Ask Jigsaw: Moody and snappy | Advice for Young People

Ask Jigsaw: Moody and snappy at home

I often become very angry and sad at home, my parents normally give out to me to being moody or snappy but I don’t know why do it. I feel like I am being treated unfairly but when I look back on the situation I don’t know why I got so angry or what the problem was to begin with. Sometimes I blame it on hormones but I don’t know if it is something else instead. I was wondering if there was a way to stop getting angry and have a better relationship with my family?

If we keep taking on more and more, without finding a way to release some of the buildup, our emotions will overflow.

Jen, Jigsaw Clinician

Hello,

Emotions can be complicated things. Sometimes there is a really obvious reason for why we feel sad or angry. Sometimes it can feel like strong emotions erupt out of nowhere. Often when emotions seem to come from nowhere, it is due to a buildup of lots of small things over time that affect us.

When I am working with young people in Jigsaw, I will often describe it like this: Imagine you have a jug of water and a cup. You can pour the water into the cup until it reaches the top, but if you keep pouring, the cup will overflow. You either need to stop pouring the water from the jug or you need to put a tap into the bottom of the cup to let out some of the liquid in a controlled way. Our emotions can be a bit like this. We can hold quite a lot of emotions in, but if we keep taking on more and more, without finding a way to release some of the buildup, our emotions will overflow. Usually this comes out in a burst of anger or tearfulness.

It might seem like small things that we hold in. Perhaps something unfair happens at school, or someone says something mean. Then we have a little argument with a sibling and a teacher gives us loads of homework. Because these all seem like small things, we can push them down without really acknowledging that they are upsetting or frustrating. Finally, something that seems really small, like a comment from a parent, can force everything to overflow, and we become moody or snappy all of a sudden.

 

It can be useful just to notice and acknowledge the emotion you feel. It can help you to let it go

Jen, Jigsaw Clinician

As things happen throughout the day, it can be useful just to notice and acknowledge the emotion you feel. You might feel a bit sad, embarrassed, annoyed, frustrated, ashamed, upset, angry, disappointed, guilty or any other type of emotion. Just acknowledging it can help you to let it go.

It can also be helpful to write down how you feel about different things. You don’t have to show this to anyone, and can get rid of it straight away. But the act of writing down how we feel can help us to make sense of it.

Sometimes when we get in a bad mood, it can feel like there’s nothing we can do about it. However, think about the things you can actively do to try to feel a bit better. It might be about focusing on positive memories or stories that make us feel good about ourselves. Maybe we need to do something physical, like getting out for a walk. Perhaps it’s distracting ourselves by having a chat with someone, or watching Netflix for a while. Do up a list of all of the things that help you to get out of a bad mood, as when you are feeling moody or snappy, you’ll probably need a reminder.

You mention blaming your mood on hormones sometimes. If you feel it may be linked to hormones, it would be a good idea to keep a mood diary and see if there is any pattern as to when you feel better or worse. Consider talking to your doctor, who can investigate this further if needed.

You ask about how to stop yourself getting angry. There are lots of practical things you can do to help yourself cope with anger when it arises. You can read more about managing anger here.

It’s great that you want to have a better relationship with your family. I wonder whether you would feel able to tell them this? Often parents just see the angry outside of a young person, but can’t see the storm of emotions that are going on under the surface. If you could open up a little and let them know that you are finding it challenging to manage your moods at times, but that you would like to be able to, they may have some ideas to help.

Thanks for your question, and I hope things get a little easier at home for you.

Take care,

Jen, Jigsaw Clinician