Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble
It can be terrifying when you see a sudden change in your teen and don't know what to make of it.
Sometimes, you may wonder: "What's normal?" "Am I making too much of this?" "Does she just want attention?" "Am I really the only parent who has a problem with this?" "Am I too hard on him?"
The fact that you're asking these questions shows excellent parenting radar and a real concern for your child.
While this list is not exhaustive, it's a solid start. It captures many of the problems I see come up in teen therapy. If any of the things listed below are happening with your kid, you're not making too much of it. It isn't about attention. You're right to be worried. Your child needs help, right away!
Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble:
1. Sudden negative change in peer group, friends they are not willing to introduce
2. Social Isolation
3. Bullying: either being the perpetrator or the victim of abuse is a concern and requires help.
4. Self-harm: cutting, picking, burning, self-starvation, or high risk sexual behavior. If you notice a sudden dramatic weight loss, see any unexplained marks or scars, or if your child suddenly starts wearing long sleeves or more concealing clothing, look more closely. Ask questions. Get help!
5. Any break-up with a best friend or first love that is being taken particularly hard: excessive crying, expressing feelings of hopelessness, or obsessive thinking, talking, or social media mentions about the loss are significant signs there's a problem.
6. Substance abuse
7. Falling or failing grades
8. Dramatic change in appearance or lack of interest in basic grooming, extreme irritability or aggression, crying, expressing feelings of numbness and disconnection, change in appetite, or sleep pattern are all signs of DEPRESSION, and should be taken seriously.
9. Lying or secretive behavior
10. Expressing ANY thoughts of suicide: verbally, by gesture, or in writing
The need for help is URGENT: if your teenager has a specific plan for how to commit suicide, access to the means of self-harm they describe, or an expression of intent to actually do it.
If your kid starts giving away emotionally significant items, seem to be trying to tie up loose ends, or say "goodbye" to anyone, these are also RED FLAGS.
If you see this behavior. or you have any doubts, get help immediately. Go to your nearest emergency room, call 911, or call the police Psychological Emergency Response Team (PERT). It's okay to err on the side of caution. In fact, it's a really good idea to call, if you have any doubt at all.
Teenagers can get in over their heads really fast. It's alarming how quickly they can get into real trouble. They are more impulsive, while being less able to think long-range and problem solve, than adults.
Teens can suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, addiction and serious anger management problems, just like adults. When this happens, teens really need help.
If you're a parent and this is happening with your child, you probably need some help, too. These are complicated scary problems. It's important to have a person with professional psychological training assist you. There's a lot at stake. Things can get better, with the right guidance.
Please, act quickly, if you notice any of the Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble. If you aren't sure, or have any questions, you can call me: Kristin Perry, MFT at: 760-978-6071. If you can't reach me and think it might be serious, please, call 911.
A little rebellion is normal teenage stuff. A little moodiness is normal teen emotion. Being kinda bratty is normal teenager behavior. Raising a teen is tricky. An adolescent's process of becoming independent can be quite hard on everyone concerned. They're a little bit prickly, sometimes. Counseling can help with these normal developmental issues, too. Teen therapy can improve family relationships, communication and coping skills.
Counseling can help get things back on the right track.
It can also save your kid's life.
Whatever your particular situation, I wish you much luck, love and peace as you care for your family.
Kristin Perry, MFT
Kristin's Comfy Couch Family Counseling
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