When you are faced with your child defying household rules, answering back in anger, slamming the door in your face, and just becoming plain rude and uncooperative, you may wonder where your sweet, caring and obedient little baby has gone. In his place is this angry, uncaring, reckless teen.
But then again, you may have been like that too when you were young, so should you be alarmed?
Teens undergo a stage when their hormones rage. Many changes take place in their bodies and brain as they transition to young adulthood. However, it is also at this stage when many teens become troubled and acquire violent, abusive, and even addictive behaviors.
So how do you know if your teen is a troubled teen?
Teenagers are normally at this stage when they begin to find their own identities and assert their independence. With this comes defiance and unpredictability, which are normal behavior for teenagers.
Parents with troubled teens, however, face far greater challenges to their patience and even sanity. This is because troubled teens undergo behavioral, emotional, and cognitive difficulties that are beyond normal teenage issues.
Troubled teens will be involved with habitual reckless and irresponsible behavior such as violence and fights, skipping school, self-harm, shoplifting, frequent drinking, drug use, sex, and even serious criminal acts. Other troubled teens, though not involved in these said activities, may have their own inner battles as they face depression, anxiety, bipolar behavior, and eating disorders.
In order for you as a parent to address any teen issue so you can guide him as he transitions into a responsible, well-adjusted adult, you first need to determine what is typical teen behavior and what isn’t.
- Change in appearance
Typically, teens would want to look like who they idolize–on television, in magazines, or in social media. They want to keep in style and experiment with different looks that they feel would best express their identity. They may seek attention through their fashion statements so unless they want tattoos or excessive body piercings, consider making constructive criticism. Better yet, pick your battles when it comes to your teens wanting to express themselves through the way they look.
Warning: Troubled teens would tend to drastically change their appearance with irreversible consequences. This may affect school or bring trouble to their safety and health. The red flags to watch out for would be self-harm such as making small cuts on their arms, extreme dieting or rapid weight gain to the point of developing eating disorders.
- Mood swings
Aside from their seemingly sudden desire to be their own person and assert their independence, hormones also play a crucial role in the many behavioral and physical changes that teens go through. Because of these surging hormones, teens will experience mood swings, and irritability. They will also struggle with controlling and managing their emotions.
Warning: You have to watch out for any negative products of these mood swings such as sudden change of personality and routines, failing grade, failing health, persistent sadness or depression, frequent anxiety, changes in sleep patterns, bullying or being bullied, or even suicidal behavior.
- Rebellious behavior
Arguing with your teens is unavoidable. You will constantly differ in opinion, and your teen may not understand your protestations to his actions, in the same way as you may not understand his search for independence.
Warning: What to watch out for would be rapid escalation of arguments, violence at home, with friends or with strangers, as well as getting in fights and run-ins with authorities. Red flags such as defying school rules and committing crimes must also be considered as troubled teen behavior.
- Use of alcohol and/or drugs
Teens tend to be easily swayed by peer pressure. At some point, they may try alcohol or smoke cigarettes due to friends’ urging. They may also even try marijuana or some other drug. It is important to talk to your teen about the dangers of peer pressure and these substances to make sure they do not get dependent or addicted.
Warning: Habitually going to parties and getting drunk or ‘wasted’ is something that you should be concerned about, especially when this goes hand in hand with problems at home, in school, or with the law. You may also need to watch out for symptoms of substance abuse or addiction.
- The role of friends
At this stage, friends play an important role to your teen. Oftentimes, friends have more influence over them than you because typically teens spend more time with their friends and this may leave you feeling hurt or jealous. Instead of fighting for attention, make sure that the little amounts of time you spend with your teen is quality time. Even with their friends, your teen would still need to be reassured that they are loved, trusted and respected.
Warning: Watch out if your teen would suddenly change his group of friends, or become secretive. Also be wary of negative influences from friends, or if your teen becomes prone to irresponsible behavior, breaking rules, or lying. If your teen spends too much time with friends and are getting into trouble with them, this indicates problems. Similarly, if your teen spends too much time alone and without a social life, this could spell trouble as well.
Speak to a professional if your teen is experiencing these warning signs. If your teen is experiencing substance or alcohol abuse problems, speak to our rehab specialists right away. Early intervention is key to a more manageable treatment. Call or text: