Raising a teenager is never easy, and it can be difficult to tell when your teen needs help. Adolescence is a time of development—and often confusion—for many teenagers. Consequently, it’s common for your child to be irritable, moody, and sensitive while they question their identity and think about their future. But if you start noticing red flags—like sinking grades and isolation—it’s time to reach out to your teen. If you’re not sure where to start, here are five tips for helping your troubled teen.
Talk to them about your concerns
If you start noticing red flags, set aside some time to sit down and talk with your teenager. Let them know that you’re aware that something is different and that you want to help.
Liz Morrison, LCSW, a psychotherapist who specializes in teen counseling, suggests letting your teen know that you’ve noticed changes in their attitude or behavior. Check up on your teen and ask them if there’s anything they want to talk about. Regardless of what your teen says, stay compassionate, calm, and supportive throughout your conversation.
Pay attention to their behavior
According to psychotherapist Sean Grover, LCSW, children frequently experience developmental depression during their teenage years. During this time, some teenagers may try on different identities, which often causes them to present inconsistent behavior and emotional instability. In some cases, developmental depression can become more severe, turning into atypical depression.
Teens with atypical depression are usually withdrawn, combative, and unresponsive. Look out for signs of sinking grades, fights with parents or friends, sadness and anxiety, and dramatic changes in behavior. Behavioral problems are signs of internal struggles, so paying attention to your teen’s behavior can let you know when it’s time to extend your support.
Keep an eye on their friends
It’s normal for teenagers to feel anxious about fitting in, and peer pressure often plays an important role during adolescence. You can find out who your teen’s peers are by paying attention to who they hang out with and talk about.
If your teen starts acting out of character, check out their friends. Free information database sites like GoLookUp provide arrest records, mugshots, background checks, and phone/address lookups. To reveal potential red flags, search the names of your teen’s peers. If you find cause for concern, help your teen recognize peer pressure and support them in developing their own individuality.
Build a support network
Troubled teenagers need a safe space where they don’t feel judged. According to Grover, parents should build a support network of other adults, including teachers and mentors. Many teens are resistant to their parent’s support: “The child does not want to be dependent on the parent, and will grow defiant and combative.”
Polaris’ Residential Treatment Programs provide personalized tools for struggling teens to assist in a smooth transition to adulthood. The professionals at Polaris offer clinical expertise and experience to work with your teen through adolescent challengers, empowering your teen to form healthy habits. To find out more about how Polaris can help your teen live a happy, healthy life, visit https://Polaristeen.com/residential-programs/.
Reflect on your own actions
Sometimes, parents blame their teenagers for acting out and fail to consider how their own actions affect their child. If you’re constantly asking your child to be calm during conversations while you’re yelling, or if your teen is struggling with poor self-esteem while you’re judging others, you might be part of the problem. Step back and consider how your actions may affect your child’s mental well-being, and take full responsibility for your actions.
Raising a teen can be stressful and overwhelming. If you start noticing changes in your child’s behavior, it’s essential to remain calm, compassionate, and nonjudgmental while offering your support.