A child’s social and emotional development will take a major leap during their teenage years. It is beneficial to know what to anticipate and how to support them through the changes. So, why are teenagers more susceptible to changing emotions? Read this article to find out.
Teenagers can be very grumpy beings. They can go from being in a happy mood to being in a terrible one in just a matter of seconds, as if they were on an emotional roller coaster. Many parents struggle to comprehend and deal with their grumpy kids and the nature of their unstable behavior.
Adolescence or teenage is the transition from childhood to adulthood. It begins when the child reaches puberty and concludes when they are relatively independent of their parents. During this time, teenagers are frequently described as temperamental, furious, emotional, reckless, impetuous, selfish, hasty, and foolish.
As it turns out, there are some valid causes for your teen’s moodiness, and while hormonal fluctuations play a big role, they are not the primary culprit. So why are teenagers more susceptible to changing emotions? If you want to know the reason for teenage behavior and how to help teens cope with emotional changes, then give this article a good read as we share some facts and tips.
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What do you need to know about teenage moods?
Teenagers have a reputation for mood swings, being on top of the world in the morning, depressed around lunchtime, and angry in the evening. You will always be surprised to find out what version of your teenage kid is going to show up in your kitchen on any given morning.
Depending on their hair, the weather, the tides of social media, and their level of satisfaction with their outfit, you can expect to see happy, cheerful, grumpy, anxious, and edgy; it might seem like you have different people of different personalities sitting at your breakfast table. Such is the unpredictability of teenage mood swings.
But you, as a parent, need to understand your child’s behavior. For one thing, you were once a teenager too. For another, you, as an adult, have probably also climbed aboard the mood-swing rollercoaster many times yourself.
It might seem complicated for you to manage, but it is part of the package deal of life with older kids. But you wouldn’t be doing your job as a parent if you didn’t figure out how to navigate these choppy emotional waters so that you can help your teenager learn how to steer through them, too. If you are left with your head scratching at your child’s changing moods, then read on further to dissect why teenagers are more susceptible to changing emotions and how you can help them.
A small disclaimer is that we want to be very clear that we are talking about typical teenage mood swings, not about much more severe anxiety or depression or other illnesses that require intensive attention and specialized treatment. (Our heart truly goes out to parents fighting those battles on behalf of the teens they love so much.)
Why are teenagers more susceptible to changing emotions?
The teenage years are frequently described as a “risky” period of our lives. For years, the news has been dominated by dire warnings for teenagers about unsafe driving and careless decisions related to alcohol or drugs.
While some of these warnings and descriptions are based on brain research, focusing just on risky conduct might limit and flatten our knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of young people and deter us from the actual question of “why are teenagers more susceptible to changing emotions?”. To help them cope with this time of confusion and assist them in becoming better and stable adults, we will need to go through both in detail.
It turns out that changes in the adolescent brain function as both a superpower and a kryptonite regarding mental health. In fact, adolescence is a time when the executive center of the brain is in the process of construction. Executive function abilities such as assessing the consequences (thus the focus on risky actions), impulse control, perspective taking, emotional regulation, and coping may be more difficult to master during this phase of restructuring.
All of this takes place simultaneously, with the brain’s emotional centers going into overdrive. Teenagers are consequently more vulnerable to powerful feelings, incentives, dangers, and – yes – stress. By putting everything together, it makes sense that “normal stress” and more serious mental health issues could become more prevalent during adolescence.
Young people’s lives nowadays are undoubtedly filled with a variety of psychological, societal, and environmental stressors. According to researchers, teens are more susceptible to sadness and anxiety during adolescence than they are during childhood due to neurological changes. To help them lead a better life once they are out of this unstable phase, you’ll need to educate yourself; let’s look at why teenagers are more susceptible to changing emotions.
- Imbalanced brain development
- Perception of possible threats
- A reduction in the neurotransmitter dopamine
A youngster transitions from a child to a sexually mature adult during puberty. The easiest way to characterize adolescence is as an emotional roller coaster ride. Puberty starts with an increase in hormone production, which causes changes that have an impact on both the body and the mind.
The growth, development, and operation of the sex organs, bones, brain, and skin are all directly impacted by hormonal changes. They also increase libido, one of the main emotional catalysts of adolescence.
How do hormones trigger emotional changes?
