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March 29, 2010
by Debra Bacon

Warning signs that your teen is on the wrong path

March 29, 2010 19:01 by Debra Bacon

By Debra Bacon
Debra Bacon Contributor

Relationships, hormones and pressures

Teenage years are challenging for the teen and parents. Maintaining an open and communicative relationship with your teen is vital as they move through adolescence.

Hormonal changes, mood swings and peer pressure are a part of the growth process, however, it is important to be aware of subtle, and overt signs that trouble may be on the horizon.

While some unusual behavior is normal with teens, knowing your teen--how they generally react and interact with you--will help in identifying potential problems.

Red Flags

Following are signs to watch for that may indicate your teen is headed down the wrong path.

  • Isolation:  During adolescence, a teenager typically distances themselves a bit more than before from family. Yet, if your teen is avoiding your advances toward conversation and interaction, there may be a problem. If they spend more time away from home or alone, locked in their room, a red flag should go up. This can be an indication of drug use or depression.
  • Sudden weight loss and/or appetite change:  This behavior is indicative of peer and social pressures to look a certain way. An eating disorder, depression or drug use can be at the root of this conduct.
  • Extreme mood swings:  Mood swings are a common thing with teens. Therefore, it is a bit more difficult to discern what is problematic and what is normal. However, knowing your teens normal reactions will assist you follow up accordingly. This behavior could be a sign of social problems; hanging out with the wrong crowd. Meet your teen’s friends and their parents. Know who they are spending their time with and what values their parents hold dear.
  • Declining grades or lack of interest in school/activities:  Since teens have so much on their minds, at times, a lack of interest in school work could be chalked up as normal. However, if their grades are falling sharply, they are cutting classes and pulling out of activities once enjoyed, it is time to check-in. Get to know your teen’s teachers and find a way of communicating with them on a regular basis. Be involved in your adolescence education and school activities.
  • Motivation issues: If your once spunky teen suddenly begins to seem more tired, and uninterested in hobbies and former friends, they could have a problem with substance abuse. They could be depressed or feeling isolated and alone. Talk with them, let them know you care. Be available to listen, love and offer advice, if needed.

Get Involved

If your teen is showing signs of unusual behavior, it is the parents’ responsibility to get to the bottom of what is going on. A child wants to know you are concerned and interested, even if they do not act like it.

It may feel like to you that you are spying on them or invading their privacy when checking up on them. Press forward, as it could mean the difference between life and death.

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