Your child some days might be cheerful and excited, and other times he might seem sad, down, flat or low. These moods are a normal part of life for young people in the same way it is normal for adults.
You might notice your child feeling more ups and downs than he used to, or his moods might be more extreme. This could be for many reasons: physical, emotional, social and psychological and not for any one reason in particular. You might also notice that your relationship with your child is changing, as well as how he shares his emotional world with you. Privacy might be very important to him.
When your teenage child wants more time on his own or more privacy, it is not necessarily that he is being ‘moody’ – it is actually a sign that your child is maturing and becoming more independent. This can be a healthy part of adolescence, although your child still needs your supervision and support.
Young people go through lots of physical changes during adolescence. Their bodies are changing, which might make them self-conscious or embarrassed – or just make them want more privacy and time to themselves. Children who seem to be developing earlier or later than friends might feel emotional about these physical changes.
Young people’s brains keep developing into their early twenties. This means young people can find it harder to control some of their more powerful emotions, and it might seem that they react more emotionally to situations than they used to. They are also still learning to process and express those emotions in a grown-up way.
New thoughts, new emotions, new friends and new responsibilities – these all affect how your child is feeling. Your child is learning how to solve more problems on his own as he moves towards independence.
It can help your child a lot to know that it is normal to have emotional ups and downs. One of the best ways to help your child understand this is to let him know that sometimes you feel flat too. Staying connected and actively listening to what is going on in your child’s life will help you pick up more easily on the triggers for his emotional ups and downs. It is also important for him to know that you will be there for him when he is feeling flat.
Sometimes, continually feeling down or flat can be a sign of something more serious. Young people can feel down for minutes, hours, days or much longer. If your child seems down, flat or sad for two or more weeks, or if you notice moods are stopping your child from getting on with his usual daily activities, this could be a sign of a more serious mental health problem.
If you are concerned about your child’s emotions and behavior, it is important to talk with your child and to seek help from your doctor. Mental health problems can have serious long-term consequences if left untreated.