Every family is going to have problems with their teenagers at one time or another. Most times your kids are just being kids. But sometimes, when the issues concerning you continue for longer periods of time, and your parenting methods are not working, there may be more serious issues going on-Issues that may need to be addressed by counseling, treatment, or medication. How do you know the difference? You don’t always, but if you’re worrying about it, then you should at least consider that there may be a problem and look into it a little deeper.
If you become concerned, trust your intuition. Parents too often ignore signs even when their gut tells them something is wrong. It is the nature of most adolescents to, at times, be moody, but a consistent bad mood over a period of time is not normal. You know your child best. Things that are typical for another child may not be typical for yours. Be alert to things that just don’t seem to fit. Some children are, and always have been, timid and shy. When that is normal behavior you may not like it, but it is not something to cause alarm. If distancing themselves is different for your child and lasts more than a couple of weeks, then something may be going on that signals a problem.
You should not necessarily be concerned about isolated changes, but should be alert to any disturbing patterns of change. Sleeping more or less is not alarming by itself, but combined with a change in eating patterns and a trend toward isolation tells you there may be a problem.
Some things are obviously more serious than others, but the types of changes to watch for include:
Sleeping or eating more or less
Lack of concentration
Difficulty following through with responsibilities
Change in grades or attendance at school
Lying or stealing
Evidence of alcohol or drug use
Lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
Going through unusually large amounts of money
Being overly secretive or wanting to lock their bedroom door
Acting out or withdrawing
Again, some of these by themselves may be normal for your adolescent, but if it is a sudden change, lasts over a period of time, and is in combination with other changes, it may be time to look for some help.