There are several reasons why it might be
difficult for your child to control his mood and emotions. Two of the most
likely are being upset and excitement. Your child becomes upset or excited and
his emotions get a little out of hand. Nonetheless, he normally can settle down
if necessary, at least for a few minutes. With this sign, his mood jumping to
the extremes needs to be combined with an inability to control it before the
behavior is significant. Most adolescents tend to be somewhat hyper-emotional
at times. This is not abnormal and the youngsters can control this behavior,
although it may take longer than parents and other adults expect at times.
A potential cause of the sign when mental
illness is a possibility is depression. A depressed child often does not behave
like adults expect depressed children to behave. They might think he would be
in a down mood and not very active. His depression may look like this but is
just as likely to look quite differently.
One aspect of depression in children fits this
sign well. The child’s moods and emotions flip around unpredictably. For
example, he may be very up and have a lot of energy and then down and
withdrawn, open and friendly and then very angry for no reason you can see. The
important thing is to see he cannot stop the emotional turmoil by himself and
needs specialized help with his depression.
Another cause of this sign is serious mental
illness. If this is what is happening with your child, you likely see one or
more of the other signs discussed here.
Arguing and getting upset with your mentally ill
child only makes things worse. It is not a problem having anything to do with
discipline or willfulness. Your youngster’s emotions and reactions really are
out of control; and he cannot help it. Patience and tolerance are in order
along with a careful evaluation by your family physician. If this evaluation
does not result in a referral to a children’s mental health specialist,
consider getting a second opinion.