No Longer Our Little Girl or Little Boy: Normal Teenage Moodiness or Reasons for Concern?
I vividly remember the day I took my young teenage daughter and her friend to the mall and they “ditched me.” They walked as quickly as they could ahead of me so they would not be seen with me. Then my daughter would text me when she wanted me to pay for something she had picked out in a particular store and got impatient if I took too long! What had happened to my little girl?
As painful as it is to experience, this pulling away from parents is a normal part of adolescence. Both boys and girls become increasingly focused on relationships with their friends and far less interested in spending time with their parents. This is all part of the process of maturing from children who are highly dependent on their parents into young adults who are independent.
Adolescents are developing physically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually. Rapid hormonal changes in both boys and girls often lead to increased sensitivity, irritability, self-consciousness, impulsivity, and bursts of anger. Teens commonly don’t understand their changing emotions. They can be loving and kind one minute, and irritable and impolite the next. It is easy to feel upset when they act this way and difficult to respond without elevated emotions ourselves. With a lot of prayer and practice as parents, we can try to step back before responding and try to understand what they are really feeling and experiencing. These years can be very stressful, as teens are trying to determine who they are as young Christians and what choices to make as they compare themselves to others and try to fit in with their peers. They also have the added stress of balancing the demands of academic and extracurricular activities.
Normal Teenage Moodiness or Reasons for Concern?
When teenagers or their families are experiencing additional challenges such as moving, health conditions, or family conflict, the result may be too much stress for adolescents to handle without outside support. To discern whether normal teenage moodiness is developing into depression or significant anxiety, watch for these symptoms:
- excessive isolating, crying, or angry outbursts
- loss of energy, motivation, or concentration
- changes in school performance, appetite, or sleep patterns
- comments about low self-worth
- use of drugs or alcohol
- unexplained health complaints
It is common for high-achieving individuals to push themselves and avoid asking for help, because they consider this a sign of weakness. As parents, we can model the need for support from one another in the body of Christ by occasionally sharing some of our own struggles and how the Lord helped us through them. At Trinity, we want to partner with you as we are guiding and caring for our students together. Feel free to contact me if I can answer any questions or concerns you may have. In the meantime, please know that we are here to pray with you and to support you.
About the Author
Nancy Linton, LPC is the Director of Counseling at Trinity Christian School. She followed the Lord's call during college while at a campus ministry weekend retreat, to use her gifts of encouragement and exhortation to help other people see themselves as God's sees them by understanding and believing His truth in the Bible. She has spent many years counseling students, adults, and families in both school and private settings. In her free time, she enjoys being involved in education advocacy, local politics and water skiing.