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My granddaughter is 15 and has mild ,but definite mood swings. She lives with a loving balanced family. I was a teacher for 30 years and I d o not believe the problem is due to her age alone.
Hello, I am available to assist you with your question. Welcome!
I have worked in the mental health field for over 20 years, with a specialty working with teens
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As you know at this age it's sometimes difficult to decipher what is "normal" teen behavior, and what is a mood issue.
You identified responding to her in a "gentle, but straightforward way"- that is best with this age. Also choosing our battles carefully, having tolerance, and remaining calm when the teen is acting out, or more irritable, works best.
Re-framing her behavior into her being "high spirited", testing her independence vs. misbehaving, or that there is something wrong with her. Is there a history in the family of depression or other mood issues?
It's also better for teens to be expressive, vs. passive and repressed, and to be allowed a place to do that, but balanced with her being respectful and appropriate in how she does this.
That she has a loving and balanced family, and caring extended family will increase the likelihood that she will make it through this stage- as long as her family can hang in there.
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If parent's of teens told me their patience was not tested, I would be surprised.
There is a great deal of frontal lobe brain development going on at this age- and how she is acting is part of that development. They truly look at things with a different brain, than a more adult brain.
This is my favorite age to work with- so much growth and development going on. It can also be a confusing and difficult time for teens- the age when social issues are becoming so important- wanting to fit in, self worth being tested, parents not "understanding" from their point of view.
If the family remains balanced and patient you all will be better for it as she goes through this stage. This stage of development is similar to the development of a butterfly. The butterfly starts out in the cocoon, not the "prettiest" thing, but develops gradually into a beautiful butterfly. She's in a sense in that cocoon stage of development.
If I were seeing her and her parents, important questions I would ask is how is she doing outside of the home, school, socially, etc. If there are few concerns, I would encourage the parents to continue to be patient, and or assist the parents and teen to communicate more clearly. Find out what the teen is "trying" to say, what is she trying to communicate.? She may be confused herself- just so many emotions swirling around within her.
If the family continues to be patient, gentle, and tolerant, the relationship will be better for that- knowing that those she loves went with her on the "roller coaster ride" of teen development.
Talking clearly and straight with her is the best. Certainly the family needs to confront her, or give her feedback if and when she is disrespectful- but this is better done talking with her calmly.
If there are concerns above and beyond "normal" teen development, or the family questions if she may be depressed, or anxious, talking with her doctor, or a counselor can be considered. A doctor or counselor would ask about other symptoms such as sleep, appetite, motivation, any change in her interests- is she pursuing things she enjoys etc.