Is your teen in trouble? Warning signs and tips for parents

 parentandteen  Worrisome teenage behavior that is common and not so obvious:-Withdrawal -Hanging out with a different crowd -Spending more time in their room

-Wanting to give up previous activities -Being more moody or anxious -Breaking up with a relationship -Dieting in in a more extreme way -More focus on exercise -Engaging in extreme behaviors- a new sport vigorously for example-what’s the motivation here? -Changes in sleep and appetite are always noteworthy in either direction.

Because these often viewed as common  teen behaviors and parents may interpret them using the old adage  “its hormones causing this typical teen behavior” or “my teen is just going through a stage. National statistics indicate high percentages of teens have trouble at one time or another, Teens today can also be more secretive about online activity and social media contacts, indicating signs that a teen may be in trouble via his technology use regarding contacts, bullying or exposure to inappropriate material over the web, When considering signs of trouble in teens there are more traditional signs listed above and then there are the new or post tech signs which have to do with inappropriate social media and online connections.

Tips for how parents can help teens: 1- One very good way for parents to address disturbing teen behavior  is get the teen to open up and talk. Parents can begin dialogue by talking about themselves and their own problems. Parents can talk one-on-one  with their teen while doing an activity and open dialogue through self-disclosure.  Teens can understand and appreciate that parents actually have difficulty in their lives.  Examples parents can use are: “I haven’t told anybody this but, I really don’t like the way I perform at my job. I feel like I have to copy other people because I don’t think that I have enough creative ideas.” “Sometimes I do agree to do things with my friends because I want to fit in and gain their approval.” “I’m confused sometimes and I go to a therapist to talk about it.” Parents should not disclose information to the point of worrying their teen, just enough to be real and have their teen relate to them and their difficulties.

2- Parents can talk about getting professional help as a family. They can say something like “As a family we need to go to a counselor or family coach to talk about how we can communicate better. I noticed that we don’t talk as much as we used to and I am apparently contributing to it.” Going to seek professional help initially as a family and owning the responsibility that the parents are equally involved in the problem takes the burden off the child.

3- Getting the teen involved in a community project or family related project. “Everyone’s going to do this project for Habitat for Humanity during next five Sundays because we’re going to build a house for this poor family”. This allows for ongoing supervision and oversight of the teen, with a project focused approach and the teen is not the focus. The teen gets outside of himself by helping someone else which will then help him reconnect to the parts of himself that are lost or disconnected.