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If you’re a parent, you know how much fun it can be to deal with mood swings in kids! The good news is that if you are dealing with mood swings in your kids, there are factors that can help you understand why they happen. This will help with your sanity as a parent, but also give you the tools you need to prevent further issues.
Watch the video or continue reading below to find out more about managing mood swings in kids naturally.
5 Factors To Consider For Mood Swings In Kids
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to psychology. But one reason why kids have mood swings is that thery are still learning how to regulate their emotions. Their outbursts and meltdowns are a way of expressing emotions when they need to let them out.
For a deeper look into the emotional reasons behind mood swings in kids, have a look at this article by Treehouse Counselling. It offers some useful tips to help your kids with regulating their emotions in a healthy way.
Diet can have a profound impact on your child’s mood. Every parent has seen the difference after attending a kid’s birthday party. Kids have had plenty of sugar, and a few hours later they will have a moody meltdown. But there are many more subtle changes that can occur, which you might not link to their diet at first.
Three dietary factors that can influence mood are:
- Sugar and refined carbohydrates – this causes spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which can make kids grumpy, irritable and moody
- Food additives – artificial sweeteners, colours and preservatives can have a variety of impacts on mood
- Food intolerances – if your child is reacting to a specific food, it can cause feelings of moodiness
The inflamed brain
Another factor that has recently come to light in terms of diet is the inflamed brain. There are many links between mental health issues and increased inflammation in the brain.
This microscopic inflammation can be triggered by a number of factors. The main dietary triggers are sugar, refined carbohydrates and vegetable/seed oils.
Processed foods that are high in sugar/carbohydrates and low in nutrients can lead to inflammation. Instead, switch processed foods for wholefood alternatives. For pasta, start moving across to buckwheat or spelt noodles. Use rye or spelt sourdough varieties for your bread. You will also want to increase their protein and healthy fats, as this can reduce their cravings for carb-heavy foods.
Vegetable and seed oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can increase inflammation levels. Oils such as vegetable, sunflower, safflower, soy and canola oils are the most problematic. Unfortunately, even if you don’t use them in the kitchen, they are found in almost every processed food in the supermarket.
Opt for healthier alternatives such as olive oil, coconut oil, butter (if dairy is tolerated) and ghee. Cold pressed oils such as macadamia and avocado oils can also be good for cold uses.
Lifestyle factors can also play a role in brain inflammation. Exposure to chemicals and toxins and heightened stress levels can influence inflammation levels in the body.
We often think of hormones affecting teenagers. But sex hormones can actually influence mood swings in kids as young as 7 years old. The brain is the first part of the body to be affected by rising hormones, so you will see mood swings long before any physical changes.
Pre-teens and teens will experience mood swings, as there is a huge surge in sex hormones that you simply cannot prevent. But you can encourage a healthier balance of hormones by minimising their sugar and refined carbohydrate intake.
Another factor in hormone balance is environmental oestrogens. Environmental oestrogens are stronger than the natural hormones produced by the body, so they can have a greater impact on mood. These are found in sources such as plastics, parabens, chemicals in cleaning products and even in the water supply. We can’t control all of these factors, but reducing plastic use, minimising artificial fragrances and opting for paraben-free personal care products is a good start.
Conditions such as autism and ADHD can make children more prone to mood swings and disorders. There is a known genetic link between autism and psychiatric conditions. Neurodevelopmental conditions are linked to higher levels of brain inflammation. Children with these conditions can also have a harder time with emotional regulation, and take longer to develop it. It’s easier for them to become overwhelmed, as they experience sensory overload and can have issues with communication.
For kids with autism or ADHD, it is essential for all of the factors that can influence mood to be addressed.
Finally, gut health can have a huge influence on mood swings in kids. There is a strong link between the state of the gut and mood. As an example, research has found that 50% of people with IBS also have mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Another study found that adding a good strain of bacteria to the guts of mice reduced their anxiety levels, but this was reversed after cutting the vagus nerve – the nerve that links the gut and brain.
Many brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, are also produced in the gut. Serotonin, GABA and dopamine are all synthesised by good bacteria in the digestive tract. So if the gut flora is imbalanced, it can influence mood.
Gut flora can also affect leaky gut, or a compromised gut lining. When this occurs, undigested proteins enter the system, which alerts the immune system. The immune system then triggers inflammation in response, which can inflame the brain and influence mood.
There are a number of roles that gut health plays in mental health and mood. So it should always be a consideration if you are dealing with mood swings.
Gut health can have a significant impact on mood swings in kids, as well as every other area of wellbeing.