by Hillary Rinehardt of Rinehardt Injury Attorneys
It’s universal. The teenage years are a turbulent, troubling time for adolescents worldwide. Teachers who work with teenagers must take multiple courses on handling the moods of a classroom full of hormonal teenagers. While these courses explore adolescent brain theories and coping mechanisms in depth, the takeaway involves a few simple tips that any adult can use when dealing with a teen’s mood swings.
Patience, Patience, Patience
The first essential tip any adult needs to understand about handling teens’ moods is that patience is paramount. Adolescents often deal with seemingly over-dramatic and ridiculous stress and want someone to listen. Parents can show their support by simply making eye contact when their teen is speaking or asking, “What is wrong? Do you want to talk about it?” Teenagers, just like adults, need affirmation that someone is on their side and listening to them. However, if your teens do not want to talk (and often, they may not), it is essential not to push the subject and force them into closing themselves off. Instead, tell them sincerely that you are here to listen if they ever want to talk about what’s going on in their life.
On this same note, it is crucial to give them space. It is easy to want to know everything that is going on and fix it, but teenagers are growing into adulthood and trying to learn to cope with things independently. It is vital to give them that learning space—and trust that they will go to an adult if something is truly wrong.
When a teenager’s mood escalates, it is easy to try to be the powerhouse and show them that they are not an adult yet and should listen to the adult in the conversation. However, the adult mustn’t show their frustration y loudly sighing, yelling, demeaning, rolling their eyes, or walking away from the teenager. Doing so may be the hardest thing for adults to learn to control. Such aggressive actions can escalate the situation. Joyce Meyer once said, “Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” If you are getting upset with a teen, the best thing to do is to remind yourself that you are the adult in this situation; and that the teen will remember how you react. Your reaction is teaching them how to treat others and how they should act when they get frustrated with others. Yelling, calling names, or physical aggression will show the teen that those actions are okay toward their peers or other adults.
Recognize that Nobody’s Perfect
In the face of frustration, it is easy to make mistakes. If you lose your temper with a teen, it is okay! Apologies go a long way with adolescents. One of the most important things adults can do after a mistake is to admit that they reacted poorly and will try harder to handle their emotions in the future. These actions show a developing adolescent brain that it is acceptable to make mistakes, but it is also important to admit to these mistakes and attempt to rectify the situation.
Every teenager is different, and there is never a one-size-fits-all solution to handling people of any age. However, as an adult, reflecting upon your actions is essential. Adolescents simply model what they see; you are their role model for handling uncontrolled emotions.