Teenagers can be a lot of fun to raise, with moments of pride, laughter, and growth. But it can also be challenging, especially if you don’t know how to spot when they’re in trouble and how to get them help. For teens to be successful and gain the skills needed to last through this time and beyond, you need a toolbox full of resources to help you help them.
At Help Your Teen Now, we’ve helped parents navigate the many resources available for teens to find the best match for their unique situation. From therapeutic boot camps to boarding school, knowing how and where to turn is key. Ultimately, when a strong support system surrounds your teen, their chance of success increases. Continue reading to learn more about ways to recognize signs of distress, encourage open conversation, get professional help when needed, and more.
How to Spot Signs of Trouble in Your Teen
Let’s face it. Your day-to-day is full of tasks you need to complete, and often, it also comes with a few surprises. It’s no wonder that some things slip through the cracks, making you wonder what more you can do. In addition, it’s human nature to withdraw when feeling confused, cornered, or out of control. Combine these two, and you have the age-old recipe of the typical parent/teen relationship. However, there are some things you can do to get back on track. The first of those is learning how to spot the telltale signs that your teen needs help.
Changes in Behavior: Watch out for changes in how they act. Is your ordinarily sociable teen pulling away from friends and spending too much time alone? Monitoring for changes means patience and a keen eye. While some teens seem to change overnight, others change over time. The key is to pay attention and make contact each day, even for only a few minutes.
Changes in School Performance: A sudden drop in grades or an apparent lack of interest in learning could be signs of emotional problems. When this occurs, take a look at what else is happening. Is it the beginning of a new year? Are they in classes different from their friends? Staying on top of their school performance also includes connecting with teachers and other adults they see daily, such as coaches or the band director.
Mood Swings: Being moody is a normal part of adolescence, but mood swings that last for a long time, followed by hopelessness or sadness, could be warning signs.
Changes in Sleep and Appetite: Changes in how your teen sleeps or how much they eat can also be signs of deeper problems.
Isolation: If your teen is pulling away from friends, family, and things they used to enjoy, it could be a sign of trouble. Looking at the big picture to find the root cause is necessary to help them as best as possible.
Giving Your Teen a Safe Place to Talk
If you’ve noticed some of the signs above, it doesn’t mean all is lost. What it does mean is that you need to make an extra effort to reach out. Communication should be consistent, but it can sometimes fall by the wayside when life gets in the way. In addition, if your teen is genuinely struggling, the last thing they might want to do is participate in daily chats. To help your teen open up, consider the following tips.
Create a judgment-free zone: Make sure your teen feels like they can talk about how they feel without fear of being judged or punished. This means putting aside your own feelings about the situation and truly listening to where they’re coming from.
Practice active listening: During the conversation, pay close attention and don’t talk over him or her. This shows them you care about what they think and feel. Also, timing is essential. Make sure to have these conversations when you won’t be distracted by other tasks or people.
Ask open-ended questions: Instead of yes-or-no questions, try asking open-ended questions
to get them to talk more. For example, instead of asking, “Did you have a good day?” ask, “How was your day?”
Be honest: Depending on your own teen years, you might be worried about opening up, but being honest about the issues you faced helps your teen feel alone and more linked when they are having trouble.
Knowing When Your Teen Needs Professional Help
The thought of getting professional help for your teen might seem overwhelming, especially if seeking outside assistance goes against everything you’ve been taught. However, a strong mental health framework is crucial for continued growth and success. You can start the process by normalizing therapy options. When your teen feels support to talk about their feelings and stressors, they also understand that focusing on dealing with those things by communicating with professionals, learning coping skills, and processing issues is a sign of strength.
For this reason, it’s also necessary to consult your teen when considering therapy for them. Deciding on your own without this vital conversation can make your teen feel defensive. Remember, communication is essential for healthy relationships, and it starts with being honest about concerns and needs.
While you may gain support from school guidance counselors, therapists, or your teen’s medical team, there are times when your teen needs more intensive care. This is where our team comes in. Our years of advocacy help you find the right resources for your teen through targeted research and connections with a variety of sources. We provide a light in the storm with detailed solutions offered free of charge.
Parents of teenagers have to walk a fine line between giving them room to grow and ensuring they are healthy. By knowing how to spot signs of trouble and when to get help, you can guide them as they go through the rough teenage years. Contact our team today to learn how we can help you find the right resources for your teen.