Dealing with your moody teenager

A breakdown in communication between you and your teen may be attributed to his or her use of technology.

Teenage years are often the hardest to get through — not just for adolescents, but for their parents as well. The transitional years between ages 13 and 19 bring an onslaught of internal and external conflict — ranging from pressure at school to hormonal changes. Young adults might shut down or even act out when they’re trying to cope. Dr. Gregory L. Jantz, founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, recently published “When Your Teenager Becomes the Stranger in Your House.” We asked him to tell us more about what teenagers are going through, how parents can detect early warning signs and how to ease this difficult period for the whole family.

It seems like all teenagers are excessively moody — why is that?
One of the things is the technology issue. We’re finding an interesting trend with how young people are consumed with technology, as far as text messaging and screen time. There reaches a point where the brain is oversaturated and overstimulated, and we end up creating a depressed brain with overanxiousness. About 20 percent of our teenagers [in the U.S.] are clinically depressed. That’s different than moodiness.

You talk about girls and boys separately — how are their experiences different?
There are gender differences [as far as] what’s going on in the brain. A boy handles depression and moodiness differently than females. Of course, testosterone is an aggression chemical, so boys may be acting out more in a physical sense. Girls who have unresolved depression … the more the intensity, the more inward they become. And with girls, we’re seeing this at earlier and earlier ages.

How can parents communicate when teens are working so hard to shut them out?

There are three things they need from us: They need to feel accepted, understood and affirmed by us. I think oftentimes we can get very judgmental — and remember, they’re hypersensitive to anything critical. [They need] to know they have value. This doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say. Too often we want to fix things quickly, but we should be sure that we’re listening first.

How much should parents feel responsible for what their teens are going through?

Let teens have their emotions, and don’t rescue them. You’re the parent, not the friend. If we’re helicopter parents, they’re not going to learn to deal with the three [adult] emotions of anger, fear and guilt.

What should parents do when it gets too extreme?
There’s a point where we have to be step in and say, “We’ve got to get some outside help.” The biggest regret [is] wishing we hadn’t waited so long.

What are some of the warning signs parents should look for?
I always look for how long the symptoms are present. Has this been going on a couple of weeks, has it increased? Maybe they seem fatigued a lot, their motivation is gone? You’ll see a lot of social isolation, where they will move away from family even more, and probably their friends. There’s a normal [amount of] wanting to be your own person, but this is more of cutting off from others. There’s more impulsive thinking, a lot of rash judgment and irresponsible behavior.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."