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Changes in Mood and Behaviour

Changes in mood are common in older children and teens. They are at the beginnings of puberty where their body and mind starts the journey to adulthood. It can be a confusing time for parents and children.

Physical and emotional changes are happening at the same time that your child is coping with new experiences, like heading to high school and becoming more independent. Often parents will start to notice that their child is more moody than when they were younger.

You may notice some or all of these changes;

  • Being ‘ withdrawn’ or quiet with family and friends
  • Not interested in things they once enjoyed like their favourite sport, or taking care of their appearance
  • Worried about having the ‘right’ clothes and looks
  • Angry outbursts
  • Clinginess / Behaving like a younger child.
  • You might feel that it is difficult to talk to your child, that they are harder to be around, and you might worry that you have lost that feeling of closeness with them. Although your child might seem like they don’t want or need you, they may still need help to deal with big feelings.

    If your child is struggling to talk to you there are some things that can help make this easier for you both. If your child starts to share their thoughts and feelings with you remember, what they are worrying about might not feel like a big deal to you, but it is a real anxiety for your child.

    Set Time Aside. You could;

    • Walk to the shop together
    • Cook something
    • Watch something on TV
    • Play a ball game
    • Paint each others nails

    Conversation Starters. It can feel hard to get the conversation started. Try;

    • 'How are you feeling about getting your new school uniform? I remember how nervous I felt when I moved up to high school'.
    • 'You’ve not been yourself lately – I was wondering if anything is worrying you? You’ve a lot going on at the moment'.
    • 'My friend’s son has been stressing about catching the school bus. I was wondering if that is a worry for you too?'.

    Don’t feel you have to have all the answers.

    • Being listened to is the most important part.
    • Try not to rush to ‘fix it’. Your child’s might have their own ideas of what might help.
    • This helps your child grow in confidence that they can take some control of tricky situations.
  • There are some symptoms that mean your child might benefit from an assessment of how best to support them to feel better. These might include;

    • Being sad nearly all the time.
    • Anger and irritability a lot of the time.
    • No interest in things they used to enjoy.
    • Stopping taking care of themselves.
    • Eating too much or too little.
    • Sleeping too much or too little.
    • Being tired all the time.
    • Being negative about themselves a lot of the time.
    • Struggling to go out to school and / or with friends and family.
    • Feeling numb and ‘separate’.
    • Hurting themselves (self harm) this may be cutting themselves, or pinching, or hair pulling.
    • Getting in risky situations.
    • Hanging out with people you worry are ‘using’ them.
    • Problem behaviour at home and / or at school.

    If your child talks about wanting to kill themselves - maybe they even  say they know how they will do this- this is a sign your child needs urgent support – you should call 111, or your GP as soon as possible.

Who Can Help?

If you think the young person is in danger of seriously harming themselves right now, it is an emergency dial 999 or go to A&E.

The NSPCC have more advice for if you are worried a child or young person might take their own life here.

 If at any time you feel worried that your child’s moods are more difficult than you had expected as they become teenagers then seek further help and support. You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

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