Physical and sexual development are influenced by teen hormones. A hormone known as the gonadotropin-releasing hormone is released by the brain at the start of puberty (GnRH). Pituitary hormone (GnRH) stimulates the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) into the bloodstream from the pituitary gland, a small but important gland that regulates the production of numerous main hormones.
Estrogen is the main sex hormone in humans who are born as females. Testosterone is the main sex hormone for people who are born with the gender of a man. Guys and girls both generate the hormones known as androgens, albeit boys create more of these hormones overall. Growth hormones, estrogen, and dihydrotestosterone (DH) are other adolescent hormones that spur change and development.
Teenagers frequently change their temperaments and experience mood swings as a result of these hormonal changes. They frequently exaggerate their difficulties and have more powerful, varied emotions than kids or adults do.
Teenagers frequently experience mood swings, going from feeling like they are on top of the world to feeling depressed the next. These emotional shifts have an impact on their capacity to make wise life decisions as well as their academic achievement, appearance, and friend selections.
Imbalanced brain development
One point that stands out as an answer to the question, “why are teenagers more susceptible to changing emotions?” is the imbalance in brain development. In the past, many people believed that moody adolescence was caused by high hormone levels and undeveloped adolescent brains.
It seems like the teenage years are a period of brain weakness and inefficiency. A new scientific theory, however, has arisen in recent years that better explains why the human race is still alive despite the major behavioral change in our grumpy teenagers.
According to earlier research, the hormonal changes that lead to puberty start before the adolescent years. As a result, these hormones have an impact on mood and the growth of the body and brain well before the teen years.
There is no question that sex hormones can impact a person’s mood and conduct. Teenagers’ stronger emotions and shifts in mood stability are undoubtedly influenced by the rising hormone levels in their bodies.
But is the effect on these young people more severe than on adults or younger kids? There isn’t much proof to back up this assertion. Instead, accumulating research suggests that adolescent mood swings are caused by changes in the brain’s structure and function as well as hormone fluctuations.
Neuroscientists are now able to peer inside the developing brains of kids and teenagers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allows them to investigate brain activity.
According to their research, the main reason why teenagers are so moody is that various parts of the brain generate brain cells at varying speeds.
The limbic system (hypothalamus and amygdala) undergoes fast changes during early adolescence, increasing white matter, and decreasing gray matter. The frontal lobes (prefrontal cortex), the area of the brain in charge of judgment, impulse control, and self-regulation, grow later than these emotional response-focused brain regions.
Teenagers’ primitive brain response is amplified by the disparity in the rates of development of these two areas. Teenagers experience emotional changes that are quicker and more powerful than those of young adults or children.
Perception of possible threats
Due to the fact that prospective threats can also impair a teen’s capacity for self-control, parents’ angry reactions to their kids’ mood swings might contribute to unstable moods and behaviors.
From an evolutionary perspective, survival depends on the capacity to recognize danger. Teens, however, are more inclined to overreact to even slight signs of threat when the control center in the teenage brain is underdeveloped. Any parent of an adolescent can relate to the fact that kids’ moody behavior can be brought on by a small facial expression, a disapproving gaze, or even a worried glance.
A reduction in the neurotransmitter dopamine
One of the brain’s neurotransmitters, dopamine, regulates how much pleasure and suffering a person can feel. Extreme mood swings and trouble controlling emotions are also caused by a dopamine deficit that occurs during puberty. Those sad songs that your teen listens to and the weirdly depressive behavior your teen exhibits without any reason could be because of this dopamine deficit.
While the biological or bodily changes differ between men and women, the emotional and cognitive changes are similar. These changes also cause mood swings, which both adolescent boys and girls experience. In addition to a plethora of emotions, children have many concerns and uncertainties about who they are and what they are experiencing due to activities of the abovementioned factors influencing their bodies and emotions.
They are particularly vulnerable at this time and require all the assistance and direction that their parents and guardians can provide. It will not be easy, but it is critical for your adolescent to listen and be present when they need you in order to make the transition easier and less stressful for everyone.
What are the emotional changes teenagers go through?
While it is well-recognized that puberty causes many physical changes, it is also normal for young kids to undergo emotional changes at this time. Most emotional changes that occur during puberty manifest in a shift in behavior. It can be challenging for parents and teens to adjust to these changes in their looks and emotions. Read on further to understand what are the emotional changes that happen in the teenage years.
