Your teenager might be driving you crazy with the mood swings, erratic and general off-the-wall behavior. It’s the nature of game with all the hormonal changes teens undergo. But how do you know when this crazy behavior has crossed the line from normal teenage angst to abnormal teen behavior? It’s not always so easy, but there are ways you can tell.
Talk to Your Teen
If you suspect something is wrong with your teenager, ask him. Give him time to respond. If he shrugs and says he doesn’t know, be more specific with your question. For example, ask him why he is so mad all the time or why he received a “D” on his last history test. Listen to your teen without judging. You want your child to open up and be honest about his feelings.
No matter what problems your teenager is facing, it’s always beneficial for your teenager to have a loving and quality relationship with you. PBS reported on its “Frontline” show, in a segment called “Inside the Teenage Brain,” about scientific research which suggested that with all the new technological advances science has made in understanding the teenage brain, the research always comes back to confirm that teenagers need a good relationship with their parents, neuroscientist Dr. Jay Giedd of the National Institute of Mental Health told “Frontline.”
Look for warning signs indicating that your teen’s behavior is abnormal. Your teen might have a problem if she exhibits one or more of the following: extreme weight fluctuation, sleep problems, drastic changes in personality, sudden change of friends, skipping school, falling grades, talk of suicide, signs of alcohol, tobacco or drug use and police involvement.
When to Seek Help
If your teen exhibits warning signs or any sort of inappropriate behavior that lasts longer than six weeks, seek help from your doctor, a counselor at your child’s school or through your religious organization. Your teen may be referred to a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Your teen could be suffering from problems that are too big for you to handle alone, such as depression, bipolar disorder or drug addiction.
Threats and Danger
If you have a child who makes threats to hurt himself or to hurt someone else, you must take the threat seriously, especially if he has been violent or aggressive before, has access to guns, has a violent family history, has had a recent loss or rejection or has disciplinary problems at school or in the community. Take your child to a mental health professional for an evaluation. In the case of an emergency or if your child refuses any help, you may need to take your child to the emergency room or to the police. If you do nothing, you run the risk of something tragic happening.