Raising a teenager is not a walk in the park. During the formative teenage phase, your child will start forming their own view on the world and figuring out who they want to be. It’s a tumultuous period with major emotional ups and downs, for the teen and the parent.
However, as a parent or guardian, sometimes it’s not clear what you should be doing to help. Is what they’re going through just a temporary phase or is it something that a professional counsellor should be handling?
In this blog, we’re going to help you identify signs that your teenager needs a little extra support or guidance.
1. Drug use
Peer pressure, depression, anxiety and ideas of rebellion are all common causes of teenage drug-use.
If drug-use is left unchecked, it could lead to addiction problems, legal troubles, major health problems or social isolation. There are even studies that suggest that teenagers may be more vulnerable to future substance abuse. Because of this, it’s essential that you keep an eye out on your child’s behaviour if you suspect drug use.
Signs of drug use include paranoia, depression, hyperactivity, truancy, breaking curfew and changing peer groups.
When talking to your child about drugs, it’s important not to invade their privacy and be overly judgemental. This will likely make them more hostile and possibly lose trust in you. You need to remain calm and express to them the reasons why you’re worried about their behaviour.
If you see signs that your teenager is struggling with addiction, you should consider consulting a counsellor or health professional.
2. Depressive symptoms
Depression in teens can manifest in a variety of ways. Hypersomnia, insomnia, a lack of interest in hobbies, irritation and aggression, and withdrawing from friends and family can all be symptoms of depression.
If your teen seems like they don’t have the energy for any sort of activity, they may benefit from professional counselling. If depression isn’t treated, it could lead to drug use, self-harm or social withdrawal.
It’s important to understand the two major types of depression. One type of depression will be congruent with the teen’s broader circumstances. This type often occurs when they’re going through a death of a loved one, failure in school or a break-up. In some cases, this type of depression will eventually fade after a few weeks or months. However, if they can’t seem to get over a particular event, it’s recommended that you consult a psychologist,
Sometimes, teens will feel depressed for no obvious reason. This type of depression might be caused due to a hormonal imbalance, a vitamin deficiency or due to medicinal side effects. In this case, you should talk to your GP or another mental health professional.
3. Decline in school performance
A decline in grades could be a sign of something serious. Social anxiety disorder, executive dysfunction or a learning disability are all possible contributors to your teen’s poor grades. Their experience at home can also affect school performance. Having separated parents, constantly moving homes, and the lack of leisure time can lead to emotional instability and therefore a lack of focus in school.
What makes this issue particularly serious is that it can develop into a downward spiral. If they’re already feeling mentally and emotionally drained, then their poor grades will likely exacerbate those negative feelings even further.
Because of this, it’s important to talk to both a professional counsellor and their school counsellor. The school might be able to provide your teenager with services that might help them improve their grades. This might be tutoring, extra classes or even counselling sessions. A professional counsellor, on the other hand, will be able to get to the root cause and provide help with any emotional problems your child might be having.
Perhaps the most urgent sign that your teenage child needs professional help is self-harm. Common methods include cutting, burning, or picking the skin. All of these are often used to cope with overwhelming stress and emotional pain.
Self-harm can lead to irreversible injuries or even loss of life. As such, it’s necessary that you and your child get professional help as soon as possible.
You should also be wary if your teenager is showing signs of suicide ideation. If the situation is urgent and they’re in immediate danger, please call the local mental health crisis team.
Sometimes, the best way to help your child is to ask for professional help. As a parent or guardian, you might feel responsible for everything that your teenager goes through. However, it’s important to remember that it takes a village to raise a child. In order for your teenager to grow into an independent and capable adult, you will need all the help that you can get. So, if you notice any of these signs, contact a local psychology services provider or NDIS support coordinator.