Handling a Young Athlete’s Mood Swing

By Janis Meredith | Posted 2/28/2019

One of the most frustrating things that parents deal with is their children’s mood swings. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you have to walk on eggshells around your kid because you’re not sure what mood they’re in.  

How many of you have felt this after your child plays a bad game? Or after they get home from a discouraging practice?

This is obviously an issue that gets more challenging as kids get older, as moody teenagers are known for being a pain to deal with. It’s hard to always wonder what mood your child is in and whether you or not you should try to talk to them.

I wish there was an easy solution for this, but unfortunately, it’s just one of those immature characteristics that we must learn to love and look past as kids grow up.

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Here’s what I have learned after 31 years of being a mom:

It’s important to stay true to who you are. Don’t let a bad attitude squash you. If you know your child growls in the morning, say a cheerful good morning and leave it at that. No need to clam up or growl back.

Don’t declare war on their moodiness. Sometimes a joke or a hug can cure your child’s moodiness, and sometimes it can’t. If you can’t lighten the mood with a simple attempt, then let it go. Being overly persistent can just annoy them more.

Don’t take their moodiness as a personal assault. This one is really hard for me, as I’m sure it is for most parents. It’s important to remember that your child’s bad mood is usually not because of you, but because of what’s going on in their head.

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Give your child some space. If your child is not in a talkative mood, nothing you say or do will pull a sincere conversation out of them. Forcing it will only make matters worse, so just let it go and let them work through it on their own.

Be honest with your child about your feelings. There’s a time for honest conversation and at that point, it’s okay to share that their moodiness affects you. They might not realize their attitude can upset you, so make sure to let them know in a kind way.  

Be Patient. You can hope for your child to pass through the “moody teenage phase” quickly, but the truth is that it’s a process and can take years. The most important thing is that your kids know you love them, no matter what.

Moodiness in athletes can be attached to a whole host of issues – playing time disagreements, conflicts with the coach, teammate arguments or performance frustrations. These situations on top of the everyday struggles of being a developing teen can make for a pretty bad mood.

When your child climbs out of the bad mood or ends up in one because of something, look for opportunities to help your deal with the issue that’s bothering them so they can work through it.

Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.