Bad apple? Think again Teens can be masterful artists of disguise and can woefully detract attention away from underlying issues. Certain behavior such as consistently breaking curfew may be a sign of a larger issue concerning a teens well-being. While its natural for teenagers to search for autonomy, its not healthy when they conceal significant issues.
Teens demonstrate difficulty in their lives through a myriad of interesting behaviors. They may isolate themselves, they may seek new peers, they may start dressing differently, their grades may plummet, they may begin skipping school, or they may get into fights or disputes at school. It is important to be aware of potential issues impacting your teen. When teenagers experience anxiety, depression, difficulty fitting in with peers, distorted body image, etc some turn to drugs, alcohol, or self-harm. Teenage suicide is a leading cause of death among youth within this age range.
Deep seated emotional issues may fuel a fury within a teen that they are unable to deal with alone. All teenagers can be moody at times. Typical teenaged moodiness should be expected. However, when a teen demonstrates an inability to emotionally cope with day to day issues, this should not be dismissed. Emotional issues are easily set off by social or physical change.
Unfortunately, some teens have had the unpleasant and extremely destructive experience of being abused. Abuse comes in many forms to include but not be limited to physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect. When children are abused, their entire being is altered forever. Abuse cant be undone. However, people can learn to deal with the trauma they have experienced at an expense (emotional expense).
Teens that have been abused often times act out by running away, being truant, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, being sexually promiscuous, etc Very rarely will you find a teenaged runaway who hasnt been sexually abused. Sexual promiscuity is also more common in teenaged survivors of sexual abuse.
It is extremely important to talk to your teen! If they trust you enough to confide in you with their horror, please validate their concerns and help guide them. All too often, victims are accused of lying when they confide in a loved one regarding sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is difficult to hear about and to understand. Please do not make the mistake of accusing the victim. They need guidance, reassurance, love, understanding, patience, support, and counseling.
Talk, talk, and talk more It is vital to talk to your teenager. Although it may be a challenge, it is worth trying to decipher what they may be feeling or saying. If you sense something serious, it is important that you seek outside assistance. Writing is a healthy exercise for expression. Journals are great tools for allowing the expression of moods and feelings. Teens should feel free to write about whatever theyd like. Suggestions may include goals, objectives, feelings, hopes, dreams, likes/dislikes, etc Writing is therapeutic and can help the author unfold important next steps, confusing thoughts, and appropriate decision making.
Please refuse to allow your teen to mask their potential by wearing a faade. Allow them to be their authentic self. Although this may require hard work on your part, it is well worth the effort.
Holly Smith, Ph.D., ABD, has been a credentialed school psychologist for the past 10 years, has experience working as a social worker dealing with families and children, and has taught graduate-level courses in psychology.
Although writing this book, in-part, comes directly from her personal experience during divorce, her vast professional experience lends to the required technical and theoretical expertise. In her former role as a social worker, she was tasked with providing education and training to families during difficult times in their lives. She provided education and support in the areas of coping with crisis situations, making healthy decisions and choices, effectively parenting and co-parenting, overcoming homelessness, and impro