One of the parents, after school hours, came to me and shared that her child’s behaviour at home is changing since last year. Her level of satisfaction with everything; from dress-codes to cuisine changes rapidly. One moment she seems happy and in a matter of seconds her mood shifts to anger. Overall, her behaviour is getting weird and strange day by day. Is it because of her social group (friend-circle) or is it something else?
First of all, parents, children from the age of 10 and onwards start developing their thinking skills and behaviour. It seems they grown-ups, however, its not always the case. While some will start looking and acting more mature, others will remain more child-like, both physically and emotionally. Keep in mind that 10 to 14 years is the period of change for them. It is a transition that can offer challenges and delights as children start to embrace the approach of adolescence. Mood swings are one of the ‘developmental’ aspects of this change or transition.
Swings, at this age, are quick and often extreme, variations in one’s emotional state, involving alternating between feelings of happiness and well-being and feelings of anger, irritability, or depression. As of 10 years, kids start developing their personality of who they are in the world. Many are preparing for the start of middle or junior high school and are getting ready to navigate new social settings. As for girls, who generally develop physically at a faster rate and enter puberty earlier than boys, the transition into adolescence can activate a swarm of emotions: excitement, vagueness, anxiety, and even humiliation.
Causes of Mood Swings
Among the possible reasons for mood swings, some causes include an imbalance in the brain chemicals associated with mood regulation, the hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle or menopause. In males, mood swings may occur due to the massive intake of fast foods and soft drinks that also causes obesity in them. Mood swings are also familiar with stress and anxiety that causes moods to fluctuate from irritability to extreme sadness to an angry outburst.
What is Bipolar Disorder
Mood swings are one of the typical signs of bipolar disorder, consider as occurrences of mania or hypomania and depression, both which called mixed episodes. There are two main types of bipolar disorder: Bipolar I and Bipolar II.
Bipolar I: An occurrence of mania can have signs like fast-talking, feeling energetic, being extremely talkative, engaging in risky behaviour, needing less sleep than usual etc.
Bipolar II: A depressive episode may include feeling sad or worthless, want to cry out loud, lacking energy, feeling wiped-out, difficulty sleeping, eating disorder, thoughts of death or suicidal etc.
Bipolar often mistakenly consider as a part of age-related behavioural changes that occur as child development. It’s not necessary that children who have the above symptoms must have ‘Bipolar disorder’.
How to deal with Mood Swings – Parental Guidance
When children are unable to control their emotions by themselves, they start avoiding such situations where they feel uncomfortable. For example, a child who is shy in social cases may avoid joining a new activity because she lacks confidence in her ability to tolerate the discomfort associated with trying new things.
Controlling emotion is not something which one can teach their children from the book. These emotions are part of children’s daily routine; it should be taught in a way where a child can learn practically from their day-to-day matters. With coaching and practice, children may learn to cope with their feelings healthily.
Areas, where parents need to step forward and work, are:
- Personal space: Give your child some private space where they can contemplate and reflect the solutions of their problem, first, by themselves. Do not discourage them when they come up with some answers even, you feel, the solution doesn’t make any sense. Allow them to have some privacy with friends., holding private conversations and sharing secrets is socially appropriate at this age and it can be essential to your child’s healthy development.
- Teach them to make and follow timetable: Help them to make their timetable and encourage them to be committed to that timetable. Do not force children to follow the rules like; ‘its 10 pm leave whatever you’re doing and go to bed’. This type of ‘ordering’ behaviour with kids make them feel hostile and reserve. Remember, at this age (10 to 14) they are now developing advanced skills to respect and be respected by others including their parents.
- Good study environment at home: Indeed, when a child hesitant to share their thoughts with their parents and feel caged at home, they started feeling alone and stressed that makes their mood to swing a lot faster than ever. Provide healthily and encourage environment at home such as: establishing a homework time and a designated homework area. Create easy rules such as ‘No TV during homework time and No homework during TV time’, that will help your child manage their moods and compartmentalise their work.
- A proper meal at home, avoid fast-food: fast foods are the core reason for obesity among students age between 9 to 14 years. The study shows, processed foods may create chain chemical and hormonal disbalance in kids at this age resulting in excessive mood swings that impact their lives.
Remember, if you see behavioural changes in your child, remind yourself that it’s a time of transition for your child and its nothing to worry about. Talk to your child, have a dialogue with them, respect their decisions and privacy. This is the age where children developed most of their confidence and decision-making skills.
Share your thoughts in the comment box below about your child’s mood swings in the post-puberty period and how you handle such fluctuations.