It was English poet William Congreve who coined the phrase "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." But maybe Congreve hadn't ever experienced the power behind a teenage breakup -- a teenager scorned might be even more serious. When your teen breaks up with a boyfriend, her emotions can become exaggerated and extreme. By understanding what's running through her teenage brain, you'll better understand why a breakup -- even after a short-term relationship -- can rock her world.
The teen brain isn't developed enough to make long-term decisions, warns the National Institute of Mental Health. Instead, your teen lives in the moment. A relationship means experiencing adult emotions such as love for the first time, which can turn into infatuation after a breakup. Unrequited love might seem romantic to your lovestruck your teen, but being infatuated with one person could become a problem when it limits social opportunities or becomes obsessive. Your teen probably doesn't want to hear that "other fish are in the sea," but you can help her branch out and meet new friends through social activities so she isn't centered on just one person.
A teen breakup can turn your child from a docile being into a miserable creature. The feelings that go along with a breakup -- betrayal, sadness, low self-esteem -- can affect your teen's mood. Don't be surprised if you try to comfort her and she lashes out at you, notes California State University psychology professor Nancy Kalish in a 2009 article for "Psychology Today." Her emotions might be boiling together to create anger, which might be the way she expresses her crushing heartbreak after a breakup.
Teen breakups have evolved in the past 50 years. Gone are the days of "going steady" and respectful dating. Instead, texting, Facebook and Instagram have permeated teen dating, which means that breakups can be somewhat public. When your teen's Facebook status changes to "single," she might feel embarrassed that everyone knows about her relationship. Embarrassment might also be the result of a tactless ex who shares private pictures and texts with other people as part of the breakup ritual. As a parent, soothe your teen's wounded pride and ensure that her former boyfriend's behavior doesn't escalate into bullying or harassment.
When your teen had her hopes and dreams pegged on her relationship, it can be devastating when those are ripped away during a breakup. Watch for signs of depression in your teen, which can follow a relationship. Sadness, social withdrawal, a sudden change in physical appearance, being especially defensive and poor self-esteem are all signs of teen depression, warns Mental Health America. If you suspect your teen is depressed, contact your family doctor for a referral to a qualified mental health worker for help.
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