Do you have a persistently moody child who struggles to cope with life’s daily stress? Does she always seem on the brink of tears, or ready to fly off the handle, or goes to her room and isolates if her day isn’t going the way she’d like it to?
You may have an emotionally overwhelmed child on your hands.
An overwhelmed kid is a moody kid. She’s trying to figure out the best way to alleviate the tension and anxiety inside of her. That may look like melting down, lashing out, shutting down…or even all three.
Signs that there is an overwhelming part of your child’s life that is emotionally draining for her:
- tearing up or uncontrolled crying
- withdrawing into her room
- temper tantrums
- anger outbursts
- attitude and defiance
- fatigue and exhaustion
- anxiety and feeling nervous
So what can you do to help your moody kid? Here are 9 things you can do to help her soothe herself, stabilize those moods, and support healthy emotional growth.
- Encourage her to let go of perfection.
Your daughter may be moody because life is so frustratingly imperfect and the world is falling short of her standards. She feels this frustration so strongly because she feels things have to go the right way, the perfect way. This perfectionism can increase anger, depression, and anxiety. Let her know things aren’t perfect, and that she doesn’t have to be perfect either. The world is unfolding as it should and she doesn’t have to control it in order to live in it.
- Help her to focus on herself and her needs.
So much emphasis in the world is on being a caring friend, a good sibling, and an obedient daughter, which are wonderful and helpful character traits. But what about what your daughter needs? Some simple things such as reminding her to take care of her body and her mental state (self-care) and focusing less on what others are doing (hello peer drama!), can be immediate mood boosts. This self-care can decrease her stress, give her space to calm down, and recharge herself.
- Ask her to pay attention to what’s going well in life.
Much of your daughter’s mood may be because she’s noticing what’s wrong, missing, or not going well, and she’s moody because she’s dwelling on those things. Encourage to reflect often on what went well in her day, what’s going well right now this minute, and what she’s looking forward to tomorrow. A simple change of focus can change her whole mindset!
- Remind her to love herself.
Self-esteem and confidence plummets in the tween and teen years. Girls get inundated with “the ideal” body and way of being. No wonder she’s moody. That’s a lot of pressure. Talk with her about what she’d like to be and remind her to to just be honest about who she is, own it, and love it.
- Encourage her to share her thoughts.
Sometimes parenting feels like a one-way street with you talking and her ignoring you. It doesn’t have to be like that. Put a period at the end of your sentences and ask her what’s on her mind. If you have a moody child, sometimes it’s because she’s got so much pent up, and just getting it out can help even out her mood.
- Teach her to trust herself.
It takes courage to be who you are and make the decisions you need to make, and for a child/tween/teen growing up in the world, it can be a daunting task to trust you are making the right decision. Doubting herself constantly can increase mood fluctuations. Praise your child for the positive decisions she makes. This can go a long way in promoting courage, and can help with all the peer pressure she will undoubtedly encounter in middle and high school.
- Help her to get off her phone and focus on living life.
Your child may be moody because of what’s happening on social media. With all the drama that stems from your child’s activities on her phone no wonder she’s moody….she’s got a lot to deal with! Don’t hesitate to tell her to check the phone in with you every once in awhile. (Yes, completely give it up to you, not just put it down. How long will that last, right?) It’s not a punishment if you give her alternate activities to do instead. Help her to develop positive in-person relationships –whether it’s with peers, the community (volunteering or a job), or even with nature—yes, dust off those bikes and go on a ride together!
- Let her know it’s OK to be vulnerable.
Your child might be a “tough girl,” meaning she might be hesitant to tell you when something’s wrong because she doesn’t want to admit to herself. When something does bother her that she can’t let go of–it’s bound to come out in moods or aggression. So if something’s bothering her, let her know that’s ok! She has a right to be bothered by all the stuff in life. She doesn’t have to feel strong all the time.
- Show her she matters.
How do you let your child know she matters? Do you tell her? Show affection? Spend quality time together? Whatever you do…do more of it. A child who believes she matters is a child who can grow and thrive. When she believes she matters she will be better able to cope with her life, reach out to you, and yes—improve her mood!
Bottom line: Contrary to the vibes she gives off, your child doesn’t like being moody. Being moody is your child’s way of saying “I need help.” Try out these 9 ideas and if you’re still struggling with a persistently moody kid don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.