Culture and Teens: Your Teen and Mood Changes


By MySahanamysahana_abstract_darkgray_opt

First generation American born South Asian teens and their parents face a unique set of challenges that many other cultures don’t face. The parents were raised in a culture, society and educational system that is entirely different than the one their teen is being raised in. Despite trying to maintain South Asian traditions at home, the teen is exposed to numerous other American influences through school, peers and extracurricular activities.

bigstock_Heartbroken_Teenager_20607986Many South Asian parents complain that their teen exhibits an attitude or mood swings that the parents wish to change. In an effort to control the situation, the teen rebel or lash out leaving the parents feeling helpless and even more worried for their child. To best help your teen, it is important for South Asian parents to understand when mood swings are a normal part of growing up or when they is a sign of concern.

During the teenage years, hormones are racing and the brain is growing in very specific ways to prepare for adulthood. The combination of biological and psychological changes make teenagers, as opposed to any other age group, more inclined toward mood swings. However, when attitude, aggressiveness, high emotionality or apathy becomes a norm as opposed to being an occasional problem, it signals a more pressing underlying issue that might be present.

Rejection. Adolescents are very sensitive about their appearance, image and how they are perceived by others, which makes them react more strongly toward rejection. Repeated peer rejection or feeling rejected at home may cause them to lash out.

Bullying. Being taunted or teased for any reason at any age is damaging to self-esteem. Some teens become depressed and others may become increasingly aggressive toward loved ones or peers.

Unfamiliar to failure. Most South Asian parents push their children to be the top of every activity and class they partake in. The problem with such academic pressure is that it leaves children unable to know how to handle failure. As classes become harder in junior high and high school, not being the top of the class may be difficult for the teen to accept. Lowering self esteem combined with a fear of disappointing their parents may result mood swings or a change in attitude.

Undiagnosed emotional health issues. Adolescence is a time when the brain is at high risk for developing emotional health problems, especially if there is a genetic predisposition for them. Depression, anxiety as well as more serious mental health issues like ADHD or bipolar disorder can begin to emerge at this age. The teen may be unsure or confused by the symptoms or possibly ashamed by them and may lash out at the family or at school as a way to regain control over their changing minds and bodies. teentexting

Substance use. Trying alcohol or recreational drugs during the teenage years is common because adolescents are risk takers. If you notice a sudden change in their behavior or mood coupled with marked secrecy, your teen might be using substances.

Teen dating violence. South Asian teens who begin dating rarely share this with their parents. The secrecy of the relationship is stressful as it is and may cause some mood changes. However, when the teen finds him/herself in a violent relationship, the emotional damage from the violence as well as feeling unsupported can cause the teen to have more mood swings than normal.

Family conflict or change. A teen’s mood can be a gauge for the family’s emotional environment as well. If parents are experiencing marital conflict, if there is a change in the family (e.g. a death or a change in financial status) or if a member of the family is physically or emotionally unwell, the teen may experience sudden mood changes.

Parents of teens should never assume that they know everything going on in the child’s life. If you are concerned about your adolescent’s sudden change in mood, follow these tips to talk them and see what is bothering them. The more open your relationship is with your teen, the healthier and more successful they will be in the long run.


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