If a child has reached the teenage years, it is likely they are experiencing some changes in their physicality, hormones and emotions. You may wonder if these changes represent typical teen behavior or are characteristics of troubled teens.
Knowing the difference between typical and troubled will help determine if finding help is needed.
Typical Teen Behaviors
Parents may find it difficult to get their teen up and ready for school during the week. They yell two, three, even four times to get dressed for school. Yet, the teen continues to sleep. They may even hit the snooze button on their alarm over and over. Some teens sleep right through an alarm.
This is indeed, common teen behavior. Teens like to stay up late at night, whether parents know it or not. This causes this to be overly tired in the mornings.
Other typical teen behaviors include their desire to spend more time with friends than with parents or authority figures. And even though they want to spend more time with peers, altercations in these relationships seem to affect them more deeply.
Mild risk-taking behaviors may show up during the teen years. An example of this is minimal experimenting with alcohol or drugs. Worrying about how they look, trying to gain independence and exploring their identity can also be common among teens.
These behaviors are quite different from troubled teens behaviors.
Troubled Teens Behavior
Arguing with your teen go beyond normal if screaming, yelling and violence are shown. Teens who escalate quickly to these types of aggressive behaviors may be showing signs of trouble. The inability to handle their emotions is another sign.
Rapid mood swings, anxiety attacks, dramatic weight loss or weight gain, failing grades and using alcohol or drugs as a coping tool. If the teen is harming themselves, failing in school and changing their appearance are troubling behaviors.
There are some troubling behaviors that are even more serious than these.
Serious Red Flags
When a teen refuses to abide by boundaries or laws, they are troubled. They may refuse to attend school or participate in illegal activities. Either way, they need treatment.
They are trying to meet a need in a dangerous way. Putting themselves in scary situations is also a sign the teen needs help.
Teens who isolate or withdraw from family and friends, wanting to spend all their time alone, is struggling. Anytime a teen mentions thoughts of suicide, treat it as a serious matter and seek help immediately.
Harming pets or other people, or having a fascination with weapons, is a red flag of a much deeper problem that should be addressed with the help of a mental health professional.
If you know a teen who meets the description of a troubled teen, there are tips you can follow to intervene and help.
Tips for Intervention
When you intervene, you are attempting to get professional help for a teen struggling with some type of negative behaviors, thoughts or feelings. You are aiding those who cannot seem to find a way to help themselves.
Peer support groups allow teens to meet others who are experiencing similar troubles. This lets them know they are not alone and that there is hope for overcoming battles.
Family Therapy is a terrific way to show your teen you want to get help also. When one family member has a problem, it can affect all other family members. Seeking treatment together helps teens feel part of the group and not as if they are the only one with a problem.
Anger can be a common characteristic of troubled teens. There are many anger management groups or individual therapy to help teens focus on appropriately handing their emotions.
Change how you react to your teen. While your teen may be troubled, they did not get this way all by themselves. Sometimes adults can influence a teen in a negative way even when that is not their intention. Adults are role models and teens often imitate what they see and hear.
Getting help for yourself and your teen will enable both of you to change for the better.
Tips for Prevention
One of the best ways to help troubled teens is to take preventive actions to help them avoid becoming troubled in the first place. Making a real connection with a teen is key. Be genuine and show them how much you care for their overall health.
Teaching your teen healthy habits early in life can give them confidence and a desire to remain healthy. They will see the importance of mental and physical health and how it helps them become successful.
Nutrition has been shown to play a significant role in teen development. Proper nutrition leads to better physical, emotional and psychological traits. On the other hand, eating junk food and too much sugar has been found to create physical and mental problems.
Physical Activity, in any form, is needed by all teens. With the schools allowing less time for recess and gym, it is important children become involved in extracurricular activities. Exercise allows your body to boost everything from brain chemicals to muscle development to oxygen flow.
Lack of good sleep can lead to a myriad of mental health problems, which can then lead to troubles in a teen’s life. Sleep is one of the most crucial factors in staying healthy. During sleep, your brain and body are restored from the stressors of the day. This gives teens an extra help in fighting off troubles.
Know that change and improvement is possible. Do not give up on trying to help your teen overcome their struggles. There are many ways you can reach out for help. Talking to school counselors, meeting with other adults who are struggling with troubled teens and attending therapy for yourself.
You can also seek counsel with teen treatment centers. They are experts in youth development, mental health issues of teens, and interventions that work. They are equipped with tools and activities that work.
They can help you and your teen succeed.