Raising a teenager can be a rewarding, though, harrowing experience. Suddenly, your child is making their own decisions, developing an identity and emerging as an adult.
Of course, some of their old behavior patterns may still arise at times. How your teen currently faces challenges, reacts to conflict, or manages relationships can inform you of how they may respond to these challenges in the future.
It’s important to distinguish between typical teenage behavior and these 7 developmental warning signs:
1. Withdrawal From the Family
One of the things most teenager’s crave is space. You might notice that your teen spends more time now wearing headphones than they do running around outside. While withdrawing from siblings and parents can be a natural part of development, it can also be a warning sign. Your teen may benefit from counseling if they
- Ignore family members
- Are resentful or hateful toward the family
- Seem excessively angry, territorial or selfish with siblings
- Bury their heads in social media or music to avoid interaction
- Are obsessed with social media, gaming or other electronic distraction
2. Threatening Or Violent Toward Other People
For teenagers, constant advice, parental oversight, and heightened expectations can make it difficult to play nice. While their ability to cope is not fully developed, a harmful lack of self-control is cause for concern. This is particularly problematic when teens
- Threaten other people or destroy possessions
- Become uncharacteristically mean, combative, or argumentative
- Create concern for others’ personal safety or your own
- Express aggressive, emotional outbursts that frighten you
- Demonstrate a desire or inclination to harm people or animals
3. Low Self-Esteem
Healthy self-esteem helps inform a person’s sense of integrity, self-worth, respect, competence, and limitations. Unfortunately, the teenage years coupled with the demand for popularity and acceptance can be a breeding ground for low self-esteem. In seeking validation from others, young people may resort to risky behavioral patterns, drugs and alcohol use, develop an addiction to social media, and engage in unhealthy relationships.
4. Poor Decision-making Regarding Relationships
Struggling to be noticed or popular, teenagers often make the mistake of forming relationships with unhealthy personality types. While self-discovery is important, forming dangerous relationships and conforming to other people’s standards of behavior to fit in can be problematic. Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents. Look for signs that your teenager is
- Suddenly dressing provocatively or very differently than they used to
- Changing their core values abruptly
- Engaging in promiscuous behavior
- Becoming overly rebellious
- Obsessing over a new friend, group of friends or clique
- Changing friends frequently without developing deep friendships
5. Past or Present Psychological Condition
The teenage years can be rough. Changing schools or ending a romantic relationship can cause deep grief. Planning for college, striving to excel and worrying about grades is often stressful. But if your child’s inability to function stems from a psychological disorder, the high school years can become unbearable. Therefore, consider asking a professional for support and guidance if your teenager has
- Trouble functioning in ordinary situations because of paranoia or anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating in class because of abnormal stress levels
- Demonstrated hopelessness, helplessness or grief for longer than two weeks
- Withdrawn into isolation or lost interest in existing friendships
- Lost the desire to engage in activities they once enjoyed
- Difficulty trusting others, making friends or feeling secure in their environment
- Trouble with scheduling, time management or focusing on conversations or lectures
6. Extreme Changes In Eating Habits Or Body Mass
Many young people are victims of body shaming or have body image issues. The emotional toll of feeling imperfect, unattractive, or undesirable may lead to an unhealthy or dangerous change in eating habits. Anorexia and bulimia are both dangerous eating disorders that can lead to emaciation, loss of bone density and heart trouble. Stress eating or compulsive overeating can lead to an abrupt increase in body mass. A negative body image can also trigger compulsive exercising habits, anxiety, or depression.
7. Sudden Drop Or Change In School Grades
Managing the concerns of adolescence can be a tremendous challenge to young people transitioning into adulthood. It can cause trouble concentrating in class, problems focusing on responsibilities at home, and impact self-esteem and academic success.
If your teen is troubled, you might see a swift academic decline or a general disinterest in education. Or they may throw themselves obsessively into their school work to cope with emotional pain. Whether your child is flunking out or burning out from academic pressure, take a closer look at his or her tendency toward extremes.
Transitioning from adolescence into adulthood is a crucial period of your child’s life. And it may not be so easy to take on all of those intrinsic challenges alone. If you are worried about your teenager’s development and want to make sure they are on the road to success and happiness, counseling can provide you both with answers and guidance. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation through our secure Client Portal with a teen counseling specialist today.