For parents who deal with moody teenagers, a new study published in the journal Child Development offers positive news: adolescents eventually grow out of their emotional mood swings.
For the study, a team of Dutch researchers followed 474 Dutch teens starting at the age of 13. Approximately 40% of participants were considered to be at a high risk of aggression or delinquency at age 12.
Each year, for three weeks during the school term, participants rated their daily moods in terms of anger, anxiety, sadness, and happiness.
The researchers focused on fluctuations in day-to-day mood changes over a five-year period and discovered that most teenagers get less moody as they grow up. Furthermore, girls show more mood swings in happiness and sadness and both boys and girls show similar changes in their mood swings throughout adolescence.
Although what caused the mood fluctuations was not mentioned in the study, study leader Dominique Maciejewski, a doctoral student at Vrije Universiteit (VU) University Amsterdam, says a number of factors, including hormonal or brain changes, could explain them:
“…there are studies that indicate that cognitive control systems lag behind the development of emotional systems during that time, which makes adolescents hypervigilant to emotional cues but does not provide them with enough cognitive capacities to suppress their emotional reactions,” notes Maciejewski.
Maciejewski adds that social factors that coincide with puberty could trigger fluctuations in both positive and negative emotions. The factors include conflicts with parents, transitioning to high school, a first romantic relationship, and peer relationships.
Clinical psychologist Gilda Moreno believes that some moodiness is caused by an individual’s temperament, suggesting that some teens are calmer than others.
“People are born with personality and temperament,” notes Moreno.
Further, since girls were more inclined to report both happy and sad emotions than boys, this may reflect that girls have a greater tendency to express their feelings, note researchers. Moreno speculates, “Boys might have had the same ups and downs, but not talked about it as much.”
Moreno offered a number of strategies parents could use to keep calm through the ups and downs of adolescence. For example, if a teen is rude and disrespectful, step away and avoid any further conversation until they are respectful.
“It is best to listen carefully to their expressions of anger, fear, and disappointment,” she says. “Staying in touch by exchanging and discussing experiences will help their teen not to drift away from contact with the parent, and at the same time help the teen to quietly think about the reasons and solutions for their mood changes.”
Source for Today’s Article:
Doheny, K., “Relax, Parents, Your Teen’s Moodiness Should Subside, Study Finds,” MedicineNet.com, October 15, 2015; http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=191241.