One of the parents, after school hours, came to me and shared that her child’s behaviour at home has changed since last year. Her satisfaction with everything, from dress codes to cuisine, changes rapidly. One moment she seems happy, but her mood shifts to anger in seconds. 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 start developing their thinking skills and behaviour. It seems they are grown-ups. However, it’s not always the case. While some will start looking and acting more mature, others will remain more child-like physically and emotionally. Remember 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 anger, irritability, or depression. As of 10 years, kids start developing their personality of who they are in the world. Many are preparing to start middle or junior high school and are getting ready to navigate new social settings. As for girls, who generally develop physically faster 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, which also causes obesity. 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 typical signs of bipolar disorder, considered as occurrences of mania or hypomania and depression, both of which are 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, wanting to cry out loud, lacking energy, feeling wiped out, difficulty sleeping, eating disorder, thoughts of death or suicide etc.
Bipolar disorder is often mistakenly considered a part of age-related behavioural changes 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 cannot 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. Children may learn to cope with their feelings healthily with coaching and practice.
Areas where parents need to step forward and work are:
- Personal space: Give your child some private space to contemplate and reflect on the solutions to their problem by themselves. Do not discourage them when they come up with some answers, even if you feel the solution doesn’t make 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 a timetable: Help them make their timetable and encourage them to be committed to it. Do not force children to follow the rules like, ‘it’s 10 pm, leave whatever you’re doing and go to bed. This type of ‘ordering’ behaviour with kids makes them feel hostile and reserved. Remember, at this age (10 to 14), they are now developing advanced skills to respect and be respected by others, including their parents.
- A good study environment at home: Indeed, when a child hesitant to share their thoughts with their parents and feel caged at home, they start feeling alone and stressed, which makes their mood swing a lot faster than ever. Provide a healthy and encouraging home environment, 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 aged between 9 to 14 years. The study shows that 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 it’s nothing to worry about. Talk to your child, have a dialogue with them, and respect their decisions and privacy. This is the age where children develop 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.