As a parent, you can make adolescence more enjoyable and less stressful for your child by understanding what they are going through and how you can assist them. The following is a list of emotional changes that your child is likely to go through during puberty.
- Changes that occur as a result of physical changes
- Mood swing – emotional outbursts, crying attacks, aggression
- Having an identity crisis
- They might start changing the way they handle relationships with family
- Feeling overly sensitive
- Teenagers might start feeling confused
- Conflicting thoughts
- Change in sexual attitudes and gender-specific behavior
- Getting caught up with peer pressure and the need to fit in
- May exhibit indecisive behavior
- They might start wanting to be alone
Changes that occur as a result of physical changes
The onset of puberty causes the body’s secondary sexual organs to develop. Outward changes such as the development of breasts and curves in girls and facial hair, a larger Adam’s apple, and a change in voice in boys are examples of these changes.
- Both boys and girls begin to gain weight and grow wider shoulders and stronger muscles.
- Girls begin menstruation and pubic hair growth, while boys’ penis and testicles become larger.
- One of the most major biological changes that occur throughout puberty is brain development.
- The amount of these modifications is also determined by the levels of secretion in their primary sexual organs. This means that some children may be tall for their age, others may have little or no facial hair, and others may develop more than they want.
- Pimples or acne are often a source of anxiety for youngsters going through puberty.
- Children who are sexually mature at a young age may be taunted or bullied at school.
Body changes can be confusing and frightening for a youngster, especially if they have no understanding of what is going on. Lack of awareness can lead to your children believing that something is wrong with them and make them feel uncomfortable. It gets worse when people avoid talking about it and begin to worry.
Mood swings – emotional outbursts, crying attacks, aggression
The first change that comes to mind when the question of what are the emotional changes teenagers go through arises is mood swings. Teenagers experience mood fluctuations on a regular basis. The tiny variations in their feelings and emotions are typically caused by hormonal changes in their bodies. Your teen may appear calm and sensible one moment and lose their cool the next.
Teenagers going through puberty are particularly vulnerable. They may be easily irritated, readily excited, and highly emotional. They may cry for hours over what appears to be a little matter and become overly thrilled about something that an adult may find irritating.
Teens experience a variety of emotions, including anger. So much so that it may seem like they sometimes despise you. Experiencing multiple emotions in a short period of time can be overpowering and confusing. This causes irritation and fury, which manifests itself as hostility and, in rare situations, violence.
In terms of the tremendous developmental changes that follow an emerging sense of self and self-identity, it can be beneficial to think of your teen as having a lot in common with a toddler. However, the adolescent may be taller than you. Physically hugging them to help them contain their strong emotions is no longer an option. However, they require the containment provided by your calm emotional presence and unambiguous limit establishing.
Having an identity crisis
One is neither a child nor an adult during adolescence. During puberty, children begin to feel and behave differently. They become aware of the changes taking place in their body. Girls, who normally mature more quickly than boys, are particularly affected by this.
Teenagers may have a tendency to compare their bodies to those of others and associate their own sense of self-worth with it. They make an effort to identify their preferences. Now is the time to explore and try new things in order to get to know oneself better and recognize what makes one special.
The urge to fit in also contributes to the endeavor to figure out who they are. They may think about whether they should hang out with individuals with whom they are most comfortable or with those with the most popular people in school. They have an inner debate about whether they should join the soccer squad or the math club.
They might start changing the way they handle relationships with family
Relationship dynamics shift quickly after puberty. Your child may begin to spend more time with his or her peers than with you. They may even be embarrassed to be seen in public with a parent. Friends may appear to be more important to your youngster than relatives. This is normal behavior and is part of the healthy separation process.
Family and friends are significant to adolescents. They desire parental direction and support, as well as the acceptance of their peers. As a result, forcing them to pick one over the other will not be helpful. It will increase their stress and might even turn the parent into a villain who wishes to exert control over them. At some point, they might begin to disagree with and reject what their parents say and do.
Feeling overly sensitive
Children become especially sensitive to certain things during puberty due to hormonal changes. Being rejected by a boy or girl can feel like the end of the world, and a small pimple or spot of acne on their face can look like a tremendous catastrophe. Worse, you no longer understand what triggers your adolescent’s anger. Additionally, this is the time when the teenager is most susceptible to being influenced by anything or anyone.
