshell, I walked through steps 1 and 2. I connected with her through relationship. Then I offered her an emotional vocabulary and reflected back what I saw. Suddenly, everything changed.
Her defensive wall of perceived teenage mood swing crumbled almost immediately. My girl opened up to us.
“I just heard a song that reminded me of Grandma,”
She managed to confess as she held back tears. Mom had passed suddenly about 9 months prior. My girl had been struggling terribly with her grief.
Her sudden change of mood had nothing to do with selfishly “using” her sister and me for Mexican food. My perception of her shift in attitude was actually sadness.
Traditional Parenting & Discipline Often Destroys
Had I engaged her through a more traditional lens, I’d have blown it big time.
The reality is that traditional forms of parenting (and edcuating) children tend to view “unacceptable” behaviors as problems to be eradicated. Outward behavior is seen as the be all end all. This sets up parents and educators to view success as the child who holds it together on the outside.
Had I approached her that way, I’d have missed out on an opportunity to be a safe place for my girl. It could’ve been a lost opportunity to be her trusted ally who ultimately points her to Jesus.
Praise the Lord that I didn’t jump to conclusions… at least that time. (I’m a work in progress.)
Meltdowns Don’t Cease Simply Because We Age
The reality is that we all have meltdowns… ALL.OF.US. Adults and children alike. Adults lose it all the time.
Grown-up meltdowns simply “look” different from teen and toddler meltdowns. Hopefully? Maybe? We moms blow it daily, right?
Have you snapped at your child or hubby because you have reached the end of your rope? I know I do. It’s called an adult temper tantrum. There is no judgement in this. We are all just human beings living in a broken world.
Meltdowns simply appear differently depending upon the variables. We will all have tantrums and mood swings until the day we die. However, there is incredible grace for us all.
Barely Suriving? Here’s What To Do!
Whether a toddler tantrum, an elementary-age explosion, or a teen mood swing, we need to offer grace. We moms can choose to equip our children to work through the thughts and feelings that lead to those tough behaviors.
Then we can watch them smile and say, “Thank you, Mom.”
Eventually. Hopefully? Be encouraged, Mom Friend. Join the 5 Day Devotional For the Christian Momma. Toddler to teen. Learn about:
- Executive Functioning
- God’s Design of the Brain
- How The Gospel Points Us To A Radically Different Approach To Parenting,
- & More!
Or if you are exhausted by the daily stress of meltdowns, disobedience, and downright exhuastion, check out my new parenting course. Barely Surviving to Outright Thriving, will equip you to experience freedom and joy in your family again.
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