The adolescent years can be a troubling time for many teenagers. While parents may often be the first ones to recognize that their teenager is troubled, they may not know when or how to begin addressing these issues. The following changes may indicate that your teenager is troubled and needs help.
- Withdrawal from family and friends-While it may not be uncommon for teens to turn away from their parents, it is uncommon for teens to withdraw from their friends, too. This may be the first indication a parent has concerning a troubled teen.
- Depression-If your teen is exhibiting signs of depression, then it's time to seek help from a professional Your teen may not be comfortable opening up to you, but a professional can help guide your teen out of his depression.
- Drop in academic performance-Has your A or B student suddenly started making failing grades? Unless you can pinpoint the reason, there may be more going on than simply lack of studying. Talk to your school's guidance counselor for help and suggestions about how to address this issue.
- Strange behavior-Obviously, this can encompass a long list of actions, depending on your child. The point is that parents need to pick up on strange behaviors, such as increased aggressiveness, sexual promiscuity, lack of motivation, sleeplessness or sleepiness, repetitive nightmares, threats of self-injury, and any other behavior that appears odd.
Once you've determined that your teenager has become troubled, what do you do next? Keep in mind that you may not be able to help your teen without professional help. Consider taking the following steps:
- Contact your child's doctor-The first step should be a complete exam to rule out any physical problems. Hormonal changes may be the culprit, so be sure and set up a doctor's appointment immediately.
Talk to the school's guidance counselor-Although she may not be able to provide one-on-one counseling services, she can talk to you about any troubling behavior that might have been documented by the teacher or other staff members.
Seek counseling-If you aren't sure who to contact, ask your pediatrician and/or your school's guidance counselor for the names of recommended counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists.
Treatment centers-The counselor or psychologist that you consult may feel that your teenager's behavior is too troubling to treat as an outpatient. In this case, you may need to have your teen committed to a treatment center for a suggested period of time.
Communicate-While talking with your teenager may be difficult at this time, make a concerted effort to keep the lines of communication open as much as possible. Encourage family time, and try to get your teen to invite old friends over. Look for new hobbies that you and your teen can enjoy together.
Remember, addressing your troubled teenager's issues may take a while, but with professional help and good communication, you can help your teen get through the turbulent adolescent years.