Teenagers might start feeling confused
When a youngster reaches puberty, they go through a number of new feelings and sensations. The changes in their body and their new feelings may make them feel uneasy and unsettled. If the issue is not addressed, your teenager can believe that something is wrong with them.
Teenagers fall in between children and adults. Teenagers frequently lack clarity on their place in the world and the position they ought to adopt as a result. They experience feelings like dread, insecurity, and helplessness similar to those of a child but also feel as though they shouldn’t because they are adults.
Decision-making problems are frequently caused by uncertainty. When kids get older, there are expectations for how they will act or behave. Also, responsible behavior is required of them. Confusion might also arise from the shift in expectations.
Change in sexual attitudes and gender-specific behavior
One of the most prominent emotional changes teenagers go through is changes in sexual attitudes. Children have sexual sensations because of the spike in sex hormones that occurs throughout puberty. Your youngster develops new emotions and perspectives as they approach sexual maturity.
Additionally, they might begin exhibiting gender-specific traits. For instance, your small girl might start exhibiting interest in fashion, cosmetics, and other feminine things, whereas your male might be more interested in high-energy pursuits like skating, sports, or biking. These, however, differ significantly according to personality attributes. Your child may be investigating their gender identity and sexual orientation.
Your kids’ perceptions of their peers who are the other sex may also change as they start to think about sexual relationships. When teenagers watch a romantic moment on TV, they could become aroused and become attracted to the other sex. At this period of development, your child can realize that if they are attracted sexually to others of the same sex.
Getting caught up with peer pressure and the need to fit in
Teenagers continually feel the need to fit in and are susceptible to peer pressure. Teenagers feel pressured to take any measure necessary to gain the approval of their friends, which motivates them to modify their appearance, speech, and social behavior. Sometimes, people trying to fit in may choose the incorrect road.
Because he or she will spend more time with friends than with you, your child’s behavior will be influenced. To be ‘cool,’ they could feel pressured to attempt new things like drinking and smoking or even taking drugs.
May exhibit indecisive behavior
Your teenager may occasionally experience a conflict of interest as a result of the uncertainty and confusion they are experiencing during this time of transition. For instance, your kid might want to exercise independence and go to the movies with friends rather than the child-like desire to go with the parents to a movie.
They might start wanting to be alone
Teenagers go through a transitional period during puberty and attempt to make their own decisions. Despite your best efforts to engage them in conversation and collaboration, they frequently want your respect for their privacy. This behavior is expected, but if your child is spending a lot of time by themselves, it may be a sign that they are having more difficulties than is usual for their developmental stage.
The above includes some of the changes in your teenager’s emotional behaviors. It’s quite necessary for you to identify these changes because, at this time, the only thing that can help them with their transition in the best way possible is their parents or guardians understanding them and what they are going through.
How to help teens cope with emotional changes?
The single most vital thing you can do to support your child during their adolescent years is to express your affection for them. The way their parents respond to them has a significant influence on how children feel about themselves. In order to assist their children in feeling confident in themselves, parents should do this.
- Build their confidence, and self-esteem
- Try and be a role model to them
- Be honest about your emotions
- Discuss dating, sex, and sexuality
- Find out who your child’s friends are
- Try focusing on the positive
- Don’t be judgemental
- Ensuring their security and safety
- Try giving positive feedback
Build their confidence and self-esteem
Be particular when praising them. Explain your admiration or pride for them in specific terms. Give them your time and let them know how much you appreciate them. This will reassure them that they are doing okay and there is nothing wrong with them as this transitional stage can make your child feel alone and unwanted thus, building their confidence can really help them a lot.
Try and be a role model to them
You can serve as an example of how to have a good relationship with your friends, kids, partner, and coworkers. Your child will pick up valuable lessons from partnerships that value empathy, respect, and constructive dispute resolution.
Additionally, you can serve as an example of how to handle disagreement and challenging emotions in a constructive way. For instance, there will be occasions when you feel irritable, exhausted, and unsociable. You may remark, “I’m weary and cross,” rather than withholding affection from your child or getting into a fight. I think I can’t speak right now without getting angry. Can we talk about this after dinner?
