It hits you like a ton of bricks: the realization that you hardly recognize your teenager anymore. Sure, they’re changed physically as puberty sets in, but it’s more than that. Their behavior is different, and perhaps the teachers at school are also starting to show concern.
You may be dealing with a troubled teen who needs your help to overcome the challenges that they’re facing. But you don’t have to face it all alone.
At Help Your Teen Now, we provide a safe space for teenagers and parents or caregivers to learn more about surviving and thriving in the tumultuous teenage years.
To understand whether your child needs intervention, read on as we unpack the warning signs of a troubled teenager.
Indications that Your Teenager Needs Help Now
Several teenage behavior markers call on you to act on your teen’s overall well-being. As the provider of care and support in the teen-parent/caregiver relationship, it is up to you to recognize these signs and initiate a treatment course that will contribute to a healthier teenager.
Here is a list of common signs that your teen may be troubled:
Engaging in risky behavior
Teenagers are still children at heart, and their childlike curiosity takes on a new life in their adolescent years. Adding negative peer pressure (whether from friends or social media) can lead to teens experimenting with illegal substances or taking part in behaviors that are harmful to their physical and mental state.
High-risk activities include:
- Leaving the household for an undetermined amount of time without letting anyone know where they are
- Taking drugs or drinking alcohol
- Hurting themselves, whether it’s subtle or obvious
- Partaking in sexual activity.
If you think your teenager is doing any of the above, take action and get the help you need right now.
Decline in academic performance
It doesn’t matter whether your child was an A-grade student or someone in the lower class ranks. It’s vital to note any sudden drops in their academic scores.
The teenage years are filled with challenges that may affect your child’s ability to focus and study.
However, one of your teen’s main jobs during these years is to obtain a good education. If they cannot apply themselves academically due to issues in their lives or households, the consequences can reach far into their future.
Make a concerted effort to keep track of your teen’s studies and scores, and open a line of communication between you, as the parent or caregiver, and your child’s teacher.
When you notice a downturn in their scores or interest in learning, find out the underlying cause and discuss a way forward with your teenager.
Changes in emotional and mental wellbeing
The teenage experience can be confusing at best, filled with ups and downs that are hard for adolescents to explain. How often do parents hear from our teens: “You don’t understand what I’m going through”?
To know whether your child is experiencing mental or emotional challenges, it’s essential to spend time with them. By understanding their normal behavior, you can determine whether mood swings are just a phase or cause for concern.
Also, look for troubling signs of depression and anxiety, which may stem from academic performance concerns and self-esteem issues.
Other changes to monitor include:
- A lack of personal hygiene
- Disruptive sleep patterns, such as staying up too late or sleeping for long periods during the day
- Secretive behavior that is different from their usual way of being
- An increase in sudden or violent outbursts.
While changes in the body may cause some behaviors to be different, you should trust your gut regarding your teen’s mental and emotional state. If they’re acting out of character, you most likely need to step in and support your teen through this time instead of just blaming it on normal teen behavior.
Withdrawing from social settings
As your teen progresses through these pre-adult years, you may notice that they’re less willing to spend time with friends or family than they used to.
As teens increase their desire for independence, spending time alone is typical. However, complete avoidance of all social activities and blocking out their closest friends may be pointing to a more significant concern.
Try to understand the reason behind this change in social behavior. In so doing, you will empower yourself and your teen with the knowledge to determine whether their voluntary social isolation results from something else or simply a need to be alone occasionally.
What Causes Distress in a Teen’s Life?
Today’s teenagers face increasing stress levels in their daily lives, which can come from internal or external factors.
Internal contributors to stress include body image issues, academic performance anxiety, and mental illnesses such as depression.
Situations in the outside world can also increase a teen’s stress level, such as divorce or the loss of a beloved family member, as well as peer pressure.
Getting Help Early is the Key
To give your teen the best headstart into adulthood, create and foster an environment where seeking help is normalized. This will also facilitate the relationship between you and your teen, helping you quickly identify the signs of difficulties mentioned above.
By actively listening and communicating in a supportive and kind manner, you can teach your teen much-needed coping skills for the modern world. And when it all gets too much for you to handle alone, Help Your Teen Now is here to assist.
Our team of dedicated and professional teen specialists will help you decide on a treatment plan for your troubled teen. We offer advice and guidance for parents and caregivers seeking a residential treatment center for their children.