Your once mild-mannered teenage daughter now bursts into tears without warning, storms out of rooms and slams doors. Believe it or not, such moody behavior is a typical part of teenage development. During the adolescent years, your teen is faced with a flood of hormones, an increase in nerve activity in her brain and a sense of autonomy -- all of which contribute to rapidly changing feelings and emotions.
When your teen girl reaches puberty, her brain releases a chemical called gonadotropin-releasing hormone. The release of this hormone turns her from a teenager into an adult with adult levels of hormones, according to KidsHealth.org. These hormones can take some time for her mind to adjust to, and she may feel confused and begin having strong emotions that she has never experienced before. You may notice her becoming especially sensitive or quick to lose her temper. Though the adjustment will be difficult in the beginning, it will gradually become easier.
In a 2002 study published in "Brain and Cognition," researchers found that teens experience a sudden, natural increase in nerve activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain during the onset of puberty. This part of the brain plays a significant role in controlling social behavior. Professor of psychology Robert McGivern believes this is part of a temporary reorganization in the brain, which may make it difficult for your teen to process and react to social situations.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics at HealthyChildren.org, the adolescent years are the time when your teen daughter will begin asserting her independence. This can be a confusing time for her -- she wants to be running her own life but she is financially dependent on you. She longs to be her own person yet still has the need to fit in with her peers. These conflicting desires can lead to a roller coaster of quickly shifting emotions and behaviors. And it can be difficult for you to navigate the constant mood shifts of your daughter -- especially as you struggle with your own feelings of loss as you watch your formerly dependent child grow into an independent teenager.
Dealing with Moody Behavior
The Raising Children Network states that you will need to be patient and understanding if your teen demonstrates moody behavior. Praise your teen whenever you have a positive exchange and let her know that you value her opinions. Don't ridicule or mock her moodiness, but do try to lighten the tone of a conversation whenever possible. Avoid arguing, lecturing and nagging and try not to take her behavior personally.
- Psychology Today: Why Teens are Moody
- Brain and Cognition: Cognitive Efficiency on a Match to Sample Task Decreases at the Onset of Puberty in Children
- KidsHealth.org: Everything You Wanted to Know About Puberty
- HealthyChildren.org: Stages of Adolescence
- Raising Children Network: Dealing with Discrespectful Teenage Behavior
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images