Troubled Teens: 5 Signs Parents Should Never Ignore

Growing up is challenging, and today’s teenagers are facing problems that are unique to the present time. Understanding the signs your child might be suffering from some common teenage problems is the first step to helping troubled teens face adversity.

Even the most patient of parents will find their patience tested when navigating the mood swings of most teenagers. Teens face many challenges when transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Teenagers crave independence and freedom, and relationships among their peers become a top priority. Teenagers struggle to cope with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, substance abuse, underage drinking, and other challenges. On top of typical problems teenagers face, today’s teens are learning how to cope during a pandemic, which presents a host of new challenges they must endure. If parents ignore teenage behavior problems, they don’t just go away.

To help them navigate these challenges, it’s important to understand the signs your teenager may be experiencing some common teenage behavior problems. Here are a few of the top signs you should pay attention to.

What Are the Warning Signs?

  1. Falling Grades.
    • If your teen is typically a good student, but you notice a drop in grades on their latest report card, your first reaction may be to punish them until their grades improve. While falling grades may simply be attributed to laziness or the need to improve study habits, it could also be a sign your child is coping with a more serious problem, like depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.
    • Teens who drink are more likely to have problems in school, such as lower grades and more absences. A study from the Centers for Disease Control reveals at least 29 percent of high school students drank alcohol in the past 30 days, and 14 percent binge drank. Each year, excessive drinking is the cause of 3,500 deaths of people under the age of 21.
  2. Isolation.
    • Spending time holed up in their rooms listening to music or playing video games is not uncommon behavior for teens. But if your teen refuses to join the family for mealtimes or isolates from friends, there may be more to it than typical teenage angst.
    • Each year, more than 5,000 people ages 15 to 24 commit suicide, as reported by Mental Health America, a community-based nonprofit promoting mental health. Isolation during the pandemic and the prevalence of smartphones and social media are exacerbating depression among teens. Underage drinking also contributes to depression. Adolescents who drink heavily were three to four times more likely to attempt suicide than nondrinkers.
  3. Sleeping All the Time.
    • Most teens like to sleep in. As their bodies grow and mature, teens need a lot of sleep to stay healthy. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends teenagers get eight to 10 hours of sleep per night. If you notice your teen is sleeping too much, it may be a sign they are suffering from depression.
  4. Change in Appetite.
    • Many parents complain their teenagers are eating them out of house and home. Teens need extra nutrients to sustain bone growth, hormonal changes, and brain development. If you notice your teen is focusing heavily on their diet, limiting food intake, or overeating in private, it could be a sign they are suffering from an eating disorder.
  5. Secretive Behavior or Lying.
    • It’s natural for teens to rely on their friends for advice as they age. But, if your once chatty teen becomes aloof and you realize they’re hiding things or even lying, this could be a sign of a problem.
    • Stay alert so you can nip underage drinking or drug use in the bud. Keep in mind, each day in 2019, nearly 6,500 adolescents began using alcohol, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed.

How Parents Can Help Troubled Teens

Parents can help their children avoid some of the common problems troubled teens face by arming themselves with the facts. Know the statistics and understand the pressure your teens are under today before you have a conversation. Make sure to be a good listener when you talk to your teen. Don’t try to solve all their problems; stay calm and help them work through their issues to avoid a combative situation. Don’t neglect the importance of setting solid ground rules and consequences for negative behavior.

Visit Talk It Out NC to learn more about preventing one of the most common problems troubled teens face — underage drinking. Take the pledge to stop underage drinking by starting the conversation with your kids.