Most of us remember our teen years with a bittersweet mixture of nostalgia and pain. Even as adults, we never forget the confusion, loneliness, and anger that often accompanies one through that pivotal time between childhood and adulthood.
Parenting a teen is a different story altogether, and if you find yourself struggling to understand your teen's sudden change of mood and behavior, you may be wondering if there's a reason for concern.
There are certain signs that your teen may be dealing with something more than mere growing pains, and here are some of the most common indicators that professional help might be necessary.
Most teenagers desire a certain degree of privacy, which should in turn be respected. However, if your teen has completely withdrawn from all forms of social engagement, at home and elsewhere, with little to no communication, there may be an underlying cause.
While it's entirely normal for a teenager to remove themselves as far as possible from the potential embarrassment of parents and siblings, withdrawing completely from all social activities, hobbies, and the company of friends and family could be a sign of maladjustment.
2. Anger Issues
Intense and often conflicting emotions are natural in teens while they navigate the adult world.
After all, they are still children in many ways, and just as children are prone to intense outbursts, no doubt your teen is entitled to a few of their own.
But if your teenager's default setting seems to be perpetual rage, they may be grappling with an issue they can't articulate, but only direct anger at.
3. Poor Grades
While not everyone can be a straight-A student, if you've noticed your teen's grades dropping suddenly and seemingly without reason, you have a right to be concerned.
Loss of attentiveness and lack of motivation will naturally affect one's grades, and could be indicative of a problem in school.
4. Irregular Eating and Sleeping Habits
While teenagers aren't exactly known for their lifestyle choices, it's your job to see that yours maintains a healthy eating and sleeping schedule.
If you've noticed your teen is not eating or, conversely, is overeating, as well as getting too little or too much sleep, that disruption could be affecting their physical and mental health, as well as their academic performance.
5. Substance Abuse
Teens are bound to experiment, but addiction can and does occur in young people, be it substance-related or behavioral. If you suspect or know that your teen has an addiction, it's absolutely crucial that you seek professional help.
6. Acting Out
Our teenage years are, for the most part, a time for rebellion--think back to when you were young and what you felt you needed to push back against.
Authority figures, rigid regimes, and the confusing onslaught of adult responsibilities that come with limited freedom are all understandable triggers, but if your teen is actively engaging in disruptive behavior that affects others you have a responsibility to step in.
Theft, destruction of property, fighting, and routine substance abuse all fall under red flag territory, and should be taken seriously.
7. Self Harm
If your teen engages in self harm like cutting, burning, deliberately painful physical alterations, or risky behavior, you should seek professional help right away. This includes talk of suicide, suicide idealization, and most certainly attempt of suicide.
Mental Health And Your Teen
Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety tend to appear during puberty, and there's a chance your teen may be struggling with the early signs.
Below we'll discuss the types of therapy available, and why it's crucial to get help now.
How A Therapist Can Help
There are many types of therapy that have been known to help teens and their families cope with mental health and behavioral issues, including:
Cognitive behavioral therapy, which is ideal for positively managing thoughts, emotions, and actions
One-on-one therapy, with additional peer support
Family group therapy
Creative therapy, which focuses on self-expression
There are several reasons why you're teen should speak to a professional therapist, rather than solely with an authority figure.
A therapist is an objective presence with no emotional attachments or personal history, which means they can offer insights based on collected information, observations, and methods founded in psychological study.
Your teen may also feel more comfortable speaking with someone outside of their social and familial circles, who will neither judge nor mock their feelings.
While no parent wants to hear it, you may actually be part of your teen's problem, which a therapist will be able to detect and bring to your attention (along with the necessary tools to correct damaging response patterns).
For example, if you're indulging your teen rather than taking a progressive stance, a therapist can help you reestablish a healthy relationship in which boundaries are set and respected.
What Kind Of Therapy Is Right For Your Teen?
While in-office therapy is still the traditional choice of many, online therapy has enjoyed massive popularity in recent years due to its convenient structure and gentler price tag.
With all sessions conducted entirely online via your electronic device of choice, typically through chat messenger or video conference call, online therapy connects users with fully licensed professionals, many of whom specialize in teen therapy.
Online therapy is particularly preferable for teens due to the privacy it offers, as well as ease of technology. Many online therapists operate on a sliding scale payment structure, while a number of platforms charge a flat monthly fee.