Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Credit Card Bills Keep Piling Up

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter has been having significant mood swings of late. One day she comes home with a pleasant attitude. The next day she is super snippy. We have always been close, but I worry that it is changing. I want to stay connected to her, but I can’t allow her to talk to me any way she pleases. To that end, she actually apologized to me yesterday and admitted that she had been in a terrible mood the day before. I thanked her for noticing and told her that it sometimes is hard for me when she is so snippy. Is there anything else I can do? -- Teenage Blues

DEAR TEENAGE BLUES: Medical experts say that mood swings are common among teenagers due to hormonal changes, lack of sleep, poor eating habits and social stressors. While you should not allow your teen to speak to you disrespectfully, experts suggest that it is smart for you to resist reacting immediately to mood swings. Instead, attempt to show compassion. Let your teen know that you understand that waves of emotion can sometimes make them behave in extreme ways. Continue to keep the lines of communication open so that you and your daughter talk as much as possible about everything. In this way, when touchy subjects come up, you have created space to discuss them comfortably.

One note for parents: If your teen’s moods seem too intense, look for warning signs of a bigger problem: prolonged irritability; extreme feelings of highs and lows; feelings of unworthiness; erratic behavior; failing grades; suspected substance abuse; refusal to participate in activities previously enjoyed; and talk of self-harm or suicide. For more support, go to aha-now.com/cope-with-teenage-mood-swings.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)