It’s safe to say that adolescents experience a wide range of emotions and behaviors. So how do you know when those emotions or behaviors have strayed beyond the range of “normal”? Just what is considered “normal” behavior? And, more importantly, how can a parent know when a child’s emotions or behaviors require attention by a mental health professional?
Mental health issues in youth and teens often present themselves as difficulties in school, and, if left untreated, can result in school drop out. The U.S. Department of Education reports that approximately 50% of students, ages 14 and older, with mental health problems eventually drop out of high school.
You've probably seen failed exams and missed curfews, yelling and tears, tickets and fines, community service and jail time. But you've also likely seen the sideways looks of accusatory blame, sighs of exhaustion, curled lips of exasperation, and backs – lots and lots of turned backs.
All humans experience anger, and your child is no different. A child's brain often cannot process their emotions, especially during a stressful time. That can result in an emotional or behavioral outburst. Parents typically resort to one of two reactions when their child is acting out. A parent might “bring down the hammer” as Kim Abraham, LMSW and Marney Studaker-Cordner, LMSW, puts it, trying to stop the anger/outburst through intimidation and punishment. Or, a parent may do everything in their power to change the situation and get rid of the child's adverse behavior.
Do you suspect your child is abusing drugs or alcohol, but don't know how to address the topic? Maybe you've noticed a rapid weight change, odd sleeping patterns, falling grades, or a change in the group of friends he/she hangs out with. Maybe your child's mood or energy level has changed. Perhaps your child has become secretive, or just seems off.