Be honest about your emotions
When your child acts in a certain way, express your feelings to them since this will teach them how to recognize and react to emotions. It also serves as an example of constructive and positive interpersonal interactions. Simply stating, “I was incredibly happy when you asked me to go to lunch with you,” will help.
Discuss dating, sex, and sexuality
It can help build trust between you and your child if you discuss relationships, sex, and sexuality with them in an open and nonjudgmental manner. However, rather than having a lengthy conversation, try to find casual occasions when you can bring up these topics.
Finding out what your child already understands can be helpful when these situations arise. Give the truth and correct any false information. You can use these discussions to discuss acceptable sexual behavior as well as issues like consent, sexting, and pornography. Furthermore, let your child know that you are always accessible to discuss any issues or problems they may have.
Find out who your child’s friends are
Teenagers can get influenced pretty easily, so it’s important you keep a check on your teenage friends. You may monitor your child’s social relationships by getting to know their friends and making them feel welcome in your home. Additionally, it demonstrates your understanding of the significance of your child’s friendships to his or her sense of self.
You might be able to direct your youngster toward alternative social groups if you’re worried about their buddies. The opposite outcome, though, may occur if you forbid friendship or criticize your child’s pals. In other words, your kid might want to hang out with the buddies you’ve forbidden even more.
Try focusing on the positive
There may be times when you and your child are in constant disagreement, or your youngster appears to be acting very moodily. During these periods, it can be beneficial to concentrate on and emphasize your child’s social and emotional development. You may compliment your kid for being a good friend, having a diverse range of hobbies, or making an effort in school, for instance.
Don’t be judgemental
One of the best things you can do when figuring out how to help teens cope with emotional changes is not to be judgemental towards them. Going through your teenage years is not easy. It’s the time when your kid goes through different styles and changes.
They will try to explore themselves in every way possible, even in ways that you might find undesirable. At this point, if you act negatively judgemental towards them, they might lose their confidence and consider themselves useless or unacceptable. Educating them about making healthy choices in a soft manner is going to do wonders at this time.
Ensuring their security and safety
Give them your undivided affection. Keep the same routines, so they feel safe. Assure them that their house is a safe place. Don’t make them feel like an imposter just because their behavior is changing. Give them unconditional love and make them feel welcome.
Listening to them and their opinions can really help them get a boost of confidence and feel welcome with you. Establishing a loving relationship from the start can help you and your child through the bumpy teenage years.
Try giving positive feedback
Parents of teenagers frequently discover that they only see the issues. They might develop a pattern of providing primarily critical and negative feedback. Teenagers require feedback, but they respond better to encouragement. Don’t forget to acknowledge appropriate conduct. Your family’s values will be reinforced, and your teen will experience a sense of accomplishment as a result.
Take care of yourself. You don’t need to add to the stress of change by beating yourself up. Keep in mind that it’s acceptable to make mistakes, move slowly, and try to understand that sometimes it’s okay not to be sure of what to do next. It takes time for new routines and habits to take hold. Be kind to yourself and believe in your own potential. You’ll eventually learn how to adapt to your teen’s changing emotions.
It’s important to understand the reasons behind “why are teenagers more susceptible to changing emotions” rather than just acting harshly and violently towards your child. Numerous bodily changes, both physical and emotional, take place during puberty. Knowing what to anticipate will help you as a parent ease this period of transition for your child.
Maintain open communication by cooperating with your teen and asking to cooperate back. Ask your teen what concerns them if you think there might be an issue. Don’t ignore an issue in the hopes that it will go away. It’s simpler to deal with issues when they are at their minimum.
This also allows you and your teen to practice problem-solving skills together. Don’t be scared to seek assistance in coping with your teenager. Teenage emotional fluctuations are not uncommon. However, if you notice them being dramatic and participating in hazardous conduct, struggling in school, or struggling in relationships both within and outside the family, you may want to seek professional assistance.
Connecting with other adults in similar situations can also help you adapt to the situation. Talking to other parents to learn about how to help teens cope with emotional changes and sharing your ideas and feelings can be quite useful if you’re coping with a challenge like raising teenagers.
It provides context for your personal circumstance and lets you realize that other individuals are dealing with similar challenges and sentiments. Getting help from others during difficult times isn’t just important for teens – it’s important for everyone!