• LIBBET PARAVICINI

I'm worried about my teenager what should I do?

Being a parent of a teenager is not easy and if you are struggling with your teenager please know that you are not alone in your struggle. Both parents and teenagers alike often struggle with the changes that happen when a child becomes a teenager.

Normal VS issues of concern

First, it's important to develop an understanding of what to expect during your child(s) teenage years. Distinguishing what is normal and what is an issue of concern that needs to addressed.

Normal "teen" behaviours - Expect mood swings, an increased number of arguments as a result of increased resistance to your instructions and requests.

Issues of concern - Your teenager is experiencing prolonged and persistent feelings of sadness, worry, anger (lasting more than a few days), they may have even mentioned suicide. Violent outbursts in which others get hurt or property gets destroyed, skipping school.

Normal teen behaviour - not wanting to go to school.

Issues of concern - skipping school, and a change in grades.

Normal teen behaviours - You may feel left out, but it's not unusual for teenagers to want to spend more time with their friends rather than their parents. They may be showing a stronger desire to have privacy and may even seem secretive.

Issues of concern - Spending lots of time alone, disconnected from peers and all social activities. Or spending time with a group of friends who are encouraging very negative behaviour.

Most mental Health Disorders found in teenagers*

Understanding what your teenager is experiencing is important as well. There are a number of different mental illnesses that teenagers can experience. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 49.5% of adolescents will experience mental illness at some point between the ages of 13 and 18.5

The most common mental health disorders found in teenagers are

  • ADHD

  • Mood Disorders

  • Major Depression

  • Conduct Disorder

  • Anxiety Disorders

  • Panic Disorder

  • Eating Disorders

How can I help my teenager?

  • be honest and calm when explaining that you are worried about what they are experiencing.

  • do not blame yourself for any problems that your teenager is experiencing as this will not help you or them resolve the situation.

  • tell them you'll be there for them when want to talk (avoid persistent questioning, as this may make them feel threatened and push away)

  • let them choose where to go for help, which may be a GP, a family friend or counsellor

*Source (https://www.verywellmind.com/what-to-do-if-you-think-teen-has-a-mental-illness-4109573)

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